Judges ganging up against my office’ -Special Prosecutor
Ghana’s Special Prosecutor Kissi Agyebeng has alleged that he has received warnings from senior and very experienced lawyers of a conspiracy by some lawyers who have been elevated to the bench, to gang up against his office by frustrating his corruption fight by dismissing most of the cases he takes before them. According to the Special Prosecutor Kissi Agyebeng, there is emerging pattern of judicial bias and grand scheme on the part of some judges to dismiss cases brought before the court.
At a press conference on Wednesday, 29 November 2023, Mr Kissi Agyebeng expressed concern about the “growing hasty dismissiveness and lack of regard” for corruption cases by the courts.
On Monday, a High Court nullified a report by the Office of the Special Prosecutor that implicated Col. Kwadwo Damoah, a former Commissioner of the Customs Division at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA); and Joseph Adu Kyei, a former Deputy Commissioner of the Division, for utilising their positions to provide favorable tax treatment to Labianca Company, a frozen foods company.
Damoah and Kyei filed a lawsuit against the OSP in November 2022, contending that the report lacked merit and had harmed their reputations.
The court imposed a GH₵10,000 cost against the OSP and issued a restraining order to prevent the OSP from further investigating the two.
Mr Agyebeng also made reference to the acquittal of Cecilia Dapaah, a former government official, in a corruption case and the refusal of a court order to freeze the estate of former NPP General Secretary, Kojo Owusu Afriyie, despite mounting allegations of corruption against his estate.
Mr Agyebeng sees a trend in the dismissal of the OSP’s cases by the judges sitting on them and warned of dire consequences for the fight against corruption if the pattern continues.
“Indeed, I have had several calls from well-meaning lawyers admonishing me that they have heard talk that our friends who have been elevated to the bench and presiding over cases in court, do not take very kindly to criticism, especially of the public-calling-out variety, as we do”, he told journalists on Wednesday, 29 November 2023.
He continued: “And that if the office persists in the media releases, the judges will gang up against the office and throw out all our cases”.
“Mind you, members of the press, collective admonishing is from very senior and experienced lawyers who are members of the law”.
“Members of the press, my learning of the law for the past 25 years in three different jurisdictions, my teaching and training of lawyers and law students for the past 17 years, my 20-year record at the bar all bear testimony that I will be the last person to lead an institution to attack the judiciary”.
“It will be absolutely of no good should it be the case that the OSP is set against the judiciary or that the judiciary is against the OSP. That will surely spell disastrous consequences for this republic, especially in the fight against corruption to the amending glee of corrupt persons”, he warned.
Referring to the ruking in the Labianca case, for instance, Mr Agyebeng warned: “The danger of this startling decision is again quite obvious. A judge has, in the process, granted two persons immunity from investigation and in effect immunity from prosecution”.
“This decision opens up a calamitous deluge as every person under criminal investigation will be encouraged to take out suits to injunct investigation and prosecution bodies from investigating and prosecuting them,” he said.
“I do not intend to sound as though I’m predicting doom but we are facing it, and this is it. With this development, it will not be long, a suspected murderer or armed robber will boldly walk to court with the unthinkable prayer that the court should injunct law enforcement agencies from investigating him.”
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