Three embattled Ghanaian judges have filed a suit at the court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for alleged violations of their human rights in Ghana.
Justice Paul Dery, Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh and Justice Gilbert Ayisi Addo, in a joint suit, named the Ghana Government, the Chief Justice of Ghana, the Ghana Judicial Council and the Attorney General of Ghana as the first, second, third and fourth respondents, respectively.
By the suit, the three justices are seeking the enforcement of their human rights which have been allegedly violated by the Ghana Government.
The judges are seeking 11 reliefs from the ECOWAS Court under the following laws: United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
The judges claim in the suit that they are seeking declarations from the ECOWAS Court on the following grounds, among others:
• That their human rights have been violated;
• That the Government of Ghana “owes it as a duty to respect and uphold and also ensure that every person within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ghana respects and upholds individual human rights enshrined in the laws mentioned earlier;
• That the Government of Ghana has violated their rights to fair trial and administrative justice;
• That the Government of Ghana has violated their rights to equality before the law and freedom from discrimination; and
• That the Government of Ghana has violated their rights to work and to privacy.
The judges are also seeking an order from the ECOWAS Court “prohibiting the Government
of Ghana from continuing with the impeachment, or prosecution of the applicants based solely on evidence procured in violation of the applicants’ rights to privacy”.
They are further seeking an order from the court to direct the Ghana Government to “pay with interest full salaries and allowances which it unlawfully suspended since January, 2016 – arising out of a petition by Tiger Eye PI/Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ for their removal from office.
Last year, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a Ghanaian private investigator, presented a petition to the President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, which the President later forwarded to the Chief Justice of Ghana, Theodora Georgina Wood.
The petition exposed 33 judges of the high and circuit courts and magistrates in video and transcripts – allegedly receiving bribes from agents of Tiger Eye PI, an investigation firm owned by Anas.
Acting upon evidences provided by the video and transcripts, the Supreme Court and the Ghana Judicial Service dismissed a number of high and circuit court judges and magistrates for professional misconduct.
But a few of the indicted judges opted to exercise their human rights by challenging the positions taken by the Ghana Judicial Service on the matter.
Numerous court actions taken by Justice Paul Dery and others failed to get them off the hook of the law as interpreted and acted upon by the courts in Ghana.
The positions of the courts in Ghana have been, in sum, that although Anas, a private investigator, is not known to the law in Ghana and that his firm, Tiger Eye PI, is non-existent in law in the country, the evidence he has provided should not be disregarded.
That means the evidence is admissible in court in Ghana.
The courts in Ghana have based their positions on the principle that when information of wrong doing by a public officer is made available to the courts, that information must be investigated – whether the information is lawfully obtained or not.
This position derives from the Machiavellian doctrine that the “end justifies the means”.
That Doctrine and the positions assumed by the court in Ghana are opposed to the American doctrine of the “poisoned tree”. A poisoned tree bears poisoned fruits. Therefore, poisoned evidence must not be admissible in courts of the United States of America.
Based on this doctrine, Anas’ evidence is, therefore, not admissible in American courts.
The various points that the embattled Ghanaian judges have raised in their suit to the ECOWAS Court – cut across Ghana’s territorial and legal boundaries.
How are courts of law outside Ghana likely to approach the case? How is the ECOWAS Court going to define and interpret evidence and its admissibility?
When compared with similar cases in Nigeria, it should be noted that the Nigerian National Judicial Council (NJC) has disclosed recently that since 2000, it had regularly received and dealt with petitions from the Department of State Service (DSS) against some judges bordering on corruption and abuse of office.
The NJC has added that it dealt with those petitions. Actions taken by the NJC included dismissals, suspensions, etc., of judges who were found guilty.
Compared with the cases based on Anas’ exposé, it appears that, unlike Nigeria’s, Ghana’s law enforcement agencies went to sleep.
An outlaw private investigator with a private investigation firm unknown to the law, assumed the functions assigned in law to state security agencies.
In the process, Anas and his firm appear to have trampled upon the law with impunity.
He failed to obtain a permit from a judge to invade the privacy of judges of courts in Ghana.
Indeed, for two years, Tiger Eye PI secret agents moved into and out of high, circuit and magistrate courts in the country with hidden cameras and monies.
In the light of the Nigerian National Judicial Council’s reaction to the recent raid and search of homes of superior court justices (The Mirror, October 21 – 27, 2016), I doubt if the Anas’ evidence would receive a hearing in Nigeria’s courts – because of the circumstances mentioned earlier –including the fact that the President of Ghana omitted to do due process by examining the legal status of Anas and his firm before presenting the petition to the Chief Justice.
In the Ghanaian example, it appears that Anas and his firm had poisoned the sea of justice to catch big sharks.
How is the ECOWAS Court going to react to Anas’ “poisoned” evidence and the reliefs that the embattled Ghanaian judges are seeking?