One of the accused High Court judges in the recent corruption scandal has denied receiving any money from investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas as bribe to influence any judgment. A response to the Chief Justices’ query written by lawyer for Justice Essel Mensah said “the edited video footage which is the primary document upon which the petitioner [Anas Aremeyaw Anas] is grounding his petition, does not show that our client received or touched any money from the petitioner or [King] Gabriel.”
The judge admitted that a court officer, King Gabriel approached him with a family member who is now revealed to be a member of Anas’ investigative team for legal advice.
The judge stated that upon realizing the said case his legal opinion was being sought was a case before him, he flatly denied any involvement in the matter.
Justice Essel Mensah further stated that at no point in time was there any video evidence that he had taken money from the court official or the investigators who were masquerading as family members of the court official.
“The edited video rather shows Gabriel putting the money next to his (Gabriel’s) side on the floor when the said money was flatly rejected by our client. The edited video footage did not in anywhere show our client taking the money and that the said money was taken back by the petitioner upon its rejection by our client.”
The judge in the letter from his lawyer, Gary Nimako Marfo, further accused the investigative team of editing out, the part of the video where he clearly rejected the amount of money which was then laid beside the court official [King Gabriel].
Below is his full response to the Chief Justice:
16th September, 2015
THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE
REPUBLIC OF GHANA
REF: OCJ/PVOL 41/B
Dear Hon. Ladyship,
The Chief Justice
RESPONSE TO PETITION FOR REMOVAL OF HIS LORDSHIP JUSTICE KOFI ESSEL MENSAH FROM OFFICE IN ACCORDANCE WITH ARTICLE 146 OF THE 1992 CONSTITUTION ON ALLEGATION OF BRIBERY
We act as solicitors for His Lordship Kofi Essel Mensah and we write pursuant to his instructions.
We are informed that our client has been accused by the tigereyepi of receiving an amount of Five Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢ 5,000.00) to influence him to acquit an accused person in the matter of the Republic V Mohammed Nii Baah.
Accordingly our client was served with a petition by the Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana in a letter dated 9th September 2015.
The letter was accompanied by a transcript of an alleged communication between our client and other persons including the petitioner.
The letter was received by our client on 11th September 2015 and was informed to respond to matters raised in the petition by 14th September 2015.
The petition for the removal of our client was said to be accompanied by audio visuals however the said audio visuals was not part of the letter delivered to our client.
In view of the aforesaid, Counsel was compelled to write to the Honourable Chief Justice on 14th September 2015 requesting for a copy of the said audio visuals in order to properly respond to the matters raised in the petition.
In furtherance, Counsel requested for an extension of time to enable him conduct a search on the status of the said case in which our client is alleged to have received money to acquit the accused person in the Registry of the High Court, Human Rights Division, Accra and same was graciously granted by Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice.
We shall now proceed to deliver our response to the petition seeking to remove our client for allegedly receiving money to influence him to acquit an accused person in the case supra.
Our client informs us that Mr. Gabriel Achana, who is a judicial service staff happens to be a very respectful person who normally comes to greet him almost every morning when he reports for work.
That it is a very common practice that a judge and a staff cannot be seen to be antagonistic towards each other. Our client informs us that somewhere in January 2015, Mr. Gabriel Achana told him infront of the Human Rights Court that he has some cousins who have a legal problem so he would like to consult our client for some legal advice. It is for the purpose of the said legal advice that our client allowed Mr. Gabriel Achana to come to his house.
We are informed that when Gabriel arrived, he introduced the two persons who he described as his cousins to our client. He further went on to introduce the topic and our client realised that the discussion was going to centre on case relating to the accused by name Mohammed Nii Baah who has been charged with murder and a bail application was pending before him. Our client informs us that he suddenly lost interest in the discussion and told Gabriel and his brothers who have now been revealed to our client as tigereyepi that he has been on the bench since 1991 and thus he was not interested in taking anybody’s money. Thus our client’s unwillingness to accept money was clearly manifested in his demeanor when we watched the edited video footage of the incident.
It is also instructive to point out that in furtherance of our client’s unwillingness to accept any money, he refused to even touch it compelling Gabriel to put the money next to himself. The edited video footage demonstrably shows that at no point in time did our client negotiate, accept, receive or even touch any money from Gabriel or Tigereypi for the purpose of granting bail to the accused person.
We are informed that upon refusal of our client to accept the money, they took it away at the close of their deliberations but surprisingly that portion has been deleted from the video recording.
We wish to respectfully state that the edited video footage which the petitioner is relying upon to say that he gave money to our client does not support the allegation because there is nowhere in the footage that it was captured that our client received money from the petitioner.
We wish to further state in clear and unequivocal terms and in all certainty that the allegation of bribery leveled against our client is untrue for the following reasons:
iii. That the edited video footage did not in anywhere show our client taking the money and that the said money was taken back by the petitioner upon its rejection by our client.
vii. That in the attached transcript of the alleged communication between our client, an official of the court by name Gabriel and tigereyepi, our client was quoted to have categorically rejected for offer of GH¢ 5,000.00 by Gabriel and tigereypi saying that “no this one would give me problem” as if he knew that one day this matter would emerge.
viii. That there is nowhere in the transcript or the edited video footage that there is an indication to suggest that our client accepted GH¢ 5,000.00 to influence him to acquit an accused person in the matter of the Republic V Mohammed Nii Baah.
xii. That again the allegation that our client has “strategized” severally on how to free the accused person is incorrect as same is not supported by the attached transcript and the edited video footage.
xiii. That our client does not trial criminal cases and therefore it is factually incorrect to be said to have acquitted an accused person before him.
xiv. That the application before him was a bail application and that the accused person has not been granted bail by our client and same is evidenced by the records of the court. Attached are copies of a search conducted in the registry of the court and certified copies of all the processes filed in the case confirming that the accused person, Mohammed Nii Baah has not been granted bail by our client.
In view of the aforesaid, we wish to humbly state that the petition for the removal of our client for having accepted a bribe of GH¢ 5,000.00 from tigereyepi to influence him to acquit an accused person in the matter of the Republic Vrs Mohammed Nii Baah is without any merit and same ought to be dismissed by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana.
We pray accordingly.
Gary Nimako Marfo Esq.
(Barrister & Solicitor @ Law)
Cc: His Lordship Justice Kofi Essel Mensah
Justice of the High Court