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ASEPA considers legal action for more info on petition for CJ’s removal

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The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) says it may consider legal action if the Presidency does not change its position on denying the group information on the progress of its request for processes to be triggered for the removal of the Chief Justice over the $5 million bribery allegation.

The office of the President, in a statement dated August 3, 2021, insisted that it is not obliged to furnish the CSO with any more information than what it has already provided.

It said it is not aware of any law, rule, or practise that requires a petitioner to be furnished with what ASEPA described as vital information, adding that, “it could not have been contemplated that the information you requested in your letter would have been made available to you in any event.”

“In our view, having submitted the petition, nothing more is required of you in the matter to warrant any reports being made to you, further to our acknowledgement of receipt.”

The Presidency further rebuked the group for circulating on social media its response to their request.

Responding to this on the Eyewitness News, the Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson, said their request is primarily in the interest of Ghanaians.

“This is one of the most laughable statements I have seen yet. The core issue is that the people of Ghana deserve to know, even though the constitution talks about the processes being done in-camera, there is nowhere in that same constitution that speaks against transparency.”

“We believe that as petitioners, the action we have taken is not on our behalf but in the stead of the people of Ghana. Our action is also to protect the judiciary, and the people of Ghana need to be carried along. They need to know [what is being done] at every step of the way.”

He insisted that the CSO deserves to be updated on every step of the way since they are the petitioners in the case.

“As petitioners, we are entitled to every little information because we are a party to this petition. I am surprised that this is coming from a lawyer, someone who is supposed to know better.”

“We are going to respond to this letter appropriately. We are in discussions with our lawyers, and if there be a need to seek legal redress, we will. Especially the false interpretation of Article 146 (6) of the constitution. In respect of the Chief Justice, there is no mention of a prima facie case. A Supreme Court interpretation cannot override a constitutional provision.”

Background
A lawyer, Akwasi Afrifa while responding to a petition filed against him at the General Legal Council alleged that a former client he was representing at the Supreme Court told him that the Chief Justice had demanded a US$5 million bribe from him to allegedly influence a court case in his favour.

But the Chief Justice in a statement on Monday, July 12, 2021, denied making such a demand.

He subsequently directed that a formal complaint be made to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service for investigations and the necessary action taken in the matter.

But Mensah Thompson said the decision to petition the CID is unnecessary and that the only other option available to the Chief Justice was to petition the CID as a private citizen.

“What is reserved for the Chief Justice is taking private legal action against the lawyer making the allegations against him but to drag the CID into this matter, for me, I think it is an abuse of office and unwarranted.”

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