It may go down in history as the single most massive bribery scandal to hit Ghana’s Judiciary, as 180 officials of the Judicial Service have been caught on camera taking bribes and extorting money from litigants.
Thirty-four of the suspected culprits are said to be judges at the High, the Circuit and the District courts. Some of the culprits have also been linked to sex scandals in a three-hour edited video emanating from a two-year investigation into corrupt practices in the Judicial Service.
Trending Information gathered by the Daily Graphic indicates that ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who conducted the investigations across the country, is under intense pressure not to air the video as planned.
Those against the airing of the video are of the view that it will embarrass and cripple the judicial system, while those in support hold the position that it would rather weed out the bad lots and serve as a deterrent to anyone who intends to engage in corrupt practices in the service.
Anas has since petitioned the Judicial Service and is requesting the removal from office of the culprits, whose names are yet to be released. The ace journalist and officials of the Judicial Service are tight-lipped over the issue, but snippets of information picked up by the Daily Graphic indicate that all the affected officials will be interdicted, while the Judicial Service conducts further investigations.
It has also emerged that there is immense tension at the service, following rumours that some judges, who sat on high- profile cases in the past, have been identified in the scandal.
Five of the judges are said to have fallen sick suddenly, with one suffering a mild stroke. Others are reported to be pleading with higher authorities to be permitted to resign in lieu of prosecution.
It is not clear whether or not the culprits will be prosecuted, but a highly placed source at the Judicial Service said: “We have received a copy of the petition and we are looking into the issue thoroughly. Ghanaians will be updated in due course.”
The Judiciary is perceived to be one of the most corrupt institutions of state, and although a couple of judges and Judicial Service staff have either been interdicted or dismissed for wrongful acts, this new video explicitly captures judges and court clerks extorting money and receiving bribes.
A couple of lawyers, with whom the Daily Graphic spoke, said they had also gathered some information regarding the scandal.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, some of them said the situation was scandalous and expressed the hope that it would lead to the ridding of the judicial system of those who were corrupt. Some members of the public are excited about the build-up to the airing of the video.
Social media is rife with information regarding the alleged scandal, but no names have been dropped yet.
Anas, in a recent media encounter, gave hint of the magnitude of his latest investigations.
Corruption in the judiciary
The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has for consecutive years cited the judiciary as one of the most corrupt institutions in Ghana. The judiciary has also been on the corruption radar of the Instiute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and recently, the Judgement Debt Commission’s report also attributed the cause of some judgement debt against the state to the judiciary.