The Herald has landed a dossier on the case in which the Chief Justice, Kwesi Anim Yeboah, is being accused of demanding US$5 million bribe, and is alleged to have already pocketed some US$500, 000 to cook a favourable judgment for the litigant, the chief of Afransie in the Central Region.
The dossier, with documents dating back to December 1, 2003, revealed the traditional ruler at the center of the case, might be using the Court to further his questionable interest, that is seeking to collect an amount of money as compensation from Ghana Telecom Company on a land for which compensation had been paid to another person as far back as October 6, 1969.
Interestingly, 52 years on, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, is in court demanding more money in the case entitled Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI versus Ghana Telecommunications Co. Ltd, with Civil Suit No.J8/96/2020.
The December 1, 2003 letter, authored by the Land Valuation Board is addressed to Company Solicitor Ghana Telecom, HQ Telecom House Accra-North and entitled "Re: Gomoa Afransie – Site for Ghana Telecom Relay Station ''.
It revealed that one Nana Obranu Gurah II, was paid a total amount of Eight Hundred and Fifty New Cedis (Nc850, 00) as compensation on the said land on October 6, 1969.
The document mentioned one A-G Sam, as having witnessed the receipt of the money 52 years ago. It is unclear, if these documents have been made available to the Courts and what weight has been put on it. Again, Ghana Telecom, has since 2008, become Vodafone after the latter acquired 70percent of the company from the Kufuor-government at a cost of US$900 million and a total enterprise value of approximately US$1.3 billion. It is therefore, unclear who is paying these compensations.
The Herald, has seen a photocopy of the receipt confirming the payment made to the said Nana Obranu Gurah II, which leaves many within his traditional area as to what Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, is in Supreme Court demanding from the Ghana Telecommunication.
There are claims that Ghana Telecom per the ongoing process, has already paid some US$5 million to Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, whose locality in 2019, was elevated to a Paramountcy by the Akufo-Addo government through the instrumentality of then Chieftaincy Minister, Kofi Dzamesi, despite protest from the National House of Chiefs. Some chiefs in Gomoa, had also protested at the elevation of the Afransie to paramountcy.
The Land Valuation Board document signed for one K Bentsi-Enchill, identified an Executive-Secretary bears the heading: "Re: Gomoa Afransie-Site For Ghana Telecom Relay Station", and it said "this is to acknowledge your letter of even reference dated October 13, 2003 on the above subject matter and to furnish you the understated details in response to your request".
It said that "the subject site's acquisition was effected by the state lands (Swedru Microwave Station) instrument, 1969- E.I. 86/69. Only one claimant, in the person of Nana Obranu Gurah II, submitted a claim for compensation within the statutory period of three months, as at then, specified under the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125)".
According to the letter, "a total compensation amount of Eight Hundred and Fifty New Cedis (N¢850.00) was paid, received and receipted for by the said Nana Obranu Gurah II on 6th October 1969. A-G Sam witnessed the receipt. A photocopy of the receipt is attached herewith".
"Based on the facts as stated in the immediate past paragraph, the Board considers the issue of compensation claims and payment relating to this acquisition as fully finalized and closed. The Board therefore finds your assertion "that as at present there are two rival claimants for compensation in respect of the above – named site" rather intriguing and confirms its knowledge of only the above cited claim, subsequently processed and paid".
"It must be emphasize that under Section 4(1) of the operative law, State Lands Act, 1962(Act 125) "Any person claiming a right and having interest in any land subject to an instrument made under Section 1 of this Act …. shall within three months from the date of the publication of the instrument ……… submit in writing to the Minister,
(a) Particulars of his claim or interest
(b) The manner in which his claim or interest has been affected by the instrument,
(c) The extent of any damage done.
(d) The amount of the compensation claimed and the basis for the calculation of the compensation."
The onus therefore always rests with the person claiming to have an interest or right in a land to make a claim for compensation and establish his or her title. If the person overlooks or fails to establish his or her title, for any reason as at the time of the instrument's publication, and compensation is eventually paid to another person who on the face of the documents he/she holds, is judged to have title of the land, the second claimant has to follow the compensation into the hands of the first claimant upon asserting his/her superior title later".
The letter ended by saying that "it is anticipated that the above information fully satisfies your request for evidence and further addresses the implications thereof but do not hesitate to call back on any queries you may have".
On receipt of the Land Valuation document, one Oystein Bjorge in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer, wrote to one Abusuatsir Nana Segu of House number 512, Etsifi Street, Agona Abodom – Central Region, saying "on the strength of the above revelation we are unable to pay compensation to you as demanded and we consider this matter as closed".
Oystein Bjorge's letter dated February 3, 2004 and entitled: "Payment of Compensation - Re: Gomoa Afransie-Site For Ghana Telecom Relay Station" reads "We refer to your letter on the above subject demanding compensation for the use of the above site by Ghana Telecom".
"We have attached hereof, a self-explanatory letter from the Land Valuation Board, Accra. Indicating that compensation for the use of the said land, had long been paid to one Nana Obranu Gurah II of Afransie and the same was witnessed by A-G Sam on 6th October 1969".
Interestingly, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI's attempt to get more money as compensation on the land, has led the eruption of scandal which the Chief Justice is alleged by his onetime friend and lawyer, Akwasi Afrifa, to have demanded US$ 5 million bribe to give a favourable judgment, a claim he has since denied.
The Chief Justice, has since shockingly petitioned the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to probe the bribery allegation made against him by his onetime friend and lawyer, Akwasi Afrifa, and leaving many especially, those in the legal fraternity finding it difficult to appreciate the fact that Justice Anim Yeboah is choosing how and who probes him.
The bribery allegations were contained in Lawyer Afrifa's response to a petition filed against him by Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI at the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council (GLC).
Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, dragged Mr Afrifa to the GLC, alleging that he collected $100,000 from him with a promise to help get a favourable judgment in the case.
The Herald's findings are that Accra-based lawyer, Ace Annan Ankomah, had represented Ghana Telecommunications Co. Ltd in the case at the Supreme Court ,while Akoto Ampaw, who was mentioned by Lawyer Afrifa, as having been recommended by the Chief Justice as his replacement, represented Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI.
Ogyeedom Atta IV, had asked the GLC to order Mr Afrifa to refund the $100,000, saying the lawyer failed to deliver on his promise to get him a favourable court decision.
But in a response dated July 8, Mr Afrifa, denied the claims of Ogyeedom Kwesi Atta VI, further alleging that he was asked to refund GHc300,000 in legal fees to enable his client to raise a $5million bribe to be paid to the Chief Justice to get a favourable decision in the legal dispute.
Lawyer Afrifa, made two interesting, but damning allegations against the Chief Justice, who was not mentioned in Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta's petition to the GLC.
Lawyer Afrifa, had said that his client told him he was able to negotiate with Chief Justice Anim Yeboah to accept a US$5 million bribe for him to win the case at the Supreme Court and that he had already paid US$500,000 to the Chief Justice.
According to Lawyer Afrifa, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta, had told him that the Chief Justice, had counselled him to dump him (Kwasi Afrifa), and go for Akoto Ampaw as that was the only way he could help him win the case at the Supreme.
The case in respect of which these allegations were made originally travelled from the Swedru High Court, to the Court of Appeal and now with the Supreme Court.
It is a litigation over land that the Chief, on one side, and Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd and Lands Commission, on the other side, are claiming ownership.
At the High Court, judgment was entered in favor of the Chief. The Cape Coast Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the High Court in favor of the Chief with lots of money to be raked by him from Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd.
Mr Afrifa, was only engaged by the Chief when the case travelled to the Court of Appeal. And this was rightly captured in Kwasi Afrifa's response to the GLC and documents from the court we have sighted also support this assertion.
After the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the High Court in favor of the Chief, Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd and Lands Commission, filed a civil appeal at the Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court, Kwasi Afrifa, again represented the Chief, but was led by Sam Joseph. This also supports Kwasi Afrifa's assertion in his response to the GLC that he was engaged by the Chief to support another lawyer.
At the Supreme Court, Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd, filed for stay of execution which was granted in their favor, but in a manner that they considered not in their favor, so the motion was repeated.
Justice Anim Yeboah Chaired the panel, but the ruling was delivered by Justice Gbadegbe. After this ruling, Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd filed another application, this time round for adduction of fresh evidence, this application was granted in favor of the Company.
Amorse Blessing Amos wrote that "it was at this stage that funny things started to happen".
For the new application to be heard, documents from the Supreme Court indicate that the Chief replaced Kwasi Afrifa with Akoto Ampaw. This was where Akoto Ampaw came into the picture. Chief Justice Anim Yeboah reconstituted the panel but chaired it.
In fact he was the only Supreme Court judge who remained on the panel. The Court granted the application in a unanimous decision. Not exhausted, a new application was filed again for adduction of additional evidence.
Chief Justice Anim Yeboah again reconstituted the panel but remained on it as its Chair. At this stage, Akoto Ampaw represented the Chief at the Supreme Court. Judgment was given in favor of Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd to adduce fresh evidence.
Interestingly, out of the five Justices who heard this application, it was only Justice Anim Yeboah who dissented and agreed with Akoto Ampaw. The point must be made that, before Akoto Ampaw took over the case, Chief Justice Anim Yeboah, sided with his colleagues in the first two applications and thus, both applications were unanimous decisions. It was only when Akoto Ampaw took over the case that the Chief Justice decided to take a different stance on the issue.
The Chief and new lawyer, Akoto Ampaw are seeking to stop Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd from adducing new evidence to overturn judgment of the High Court.
Chief Justice Anim Yeboah agrees with them but his colleagues namely; Yoni Kulendi, Justice Owusu, Justice Honyenuga, Justice Amadu Tanko disagreed.
The main case is pending at the Supreme Court. It is yet to be established whether the addiction of new evidence will overturn the high Court judgement. But so far, the conduct of the Chief Justice seems to confirm the allegations contained in Kwasi Afrifa's response to the petition before the GLC. The coming days will be interesting.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah has rejected claims that he demanded an amount of $5 million to supposedly influence a court case and subsequently petitioned the CID to probe the allegation made against him by Akwasi Afrifa, one onetime friend.
"His Lordship has directed that a formal complaint be made to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service for investigations and the necessary action," the petition signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cynthia Pamela Addo said.
"His Lordship is saddened that, without any shred of evidence, his name has been dragged into this sordid and potentially criminal matter. His Lordship confirms that he does not know the plaintiff and has not met or seen him anywhere, except in the courtroom when he rises to announce his name when his case is called. His Lordship asserts that he has had no personal interaction either with the plaintiff or his lawyer on this matter or in any other matter," the Chief Justice said in the petition.
The Chief Justice has also directed that a petition should be lodged with the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council in respect of the specific matter.
The Chief Justice, has also threatened civil action in court to clear his name.
The Herald is digging for details of the disciplinary hearing which was billed for yesterday July 15, 2021.