Documents in possession of JoyNews reveal the chief at the centre of the alleged $5 million bribe involving the Chief Justice (CJ), Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, had actually tried to get the CJ off the case.
An attempt was made to get senior Supreme Court Judge, Jones Doste, off the matter as well.
Ogyeedom Obrani Kwesi Atta IV’s former lawyer, Kwasi Afrifa, claims the CJ had asked for a $5 million bribe to deliver a favourable judgment.
The traditional ruler secured a $16 million judgment debt against Ghana Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (now Vodafone Ghana Ltd.) from the High Court, Swedru.
Following an admission by the Lands Commission, the court arrived at the conclusion that it had granted some disputed land to Vodafone Ghana Limited under a mistaken belief that the land was state land, which had been duly acquired by Executive Instrument and compensation paid to Ogyeedom’s predecessor in title.
The telecommunication giant unsuccessfully appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal. It then proceeded to the Supreme Court. While this remained pending, Vodafone claimed to have discovered documents showing its ownership of the land.
This included signed receipts confirming that the land had been acquired under Executive Instrument No. 86 (E.I. 86) and compensation fully paid in 1969 by the government to acquire the land to one Nana Obranu Gura II, Ogyeedom’s predecessor in title.
Vodafone, therefore, filed an application for leave to adduce fresh evidence in the Supreme Court. It also filed for a stay of execution pending a determination of the appeal. This was granted.
Ogyeedom also alleged the said documents had been forged and asked to be allowed to adduce evidence. This was also granted by the Apex Court.
Ogyeedom wants Judges out
Ogyeedom Obrani Kwesi Atta, in September 2020, petitioned the Chief Justice, asking him (CJ) and Justice Jones Dotse to recuse themselves from the case.
He explained that this will assure him of a fair hearing. He accused the Chief Justice of raising issues about whether a village land could be that expensive in open court.
This is said to have been a reference to the $16 million judgment debt the chief had won against Vodafone.
The chief additionally questioned why the panel of five judges had been increased to seven, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision granting Vodafone a stay of execution would not have been granted had the panel remained five.
He also asked that Justice Jones Dotse recused himself from the case for comments he had made while ruling in a different matter.
He is said to have stated: “We have found the suppression of vital evidence of the third defendants herein not only in this case but also in an unreported case dated 28th April 2021, entitled Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI vs Ghana Telecommunication Company Ltd vs Another, where we had to deal with issues of suppression of vital and material evidence by officials of the third defendant which if available would have put the evidence before the court for adjudication”.
Ogyeedom noted in his petition
“…this assertion of Justice Dotse clearly meant that even before the substantive matter is heard, a decision had already been reached in favour of the appellant (Vodafone) that there had been suppression of evidence”.
He, therefore, requested that the two judges recused themselves.
Justice Dotse responded to the petition in October 2020. He described it as lacking substance and written in very bad taste “with the sole intention of picking and choosing their own panel of judges.”
He insisted that the enlargement of the panel from five to seven was premised upon the realization that the points of substance raised for determination might require the court to depart from previous binding decisions.
He added that he did not recall the Chief Justice making a comment about whether a village land could be worth that amount.
“…such a comment is entirely not prejudicial and has not been the basis of the decisions of the panel then and now.”
On the allegations of bias against him (Justice Dotse), he insisted the quotation attributed to him was taken out of context.
He explained that the said comment emphasised the fact that such evidence will nonetheless have to be put before the court for adjudication.
He concluded as follows; “the petitioner herein should not be allowed to pick and choose his own court and also be permitted to smear the court with unfounded, baseless and spurious allegations without substance”.
JoyNews has since sighted a January 2020, memo sent to the Chief Justice requesting an enhanced panel. Portions read; “… anticipating that the resolution of this issue in the ruling might necessitate a departure from settled authorities of the Court, we respectfully crave your indulgence to enhance the panel to seven to enable us to re-hear the matter….”
The Chief Justice presided over this enhanced panel of seven justices who went on to grant an order for stay of execution of Ogyeedom’s entire judgment.
The Panel also made a consequential order that Ogyeedom should refund into court, the part payment of the judgment debt of some $4 million that he had already received from Vodafone.
The court subsequently granted an application for fresh evidence to be adduced by Vodafone.
Ogyeedom then brought another application before the Supreme Court, also asking for leave to lead fresh evidence to contradict the fresh evidence that Vodafone had been granted leave to adduce.
The crux of his application was that he wanted an opportunity to demonstrate to the Court that the signatures of Nana Obranu Gura II, his predecessor in title, on the compensation receipts had been forged.
By a majority of four to one, the Court granted the application in favour of Ogyeedom.
Only the Chief Justice, Kwesi Anin Yeboah, dissented, insisting that it was wrong to give Ogyeedom an opportunity to remake his case.