CJ’S Vicky Gossip Probe Collapses

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A-G Declines Membership, Ms. Hammah To Adopt Bawumia’s “You And I Were Not There” Formula

The Justice Date-Bah Committee, set up by the Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Georgina Wood, to investigate a dismissed Deputy Minister, Victoria Hammah’s gossip, that the nine-member panel of justices that heard the Election Petition, were influenced by the Gender and Social Protection Minister, Nana Oye Lithur, also a Lawyer, is suffering a still birth, even before its first sitting.

The Herald’s unimpeachable sources close to the Attorney-General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, reveal she has declined membership of the Committee set up by the CJ at the instance of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to probe a “hearsay” claim by Victoria Hammah that Nana Oye met the nine justices ahead of the Election Petition verdict.

Mrs. Appiah-Oppong, who until her appointment as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, was a partner at LithurBrew and Company, the law firm that represented President John Mahama in the petition, believes recusing herself from the committee is the proper thing to do, since she does not want to be caught in a conflict of interest situation.

Meanwhile, Deputy A-G, Dr. Domic Ayine, will not be replacing Mrs. Appiah-Oppong, for the same reasons.

Dr. Ayine, himself is a senior partner at Ayine and Feli, a law firm where another member of the President’s legal team, Dr. Basit Aziz Bamba, practises.

But insiders told The Herald that the Committee, will still have a quorum to carry out its mandate of investigating Ms. Hammah’s telephone gossip.

The Herald’s legal consultants, expressed shock at the petition filed by the NPP and subsequent setting up of the Committee by the CJ.

The experts, told this paper that, Ms. Hammah has nothing to answer about her telephone gossip, adding she was not privy to any meeting between Nana Oye Lithur and the nine justices if indeed, the said meeting took place, to them, Ms. Hammah can destroy the probe with Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s “You and I were Not There” mantra, which collapsed the NPP election petition case.

The eight member panel was constituted at an emergency meeting held by the Judicial Council on Thursday, November 14, 2013, following a petition filed by the opposition NPP.

A retired Supreme Court judge, Dr. Justice S.K. Date-Bah chairs the committee.

Other members include; Nana Dr. S.K.B. Asante, a traditional ruler, the Attorney-General, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Mr. Frank Beecham, Nene A.O. Amegatcher; the president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Ms. Joyce N. N. Oku and Mrs. Elleen Odartei-Laryea.

The Judicial Secretary, Justice Opoku-Acheampong, will be the secretary. It has two weeks from its first sitting to submit its report to the CJ and the Judicial Council.

Ms. Hamah, in a comment on a leaked tape said, she had heard that Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Nana Oye Lithur, met with the justices of the Supreme Court, hearing the election petition prior to the verdict.

Her gossip suggested that the Minister, whose husband, Mr. Tony Lithur, was the lead counsel for the first respondent, President John Mahama, in the petition, may have influenced the outcome of the case. The ruling was 5-4 in favour of the respondents; President Mahama, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Mrs. Lithur has denied the allegations, but the NPP said the denial was not enough.

The General Secretary of the party, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, said he was not expecting Nana Oye Lithur to admit to things attributed to her by Ms. Hamah.

He said, it was frequently important that the claims of the sacked Deputy Minister were investigated in order to maintain the sanctity of the judiciary and integrity of the judges.

Acting on the petition and adopting the proposal of the CJ, the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee, set up a committee to undertake an administrative inquiry into the allegations.

By virtue of her position as the Attorney-General, Mrs. Appiah-Oppong, was an automatic member of the committee.

But she has recused herself and her Deputy has also recused himself.
The Judicial Secretary, Justice Opoku-Acheampong in a statement said, the nine justices who on sat on Election Petition have already been written to by the CJ to respond to the allegations.

A private legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Ayenini, is quoted as saying the committee could have difficulties compelling Ms. Hamah to appear before it.

He explained that because it was undertaking a purely administrative inquiry, it did not have the powers of a High Court and could therefore not subpoena her to appear if she chooses not to.

For Nana Oye Lithur, he said, because she is a lawyer, she cannot possibly decline an invitation by the Committee.
A member of the NDC legal team, Mr. Abraham Amaliba, has charged the CJ to compile scandalous comments made by some individuals on the election petition case for careful scrutiny.

“We will wish that the CJ will extend some of the Committee’s work to compile comments made by Sammy Awuku, when the petition was made and comments made by Sam Okudzeto when he scandalised the whole ruling by saying that Justice Atuguba read a different judgement,” Mr. Amaliba stressed on Accra-based Citi FM.

Although Abraham Amaliba welcomed the decision, he emphasized the need for the Chief Justice to be fair and objective by bringing on board members of the various parties, who made scandalous comments against the Supreme Court.

“We welcome the decision of the Chief Justice to set up a committee. However the Supreme Court and the judiciary know whatever happened and would also be interested in comments that will undermine the judicial interest; so sometimes on its own motion, you don’t need to necessarily petition the Chief Justice but now that a petition has been filed, it is just proper for the Chief Justice to bring on board other comments made by various party members on the election petition case.”

Nana Oye, on November 9, 2013 in a press statement denied media report creamed from Ms. Hammah’s taped conversation describing the allegations as “untrue and preposterous”.

“For the record, I do not have any sort of relationship with any of the judges who sat on the Petition, which would form the basis of any discussion or meeting with any of them in relation to it”, she said.

She went on “for the avoidance of doubt, I have never met, communicated or had any discussion with any judge with a view to influencing the outcome of the presidential election petition”.

According to her, “anybody who has had the slightest acquaintance with me would have been astonished by the suggestion that I would attempt to subvert the course of justice by interfering with the judicial process”.

“My professional life as a human rights lawyer and activist has been built around due process and insistence on the integrity of the Judiciary. I believe that is the surest way of protecting the rights I have fought for most of my working life”, adding “the suggestion therefore that I would participate in compromising the Judiciary is utterly outrageous to me”.

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