Lawyer and advocate for legal education reforms in Ghana, Mawuse Oliver Barker-Vormawor has asserted that criticizing the courts will not bring it into disrepute more than the Anas documentary that exposed judiciary corruption on tape.
Mr. Barker-Vormawor is of the view that if the judges and staff of the Judicial Service who were involved in a corruption scandal in Anas’ “Eye of God” documentary that rocked the judiciary a few years ago did not bring the judiciary into disrepute, media criticism of the judiciary cannot bring it into disrepute as as the Judicial Service has suggested.
The Judicial Service last week ordered media houses to pull down all “incendiary” “spiteful” or “vengeful” publications against the courts, especially those about Supreme Court judges sitting on the 2020 Election Petition, arguing that such publications have the potential of undermining the judiciary’s ability to administer justice.
But Mr. Barker-Vormawor has criticized the order by the Judicial Service.
“Did you know that over 100 Judges and members of the Judicial Service accepted (and possibly many more continue to accept) bribes including goats as bribe, in order to compromise Justice?
“Did you know how many of these judges and judicial service staff were held in contempt for scandalizing the court? ZERO!” he said.
He recalled that prior to the Anas video, the Supreme Court refused to grant Raymond Atuguba audience because he had said that, based on personal experience, no one can convince him that some Judges do not take bribe or that at the very least Ghanaians do not attempt to bribe judges.
According to the lawyer, when the Raymond Atuguba issue came up, the Bar supported the judges and everyone was screaming their heads off like he had killed a man, until a few moments later, judges were on video dragging goats away as bribe.
He believes that if the act of corruption itself by the Bench and their support staff did not bring the Court into such disrepute as to have Ghanaians shun the Courts completely, it is hard to convince anyone that that reporting about corruption and wrong conducts of the judiciary will do them any harm.
“Please do not believe the ridiculous lie that criticizing the Court and subjecting them to public scrutiny is what will bring down the Courts and make us degenerate into pure and total anarchy.
People who hold and hoard absolute power will do everything to keep on to it. They will tell you that the heavens will fall if they can’t exercise that power; they will tell you that you are too uneducated and ill-informed to be trusted so they need the power to punish you.
Do not believe the hype. Power expects zero accountability,” He wrote.
Others have criticized the Judicial Service for issuing the order to the media houses, describing it as an attempt to gag the public.
IMANI Africa President, Franklin Cudjoe has for instance said that the statement from the judicial service is an attempt to gag the media and civil society, but that cannot be allowed to happen.