EIB Upper East Regional Reporter, Edward Adeti, says, he never took the matter of bribery allegations against Charles Taleog Ndanbon, Maxwell Wooma and Suwaid Abdul-Mumi to the Bolgatanga Circuit Court for prosecution.
A1radioonline.com published a story, that, the Bolga Circuit Court in Bolgatanga threw out all allegations brought before it by, Edward Adeti, against some three individuals who are linked to the Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd as staff and business partners.
The trio; Charles Taleog Ndanbon, Maxwell Wooma and Suwaid Abdul-Mumin were standing trial at the court for allegedly bribing the journalist Edward Adeti not to publish a story against Shaanxi mining company.
But in a rejoinder, Mr. Adeti, indicated that, he never took the matter to court, adding that, the state based upon a complaint report by him, prosecuted the accused persons.
Below is his rejoinder
A Rejoinder: The Truth of the Matter on Shaanxi Bribery Case
Your medium, www.a1radioonline.com, published on Thursday August 13, 2020, a report with the caption (verbatim) “SHANXI BRIBERY SCANDAL: COURT THROWS OUT CASE, ACQUITS AND DISCHARGES ACCUSED PERSONS”. I will be brief.
A Republic case
The report says the Circuit Court in Bolgatanga threw out all allegations brought by me, Edward Adeti, against some three individuals who are linked to the Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd as staff and business partners.
The statement seeks to suggest the case was Edward Adeti versus the accused persons. On the contrary, it was the Republic versus the accused individuals. The Republic was represented by the Attorney-General’s Department and the Ghana Police Service whilst the accused persons were represented by their lawyers. I only appeared in court as a witness. It was never my case. That was why the case was titled “The Republic vrs Charles Taleog Ndanbon, Maxwell Wooma and Suwaid Abdul-Mumin.”
From the early days of the trial, the presiding judge, His Honour Malcolm Bedzrah, made it clear openly and strongly in the courtroom that the burden to sustain the case lay on the entities representing the Republic and not the witness. So, if the court granted acquittal and discharged the accused persons for technical reasons which the judge blamed on the police prosecutorial procedure, the spotlight is on the Republic, not me.
It was based on my investigation the court case came about but, as the court puts it, the prosecution failed on its part procedurally. The court did not conclude, and does not say, that there was no bribery. If I decided tomorrow to pursue the matter as my case using at a different forum, say for example the Office of the Special Prosecutor, all of those involved in the scandal would be invited; it would not be limited to the three individuals whom the Republic handpicked to prosecute in this case, and the outcome might be different. It was not my case. The Republic chose its own path and lost it. I did not send any case anywhere. I have not lost any case anywhere. Your site got it wrong.
The court also said it would have no option but to acquit and discharge the accused persons (after their lawyers had filed an application for submission of no case) because I (the witness) was not a public officer. The law, we are told, deals with only bribery cases involving public officers in the country. It would imply that if I had been a public officer, the trial would have continued. Of course, the development has generated questions from the public.
Some people have said Anas Aremeyaw Anas is not a public officer, but the judges who attempted to bribe him were dismissed and the appeals those judges made in court for reinstatement were not considered despite the fact that Anas was not a public officer. The Kwesi Nyantakyi and several other examples keep coming from people who are of the view that the three accused persons should not have been freed also on the grounds that the witness or the complainant was not a public officer. Some also have asked why the other big names involved in the bribery scandal were not invited by the police for prosecution except the three individuals.
Tapes were not played in court
The report on your site says I could not produce “incontrovertible evidence” to back my claims that I was bribed.
The tapes I submitted to back my account as a witness, which could have exposed more in the court as key evidence, even were never played before the ruling was pronounced. If the evidence (the tapes) was not incontrovertible, that is if the evidence was contestable, it would not have passed the Case Management Conference (CMC) stage all through to the day of the ruling.
Anybody can double-check this fact from the court and the police as to whether the tapes were played or not played. Even the accused persons can tell that the tapes, which they (the accused persons) clearly did not want anybody to listen to in court, were not played before they were acquitted and discharged from that court.
Copies of the tapes were provided to the accused persons and their lawyers. Their acquittal and discharge do not mean there is nothing on the tapes— which were not played in court. Anybody should try to ask the accused persons for copies of the tapes for the purposes of playing them on radio to the public and see if they would want the public to hear what the tapes have got to reveal. This would tell the public there is more to what is going on. In my opinion, the Circuit Court judge handled the case professionally with no prejudice against any of the parties involved in the case. The Republic lost it. It lost it through those who represented it. Nobody should blame the judge. Whilst I observed proceedings as a witness, I saw a relaxed attack against a desperate defence. I saw a relaxed prosecution on the part of the police against a desperate justification on the part of the lawyers for the accused persons. That is why the judge, at a point, roared at the unprepared-looking police prosecution team inside the courtroom: “Do you think the burden to win the case is on the witness?! This is not his case! This is your case!”
Secret visits to Justice Boon
Your report says I chose to investigate Shaanxi, leaving Cassius out. Cassius never visited His Lordship Justice Jacob Boon, the presiding judge at the High Court One in Bolgatanga, throughout my investigative monitoring. I would have exposed Cassius if it had done so. Shaanxi visited Justice Boon at the time Shaanxi and Cassius were having a case before Justice Boon. Then, Shaanxi officials together with a Minister of State at the Presidency at the time, Hon. Rockson Bukari, attempted to bribe me to hide the findings from the public after I sought to hear their side of the story before an intended publication.
After my findings had exposed the secret meetings, Justice Boon admitted Shaanxi officials visited him and he recused himself from the same case on Monday December 17, 2018. If the private meetings never took place, a senior High Court judge would not recuse himself from a case knowing what a recusal would imply. During the trial, the lawyers for the three accused persons did not deny Shaanxi visited Justice Boon. When the lawyers tried to justify the purpose of the visits, the presiding judge openly condemned the ex-parte meetings Shaanxi was said to have had with Justice Boon in strong terms as highly unacceptable. That was what I uncovered in the interest of the public and it is for that reason a desperate damage-control exercise has been initiated, with the aid of some allies who have mixed interests, to cover up what they do not want the public to know.
The report on your site also says I “attempted creating doubts on the neutrality of the Judge in the pending case”. Why would a media house deliberately want to defend rot and condone wrongdoing in the full glare of the public when Justice Boon himself, after I exposed the dark secrets, admitted Shaanxi officials visited him, recused himself and the case was remitted to another judge at the High Court Two in Bolgatanga, His Lordship Justice Asmah Akwasi Asiedu, to handle? Your site should produce proof to the public to support this allegation that I “attempted to create doubts on the neutrality” of a judge who embroiled himself in what some of his colleague judges and the Judicial Code of Ethics for Judges describe as highly unacceptable.
The report also says a committee investigating Justice Boon called me but I never showed up to produce evidence. There has been a rumour that I was called by a committee investigating Justice Boon but I failed to show up. Since your site is the first identifiable entity to come out to back that rumour, I need your site to produce evidence here for the public to see that I was, indeed, called by a committee investigating Justice Boon and your site should produce evidence that, after receiving any message through whatsoever medium from the said committee, there was a “record” that I did not show up. This would help me identify the committee and approach the same committee with a lot of questions. I need to know that committee and I will proceed from there. Please, I need your site to make all evidence public here.
I do not shy away from standing by my works. When a committee was set up by the Legal Service Board at the behest of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department to investigate a senior state attorney, Emmanuel Lawrence Otoo-Boison, after he was interdicted following the airing of an investigative documentary film I produced, dubbed “Cash for Justice”, in 2019, I appeared a couple of times before the committee together with the interdicted state’s attorney and his counsel, Edward Oppong, between January and March, this year in Accra. That committee was chaired by a well-known Supreme Court judge, His Lordship Justice Jones Dotse.
Why would I fail to show up if I was indeed invited? If there was any serious action to be taken against Justice Boon after he recused himself through my investigation, the first thing everybody expected was for him to be interdicted pending any investigation by any committee. But was he interdicted? No. The only serious thing we saw in the aftermath of the recusal was that the case was taken away from him and remitted to another judge to continue with. If there was indeed a committee of that sort, then, any claim that I was invited or I received an invite is false. I was never invited. I remember some lawyers saying that if what Justice Boon did in 2018, which led to Rockson Bukari’s resignation in 2019, had happened in some other countries, he (Justice Boon) would have been handed outright interdiction. But it did not happen.
I spotted the officials of that mining company at Justice Boon’s residence a number of times; Justice Boon admitted and recused himself. The three accused persons, whom the Republic chose to prosecute, played some roles in the bribery scandal. Hon. Rockson Bukari resigned over the role he played months after Justice Boon, whom Hon. Bukari calls his friend on one of the tapes, had recused himself. I have the bribery items which were given to me to shut me up and which the givers later told the Circuit Court through their lawyers were “gifts” meant for me. Everything is backed by the tapes which were submitted but were not played in court before the ruling. What is there to prove again?
Rockson Bukari’s resignation
Your online report says Hon. Rockson Bukari was heard on leaked audio tape begging me to tread cautiously in my reportage.
As the public is much aware, Hon. Bukari begged on the tapes for me to not expose Shaanxi and Justice Boon. He never begged me to tread cautiously in my reportage as your report wants the public to believe. The very tape is much familiar to the public; therefore, any attempt in the report on your site to deceive the public will only expose whatever your motive is all about.
If Hon. Bukari did no wrong, he would not resign as he finally did. He admitted he was “indiscreet” and resigned “as a matter of principle”. There is more to what is going on— A Mining Slave Trade.
I must say I only took the bribery items (the Gh¢5,000 which Hon. Rockson Bukari mentions on the second tape and the new motorbike) to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for evidential purposes as I intended to publish my investigation on the justice system and the attempts by Shaanxi and its partners to kill the story. The items needed safekeeping and, in my opinion at the time, the BNI office was the safest place to keep the items until the future of the matter was determined. I did the story to fight the injustices being done against the weak and the poor.
It is wrong to visit judges as an interested party against another party. There is a lot of rot in the justice system. Everybody must have equal access to justice regardless of their backgrounds and statuses. With all due courtesy, Justice Boon ‘soiled’ his own robe by welcoming the ex-parte visitors (Shaanxi) to his residence. Nobody can run away from it. The harm done to the image of the judicial system and the public trust by those ex-parte meetings was so serious he had to recuse himself and a minister had to lose his job.
I did not regret sending the bribery items to the BNI as they were in their custody for months intact. The Upper East Regional BNI Commander is actually a trustworthy figure. The matter progressed from there to the Regional Police Headquarters and from there to the Circuit Court. Then, I was called in as a witness. I am glad I am taking the items to the needy and will publish the beneficiaries so the public will know where the items are and what they are being used for. That is what Shaanxi does not want to hear. But that is what will happen as it stands now. They looked sad leaving the court premises after the ruling because I can now give the items to the needy.
They left the court premises at least with a lesson that some people, whether they are public officers or private servants and no matter how poor they are, will not condone injustice or sell their conscience and integrity against the public interest. The items did not work for the purpose they gave them to me. The items will work for the proposal I made when I exposed them and Justice Boon in the report published online on Tuesday December 18, 2018, about two years ago, with the caption “Judge recuses himself as Shaanxi officials attempt to bribe journalist”. Interested readers will find the story and the proposal at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Judge-recuses-himself-as-Shaanxi-officials-attempt-to-bribe-journalist-709835 on the net.
The motorbike will go to a needy Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compound in the same Talensi District where Shaanxi operates and the Gh¢5,000 will be used to procure furniture for deprived schools where schoolchildren sit on the floor for lack of furniture in the same district where Shaanxi has been operating for 12 years since 2008.