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We uncovered judicial corruption similar to Anas' eight years ago - Vitus Azeem

Saturday, 03 October 2015 16:10

The Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative, Vitus Azeem, says the revelations of corruption among judges in the latest Anas Aremeyaw Anas video is no different from what it discovered in a survey eight years ago.

The three-hour edited video from a two-year painstaking investigation by Anas exposed more than 180 judicial staff, including 34 judges and some police officers, extorting money and receiving bribes in various forms to transgress justice delivery in the country's courts.

But according to Mr. Azeem, a survey conducted in the country's judiciary by his outfit in 2006, which was published in 2007, revealed similar acts of corruption among judges, which he said was condemned by the Chief Justice.

"The findings of that report are not too different from what we are seeing today in the Anas expose except that we did  not mention names; we did not show pictures" he told Kwesi Pratt Jnr Saturday afternoon on TV3's current affairs programme, Hot issues.

During the survey, he said they talked to judges, lawyers, judicial staff and litigants "and majority of them admitted that corruption in the judiciary in Ghana was real," but said those people they spoke to claimed they were not involve but their colleagues.

Mr. Azeem said some of them admitted they were tempted with material gains to influence the outcome of cases in court but "none of them actually admitted he or she taking the money but they admit 'oh I'm aware of a colleague who was influenced".

"Corruption is not from Anas' expose, it has just been that we have only been talking about perception. The good thing is that this has come to tell us that it has gone beyond perception," he said.

He cited one instance where a judge who apparently was engaged in bribery taking was transfered but unknown to the givers, they kept sending material gifts to his previous house where a new judge had also been posted.

"Every day, people were bringing various things to the house...the [new] judge himself admits it was so embarrassing [because] the house looked like a mini market," Mr. Azeem said.

Asked whether he feels vindicated by the latest revelation by Anas, he said: "We have never felt vindicated. I will just say it is a confirmation of the findings that we had because as for corruption in the judiciary people have known it, people have talked about it.

"We rather see it as an opportunity for us as a country, to take the matter seriously and deal with it so that at the end of the day, we succeed in the fight against corruption, at least in the judiciary.The judiciary is the most important place that there shouldn't be corruption at all." he said.

Mr. Azeem said the corruption in the country's judiciary is an indictment on the judiciary and a dent on the country's democracy. He said when they launched their findings in 2007, the Chief Justice promised to take steps to address the allegations.

But he said, in view of the latest revelation by Anas, it is clear that the steps taken have not been successful, adding "it's a dent on the image of our judiciary and democracy" because the judiciary is the last place people seek justice.

"There are people languishing in jail because of some unfortunate behaviour of some judge or some judicial staff," he noted.
He argued that if we had 10 journalists in the likes of Anas in Ghana, the country would make headway in fighting corruption, which he said has been thriving in the country because Ghanaians have accepted it as a  being normal.

"If we had 10 Anas' out there doing similar work, corruption in the country would have been brought to the barest minimum," Mr. Azeem argued.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah/tv3network.com