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Four lawyers blacklisted over judicial corruption allegations

(MFWA/IFEX) - Four Accra-based lawyers have been hauled before the General Legal Council, the regulatory authority for the legal profession in Ghana, by the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJ) to substantiate corruption allegations they made against some judges in the country.

The four, Dr Raymond Atuguba, David Annan, Abraham Amaliba and Larry Bimi, at a recent round table discussion on the Judiciary to herald the Constitution Week of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), gave credence to several research findings which claimed the judiciary was one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. The allegations received a lot of media attention.

In a communiqué issued on 13 May 2011 and signed by the 25-member executive council, the AMJ resolved that: "until this matter has been satisfactorily resolved, Judges and Magistrates also reserve the right to recuse themselves from hearing cases in which any of these lawyers appear, since Dr. Raymond Atuguba has declared to the world at large that: 'there is nobody in the country who can convince me that judges do not take bribes'." "The same holds good for the other lawyers who hold similar views as Dr. Raymond Atuguba," the communiqué added.

Even before the council begins hearing the case, the AMJ had begun boycotting cases involving the four lawyers. The Supreme Court on 19 May refused to hear a case brought against a member of parliament in which Dr. Atuguba, who is the Executive Secretary of the Constitution Review Commission, is counsel.

However, all the four blacklisted lawyers have rejected the position of the AMJ.

In an interview with the Accra-based independent Joy FM radio station, Bimi, who is the chairman of the NCCE, said: "they are trying to cow us and we should not allow that to happen because the moment we cannot criticise our judiciary then our freedom and justice as contained in our preamble [of the 1992 Constitution] will be gone, and when these things are gone, our democracy is in danger."

Bimi said there was no justification for the AMJ to refer him and his colleagues to the General Legal Council because "we didn't mention any particular judge; we didn't mention any particular official or person," he stated.

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