The Judicial Service Mafia
The courts are supposed to be places where people go in search of justice and fairness. On the dark recesses of injustice and inequity, the courts are supposed to turn the light of truth and freedom.
Ironically however, Tiger Eye investigations of the Ghana Judicial Service have rather beamed the light on the dark operations of a mafia within the courts.
These are the very powerful clique of staff within the judicial service who ally with some judges to perpetuate the corrupt system.
Our investigations prove that some among the clique even write judgments on all manner of cases and sign motions on behalf of registrars and judges when they realize that they cannot corrupt them.
We discovered that they were so powerful that only a few truly upright judges could resist them.
In the coming days, we will expose such characters who make mockery of the judicial process day in and out.
It must be noted that the mafia are not always successful. Their failure usually occurs where a judge or magistrate is strict and principled. For some courts that we visited, our request ‘to see the judge’ was met with an emphatic gesture of rejection by the clerks. They tell us point blank to the face that “the judge is not that type”, invariably adding they did not want any trouble. That usually left us with inward smiles – ‘Ghana is not lost to criminals’.
The Lonely Judge
In essence, most judges are lawyers, who through training and the desire to adjudicate, step up to join the bench. When they do this and take the oath in the name of God to be fair, they forfeit their social and political liberties. Theirs is a noble calling which demands a lot of personal sacrifices.
For new judges in particular, one of the sacrifices they have to endure is ‘loneliness’. It is often said that the top is a lonely spot to be and that saying rings true in their case. They cannot make friends and have to be circumspect even with old friends. When they are posted to stations that are far away from anything and anyone they know, this phenomenon takes on a harsh reality. They are indeed, terribly lonely!
Supervising High Court Judges who are supposed to supervise them are hardly able to do their job, not because they do not want to, but because they usually have many cases and other official commitments on their desks to deal with.
This is how the mafia gets the needed opening to step in. They are mainly staff of the courts. They know the system and the judges – both past and present. Thus the new judge is more relaxed when dealing with them. In time, they ‘initiate’ the ‘lonely’ judges into the mafia. They indoctrinate them to feel it is normal to receive gifts from litigants prior to, during and after the pendency of cases. They make them believe that litigants themselves do not expect justice ‘just like that.’ Slowly, like is done to a fish, they dangle the worm of corruption in front of the judge or magistrate, enticing them to take a bite.
Some fall prey to them and soon become ensconced in the mafia with time. This continues for the rest of their lives on the bench. Others refuse. Yet even when such judges try to respect their oath and adjudicate fairly, the “sharks” do everything possible to undermine them. They do so by forging their letterheads, signing and stamping documents and collecting bribes in their names, all on their blindside. The catch phrase they use is, ‘If you are a fool to refuse bribes, we (Mafia) will take it in your name’.
Though a bribe is taken without the judge’s knowledge, he still is inexorably exposed to the perception of corruption. If his judgment goes in favour of the bribe givers, they assume that the judgment was influenced by the package they had offered. In the reverse case, the bribe givers are convinced that the other party must have offered a juicier package. This is how the mafia has managed over the years to reduce justice to a package for sale to the highest bidder.
Thus insidiously, even an innocent judge’s name becomes soiled. The judge here is trapped in a situation described by Ahmed Deedat (the South African scholar of comparative religion) as: “Heads I win, tails you lose”, meaning whichever way, judges cannot escape being perceived as corrupt. If they refuse to take the bribe, the mafia would be ready to take it on their behalf and if they dare to take it themselves, it goes a long way not only to deepen the perception of corruption but also to turn it into a pulsating reality.