Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Special prosecutor and experienced Ghanaian legal brain, Martin Amidu, sparked a firestorm last week following the release of his reaction to the judgement in the Anas Aremeyaw Anas defamation case against Kennedy Agyapong.
Following the judgement, in which Justice Baah caused a stir which his description of Anas’ methods as ‘investigative terrorism’, the justice has received significant public backlash, not just from Anas and his allies but the general public
However, Amidu delivered a stunning defence of the judgement by Justice Baah, along with a brutal takedown of Anas Aremeyaw’s methods, explaining exactly why the court found issues with his case and threw it out.
Amidu’s defence of Justice Baah, despite receiving criticism, was fair, reasoned and legally sound. An experienced lawyer, Amidu grounded his piece in legal precedent, the rule of law, justice, equity and respect for our institutions.
An opinion such as that can be attacked but certainly not impeached.
Amidu’s Point-by-Point Breakdown
Famous all over Ghana for his lengthy writeups reacting to trending issues, Martin Amidu did not disappoint in his reaction to the Anas Aremeyaw Anas case.
He went through the judgment step by step, providing a legal defence of each part of the judgement and why it passes muster.
First, Amidu made clear that whilst there are portions of the judgement one might disagree with - himself included - that in no way, shape or form, empowers one to run down the judgement in the manner Anas and cohorts have done.
“While one may disagree with the judgment or aspects of the judgment of the learned trial judge in the case, no rational person learned in the law can fault the trial judge for the transparent and accountable manner he went about stating the facts, the issues, the burden of proof and other methodological procedure that enabled him to arrive at his evaluation of the evidence and the conclusions upon his appreciation and understanding of the evidence that unfolded before him at the trial,”Amidu wrote.
Following the judgement, Anas is quoted to have said: “My team of lawyers and I have carefully studied the judgement delivered by the court and we are unanimous that the judge made an overreach and descended into the arena and made a criminal pronouncement about me as if I was standing a criminal trial.”
Amidu said despite having the right of appeal, Anas chose to impugn the judgement, a move the former OSP described as a ‘scurrilous abuse of the court’.
Amidu wrote: “The right of appeal is exercisable by both parties up to the Supreme Court provided they guide against abusing the process of the court with spurious actions and appeals. But a losing party or his cohorts who impute partiality or impropriety to the judge or court commit the offence of scandalizing the trial judge, the court, and the administration of justice as an institution and are in contempt of Court whether or not the losing party subsequently files an appeal against the judgment. The decision of Supreme Court in the case of REPUBLIC v MENSA-BONSU & OTHERS, EX PARTE ATTORNEY-GENERAL [1995- 96] 1 GLR 377 governs the situation.
“...The impression that by performing his judicial functions in exercise of the judicial power guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution the trial judge had descended into the arena of conflict is an attack on the independence and impartiality of the judge and constitutes a scurrilous abuse of the court,” Amidu pointed out.
Amidu as always, quotes legal precedence to sustain his point, and little argument can be have over that. There is also something to be said for maintaining integrity in our institutions which he also mentioned.
Amidu laid out a case against multiple anti-corruption agencies in Ghana who have turned their mandate into businesses. Namechecking among others CDD-Ghana, Amidu took down reactions of such agencies to the judgement as based on their misunderstanding of the value of proper investigative journalism and not ‘investigative journalism for hire’ which they freely propagate.
“...Investigatory and prosecutorial ethics…is the foundation of constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law that upholds the dignity of the citizen from covert state and private unlicensed investigatory overreach for the preservation of the right to be presumed innocent and the right against self-incrimination,” Amidu wrote.
In essence, investigative journalism must be done the right way, with respect to the rights of every individual guaranteed under the constitution. Amidu guards against glorifying the hiring of journalists with political targets to achieve political outcomes.
It is this same warning Justice Baah gave in railing against Anas and his team plotting to entrap President Akufo-Addo and the Ivorian Premier, evidence of which Kennedy Agyapong presented in court. It is in reaction to that line of actions the judge applied the label ‘investigative terrorism’ - which whilst sensational, is essentially referring to the same concerns Amidu raised.
As Justice Baah noted, plotting to take down the sitting leaders of two sovereign nations cannot be justified by any reasons advanced by Anas. If his practice has been weaponised to such levels, it can be justifiably described as ‘investigative terrorism’.
To wit: “The President and the Prime Minister who plaintiff and his team targeted are the leaders of their nations. They embody the soul and spirit of the nations. …., A pre-emptily, unjustified attacks on their credibility, unprovoked by any credible suspicion of a specific act of corruption engaged in or about to be engaged in by them, such as drawing them into a trap so as to be caught in a contrived corruption set up…means the plaintiff through his investigative antics can cause the removal of a president, and thereby upend the mandate given to him at the elections. That is not investigative journalism. It is investigative terrorism.”
“It is an exercise of indirect political power under the cloak of journalism. The serious aspect is that political, enemies of a president who could not stand him at an election, may hire the plaintiff to entrap him to undermine his presidency. Enemies of a state can also hire him just to destroy the political hierarchy,” Justice Baah stated.
It is instructive to note in breaking down the former Special Prosecutor’s write-up to clarify he essentially gave no opinion on the judge’s interpretation of the facts presented before him, but rather clarifying that a judge has a right to make a ruling and an aggrieved party has a right of appeal.
Indeed, Amidu clearly states: “I hold no brief for his (Justice Baah’s) appreciation of the facts, the evidence and conclusions on the law. But he is empowered by the 1992 Constitution to perform his judicial functions and exercise the judicial power entrusted to him as a superior court judge. The appellate process is clearly provided for in the Constitution and laws of Ghana to ensure the rule of law and not the rule of public opinion for the attainment of raw abusive political power.”
Unless being purposefully dishonest, one cannot see Amidu’s stance as anything more than what it is - a lifelong legal professional defending the rights of the judiciary against sustained political attacks.
Amidu was right as always, and if his decades long career in the public spotlight has taught us anything - it is that he was fair and considerate in his response, as he always has been - even in the face of immense political pressure. Amidu has always been his own man and his legal brilliance has never been questioned. There is no reason to imply that has changed.
Source: Godwin Nii Armah
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