The footage has led to the suspension of 22 lower court and 12 higher court judges and magistrates who may now be facing dismissal over the scandal. A 3 hour video made from the footage under the name “Ghana in the Eyes of God; Epic of Injustice” was recently screened in the Accra International Conference Centre.
The film is the work of Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas. In it, judges are seen stuffing wads of cash in their desks and making additional requests, such as one by Judge John Ajet Nassam for a male goat.
“I must say from the word go that Anas Aremeyaw Anas is the best thing that has happened to Ghana for a very long time,” wrote Philip Kobina Baidoo Jr in an article titled “Is Anas Aremeyaw Anas A National Hero or A Liability?”
“His latest heroic sting of the judiciary has taken the country by storm, and it is making a lot of very important people extremely uncomfortable, especially those at the seat of government, because they are next in line. I am patiently keeping my fingers crossed for an explosion, which will turn out to be their Waterloo,” Baidoo wrote in Vibe Ghana.com.
Some of the indicted judges tried to block the video screening, saying it would damage Ghana’s reputation, but their petitions were turned down, giving the green light for the public viewing.
A statement signed by the Judicial Secretary, Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, said the exposé would help the judiciary’s ongoing fight against corruption within its ranks.
In the explosive video, the justices appear to bargain over cases of robbery, murder and corruption. “What if I release him (armed robbery suspect) on Fridayand I don’t see you again?” one judge was heard to say on tape.
Another judge was said to have pocketed 5000 cedis to grant bail to a murder suspect, which the law prohibits. Clips from the video can be seen via a link on Anas’ Facebook page which carries effusive praise for his work.
“You alone, are better than state-funded institutions such as the Bureau of National Investigations, the Economic and Organized Crime Office, the police, customs etc combined,” was one typical post from a Khalid Quaye Botchway. “These state institutions are lazy cocoons who themselves sabotage this beautiful country. Anas, mother Ghana shall forever be grateful to you. And God will bless you and your family.”
Barely known in the U.S., Anas has received over 14 international awards and was once hailed by President Obama for “risking his life to report the truth.” He cracked a sex trafficking ring by masquerading as a bartender. He uncovered deplorable conditions in Accra’s Psychiatric Hospital by admitting himself. He posed as a Crown Prince in order to bypass a rebel checkpoint.
“Naming, shaming and jailing. That’s my kind of journalism,” Anas says in a video where he is shown in various disguises – as a police officer, as a sheikh, as a rock. A film about Anas called Chamelon was shown this year at the Hot Docs Canadian film festival. The trailer can be seen online at the hotdocs website.