The Talensi Traditional Council has denied that its president, Tongraan Kugbilsong Nanlebetang’s invitation to the Acting Upper East Regional Supervising High Court Judge, Justice Alexander Graham, was an attempt to compromise the judge.
In a press statement, the Council said the invitation was extended to Justice Graham “in good faith and not intended to subvert the course of justice in any manner”.
The High Court Judge, on Friday, March 10, 2023, convicted two men who had been sent by the Paramount Chief of Talensi and a member of the Council of State to invite him over to his palace for a discussion regarding some mining-related cases pending before him.
Richard Sunday Yinbil, Secretary to the Paramount Chief; and Naab Nyakora Mantii, a divisional chief for Baare; had told the judge behind closed doors that the discussion was to help him understand the cases he was presiding over.
But infuriated by their mission for visiting him in his chambers, Justice Alexander Graham caused their arrest and subsequently dragged them before the Bolgatanga High Court 2 in handcuffs.
Justice Graham said the action of the two men was an attempt to compromise him and, therefore, charged them with contempt of court.
He noted that he had, on several occasions, issued warnings against attempts to circumvent the judicial processes as it had become a common practice in the region for parties of cases pending before the court to seek to influence presiding judges by visiting them privately.
Mr. Yinbil and Naab Nyakora pleaded guilty when the charges were read to them.
But the judge demanded that the two produce the Tongraan in court before their convictions. A number of lawyers, who were present at the time waiting for their cases to be called, intervened and pleaded on behalf of the two accused persons.
The judge then proceeded to convict them on their own plea and ordered that they sign a bond to be of good behaviour for six months.
But justifying the action of the Council of State member, the Talensi Traditional Council described the conviction of the two as unfortunate and surprising.
The council contended that the court, particularly Justice Graham and one other judge, had, on a number of occasions, referred land litigation cases from the Talensi and other areas to it and its president for resolution.
It said it was on the basis of “such collaboration” between the court and the Traditional Council in dispute resolution that the Council and its president extended the invitation to the judge in a bid to settle numerous land dispute cases from the area currently before him, which it said had “culminated in clashes leading to injuries to persons and damage to property”.
“In the light of these earlier cases, which were referred to the Tongraana, it was the respectful view of the Council that no serious problem will arise,” the statement said. “This well-intended gesture on the part of the Tongraana surprisingly did not sit well with His Lordship, Alexander Graham”.
While acknowledging the decision of the court not to fine or slap the convicts with custodial sentence as merciful, the statement said “the Council will be the last entity to circumvent that tradition and legal practice for which reason the two members of the Council were charged and convicted for contempt of court”.
Meanwhile, the judge has reportedly fled the region after his Bolgatanga residence was attacked by unknown assailants.
The assailants allegedly besieged his residence on Wednesday night, five days after his decision, pelting stones at the house.
It took the invention of state security personnel to ward them off and safeguard the life of the judge until the next morning when he was flown to Accra at the instance of the Chief Justice.
Anti-graft group based in Bolgatanga, National Patriots Against Injustice and Corruption (NAPAIC), Ghana has condemned the alleged attack and called on the Chief Justice to ensure adequate security for the judge to enable him to go about his constitutionally mandated duties in the region.
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