Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI (Chief of Gomoa Afransi) has revealed, through his lawyer Alexander K. K. Abban of Porta Legis Consultancy that Mr Kwasi Afrifa of O&A Legal Consult, Kumasi, his (the chief’s) former lawyer, has a long-standing “deep-seated” aversion toward Chief Justice Anin Yeboah – who, he (Mr Afrifa), recently claimed had demanded a $5-million bribe from the chief so as to engineer a favourable outcome for him (Ogyeedom) at the courts in a case in which the traditional leader is slugging it out with Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited.
Mr Afrifa made the allegation in response to the chief’s resort to the General Legal Council to compel the Kumasi-based lawyer to refund the remainder of some $100,000 he paid him to grease the palms of some judges.
In his allegations, Mr Afrifa claimed Ogyeedom had told him that the CJ needed the money to buy some very expensive properties in Kumasi, thus, his (CJ’s) demand for the bribe.
Also, Mr Afrifa claimed the CJ had suggested to Ogyeedom to replace him (Afrifa) with a different lawyer, Mr Akoto Ampaw.
In his official response to the allegations, however, the chief’s lawyers said: “We have our client’s instructions to deny these baseless allegations as the effusions of a bitter lawyer whose deep-seated animosity against the person of the Chief Justice cannot be placated and who would seize the slightest opportunity to denigrate him”.
Adducing further evidence to buttress this particular claim, the lawyers recounted a story told them by their client about how Mr Afrifa had always expressed negative emotions and made disparaging comments at the mention of the name of the CJ, to the extent that he even masterminded a media onslaught against the chief of the judiciary service.
“Since he [Afrifa] decided not to censure the information he put in the public domain, but rather open a can of worms, our client has instructed us to recount the story of the respondent’s deep-seated animosity towards the Chief Justice: According to our client, during his encounter with the respondent as his lawyer, he realised, to his amazement, that the respondent had no regard for the person of the Chief Justice. Our client recounts with vivid recollection how he had expressed his frustration over the Chief Justice’s decision to enlarge the panel of Justices from five to seven in one of the many interlocutory applications that were filed in this case”.
“Our client avers that in his [Afrifas’s] response, the respondent advised him [Ogyeedom] to report the matter to Kevin Taylor of Loud Silence fame to run down the Chief Justice and put the offending story on the social media. Indeed, in a WhatsApp chat with our client, the respondent went ahead to send a footage of Kevin Taylor denigrating the Chief Justice and strongly suggested to him to follow a similar course of action. Thankfully, our client refused”, the lawyers noted.
“We believe that we have exhaustively responded to the respondent’s baseless allegations. In the respondent’s interest and calling as a lawyer, we repeat the call on him to refund the entire hundred thousand dollars render unqualified apologies to the Honourable Chief Justice and Mr Akoto Ampaw and control his temper next time. We end this submission believing that it would assist the General Legal Council to quickly dispose of this matter”.
Read Ogyeedom’s full response to Mr Afrifa’s allegations below:
RE: PETITION AGAINST LAWYER KWASI AFRIFA ESQ
OGYEEDOM OBRANU KWESI ATTA VI v. GHANA TELECOMMUNICATIONS LTD CML SUIT NO. JB/96/2020
We act for Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI (hereinafter referred to as our client) at whose express request, and on whose instructions we write this in reaction to the respondent’s baseless allegations dated 8th July 2021 and addressed to the secretary of the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council in answer to our client’s petition against him before the General Leg al Council. We have our client’s instructions to respond generally at the outset that the respondent’s response is a pack of untruths designed to denigrate the person of the Chief Jus tice, against whom the respondent has cultivated a deep-seated animosity, and collaterally calculated to court disaffection of the Supreme Court, particularly the Chief Justice against our client, knowing very well that the case from which the petition arose is still pending before that court. We now turn to respond directly to the specific allegations made in his response as follows:
In his response, the respondent stated that legal fees for his services was set at a million Ghana cedis (GH ¢1,000,000) out of which our client made an initial payment of three hundred thousand Ghana cedis, leaving a balance of seven hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢700,000). We have our client’s instructions to repeat in response his earlier assertion that the agreed legal fees were set at three hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢300,000) which he paid in full. It is needless to emphasise that our client engaged his services at the invitation of Lawyer Joseph Sam, who was then the substantive lawyer on record to assist him in the prosecution of the case. This was at a time when the High Court, Agona Swedru had found for him and the Court of Appeal had affirmed the decision of the High Court without the respondent’s involvement.
We are further instructed to state that the agreed fees between the substantive lawyer and our client was far below the amount of one million Ghana cedis quoted by the respondent in his letter as the fees he agreed with our client. We daresay that it would be preposterous for anyone to believe that his fees would be much higher than the fees of the substantive lawyer who had successfully prosecuted the case at the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Our client instructs us to state with emphasis that the agreed legal fee set was three hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢300,000) and nothing more, which was fully paid.
Representation at the Court of Appeal and the National House of Chiefs
In paragraph 4 of the respondent’s response, he stated categorically that he represented our client at the Court of Appeal, Cape Coast and also performed other duties for him particularly at the National House of Chiefs. We have our client’s instructions to respond that by reason of the respondent’s stay in Kumasi, he once requested him to writ e a letter to the National House of Chiefs to request for a copy of the minutes of a meeting of a standing committee which was considering a chieftaincy matter affecting the Gomoa Afransi Stool. It is important to stress that 011 110 other occasion did our client engage his services to represent him at the National House of Chiefs as alleged by him in his letter to the General Legal Council.
With regard to his allegation that he represented our client at the Court of Appeal in Cape Coast, we state on the instructions of our client that it is a palpable falsehood. Let it be known to him that we have fully perused the entire record of appeal when the matter was in that forum and have never come across the respondent’s name as having represented our client on even one single sitting or occasion. Indeed, the record shows that at the Court of Appeal, our client was mostly represented by Mr Joseph Sam with occasional presence in court of our Alexander K. K. Abban with Mr. Sam. And even for him, there was only one occasion when he appeared in the Court of Appeal alone without being in the company of Lawyer Sam.
The respondent’s assertion that our client was so impressed and satisfied with his services that he wanted to dispense with his substantive lawyer is not true, we have been instructed to say. Our client’s case is that on the recommendations of Mr. Sam, he agreed to engage the respondent’s services as an additional lawyer to assist Lawyer Sam in the prosecution of the case. This suggestion came about because Mr Abban who was rendering some assistance had become so engaged with official duties that it was almost impossible for him to render such assistance to Lawyer Sam who felt burdened to prosecute the appeal alone. Our client avers that he was also informed by Lawyer Sam that the respondent was his friend who had just resumed practice after being suspended from practice and so he probably had the time to assist in the prosecution of this case. Our client avers that until that engagement, he had never met the respondent before. It would have been unthinkable for him to suggest that the respondent should take over the case from Lawyer Sam who recommended that he should be included in the legal team. It would even be more unthinkable to suggest that he would dispense with the services of the lawyer who had successfully prosecuted the case at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Our client avers in response that he engaged the respondent to assist Lawyer Sam to prosecute the case at the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice’s alleged directive for change of lawyer and demand for USD5m bribe
In his 5th and 6th paragraphs, the respondent alleged that our client informed him that he had been taken to see the Chief Justice who had agreed to assist him to succeed in the case on condition that he dropped Lawyer Afrifa and engaged the services of Mr Akoto Ampaw in his stead. He stated in addition that our client informed him that the Chief Justice had demanded a bribe of five million United States dollars (US$5,000,000) for a successful outcome of his case. We state on the instructions of our client that he never had any such conversation with the respondent. At any rate, it is our client’s case that apart from the courtroom where he sees the Chief Justice on the bench from a distance, he has never had any personal encounter with him anywhere in his life.
We reject and condemn in no uncertain terms the respondent’s allegations which seem to suggest obliquely that Mr. Akoto Ampaw, one of the finest lawyers in the country, is in league with the Chief Justice in an unholy alliance to pervert the course of justice. In any case, without any such assistance, our client had received favourable verdicts from both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Without discounting the fact that the apex court could reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal if the justice of the matter so demands, it is unthinkable to suggest that a party who had succeeded in both the trial High Court and the Court of Appeal would be in a haste to pay a bribe to the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the said two courts below. Furthermore, given the quantum of our client ‘s claim of sixteen million dollars (US$16m), it will defy logic for the client to part with a whopping sum or chunk of (US$5rn) to the Chief Justice to improve the petitioners chances at the Supreme Court. How was he going to account to the members of his family given the the Ebusuapanyin and his elders are in court on all occasions that the case is heard? Be that as it may, we have our client’s instruction to asseverate that he has not had any such encounter with the Honourable Chief Justice.
The respondent also alleged in his letter that our client informed him that he had already paid five hundred thousand United States dollars (UD$5 00,000) to the Chief Justice and that he was hard-pressed to raise the remainder of that amount, so the respondent should refund some of the fees he had already paid to him in order that he could discharge this rather dishonourable obligation. According to the respondent, he agreed, “out of sense of dignity” to refund the entire amount of three hundred thousand Ghana cedis and bear his own cost of air travel, hotel bills and other incidental expenses. We have our client’s firm instructions to state that this part of the respondent’s story is too sweet to be true.
In the first place, our client avers that he fully bore all the expenses of the respondent’s air travel, hotel bills and other expenses any time that he travelled from Kumasi to Accra on his account. He states in further emphasis that for each visit, he paid him an amount of ten thousand Ghana cedis to cover these heads of expenses. To prove this point, our client says that on the day he paid him the legal fees, he included this recurring fee of ten thousand Ghana cedis. For this reason, he drew a cheque of three hundred and ten thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢310,000) for his benefit. He will seek to tender in evidence his bank statement showing this amount for the consideration of the General Legal Council.
Second l y, with regard to his withdrawal of the respondent’s services, he never informed him that he did so on the advice of the Chief Justice. On the contrary our client avers that he felt impelled to dispense with the respondent’s services after he had arrogantly engaged the Supreme Court in a banter which had the potential of courting disaffection for his case. This was on 27th July 2020.
In order to expose the fallacies in thought, the fabrications, the inaccuracies and the blatant untruths in the response, we have our client’s instructions to recount in a chronological order some events that took place subsequent to the engagement of the respondent by our client to provide some assistance to Lawyer Joseph Sam, the substantive counsel on record in the case, and that have a bearing on the allegation of bribery.
Our client avers that on 27th July 2020, on the instructions of our client, the respondent appeared before the Supreme Court for the hearing of an application filed at the instance of the 1st Defendant / Appellant/ Appellant/ Applicant for leave to adduce fresh evidence on appeal. We would like place on record that during this period, the substantive counsel on record was indisposed. The onus had therefore fallen on the respondent to argue the application. The respondent must recall further that on that day, he appeared in court only to realise that the 1st Defendant had filed a supplementary affidavit which had not been served on either lawyer Sam or our client. The respondent then sought leave from the Court to grant him a short adjournment to study the supplementary affidavit and, if need be, give a response thereto. Believing that the contents of the supplementary affidavit was not materially different to warrant an adjournment, the Court in its wisdom urged lawyers on both sides of the case (respondent and Mr Ace Ankomah) to argue the application. This salutary directive tripped the respondent off and, in a belligerent posture, he quickly engaged the court in a rather useless banter, compelling the court fin ally to reluctantly grant his request.
Our client avers that he quickly realised that a repetition of those unhealthy exchanges may ultimately jeopardise his case. The Justices of the Supreme Court are human beings!!! Bruised badly by the respondent’s unwholesome conduct in the courtroom, our client avers that he quickly dispensed with the respondent’s services immediately they stepped out of the court. This occurred after he had had his own doze of the bitter pill of the respondent’s arrogance. On 30th July 2020, the case was called. Lawyer Sam was still indisposed. Our client, therefore, went to the court unrepresented by counsel. Indeed, even a cursory perusal of the court record on that day would show that our client informed the Court that he had dispensed with the services of the respondent and was then in the process of procuring the services of another lawyer to assume the conduct of the case, having regard to the ill-health of Lawyer Sam at that time. In the end, the application was heard without any opposing argument by counsel on the side of our client’s case. The application was determined in favour of the 1st Defendant.
Our client avers that on 6th August 2020, he filed a petition to the Chief Justice, requesting him to recuse himself from further hearing of the matter. This is because, in his estimation, the Chief Justice had made what our client considered a prejudicial comment about the case. Our client avers that the respondent was very much aware of all these events. It is, therefore, surprising that our client would turn around to tell the respondent that he needed to pay a bribe to the very person he was requesting his recusal from the case. How was the Chief Justice going to influence the outcome of the case when he himself was being asked by the very party to recuse himself? These events clearly demonstrate that the respondent’s story is not true.
Our client avers that in October 2020, he engaged the services of Mr. Akoto Ampaw Esq. of Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co to assume the conduct of his case. In line with this instruction, Mr. Akoto Ampaw filed a notice of his appointment in the registry of the Supreme Court. Subsequent to the appointment, our client, by his new lawyers, filed an application to adduce fresh evidence on appeal. This was precipitated by the grant of a similar application by the Supreme Court to the other side of the case earlier. This application (Civil Motion JB/37/2021) was considered and determined favourably by a majority decision of the Supreme Court. Instructively, the Chief Justice, the alleged expectant recipient of the bribe, dissented!!! Indeed, he was the only dissenting voice!!! These events belie the assertion that our client was instructed by the Chief Justice to dispense with the services of the respondent and engage Mr Akoto Ampaw to create a fertile ground for the bribery plot to be executed. The dissent of the Chief Justice in the ruling of the court on the application brought by our client also tells a story contrary to the respondent’s assertion.
Our client avers that during the period of Lawyer Sam’s indisposition, the respondent employed his temporary authority as the apparent lawyer of the case to demand an amount of two hundred thousand United States dollars (US$200,000) from our client to proceed on a course of action which would ultimately inure to the benefit of our client and result in the success of the case. Our client avers that he initially declined to give the said amount, believing that it was a ploy by the Respondent to extract more money from him. Upon incessant demands over a period of about a month, our client reluctantly gave the respondent a hundred thousand United States dollars (US$100,000) in cash in or around October 2019 at the poll side of the Holiday Inn Hotel, Accra. Our client repeats with emphasis that this amount was completely different from the cheque for three hundred and ten thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢310,000) earlier drawn on his bank for the benefit of the respondent. We have initiated discussions with the management of Holiday Inn Hotel to make available the CCTV footage to show that the day he received the hundred thousand “ways and means” money was different from the day the respondent deposited the cheque in his account. We state on behalf of our client that the respondent had received the cheque and paid it into his account before the cash in the dollar currency was given to him.
The respondent has stated that he and our client aggregated or converted the amount of three hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢300,000) paid to him as legal fees and agreed that it was the equivalent of fifty thousand United States dollars. We dare ask: if, indeed, the respondent was refunding the said amount, why would he trouble himself to refund it in dollars when our client gave him cedis? Couldn’t our client get his money in cedis, the original currency, and go to the forex market to change same? Why would the respondent assume such a burden?
He also said that he converted three hundred thousand Ghana cedis into dollars which came up to fifty thousand dollars. This was in July 2019. We note with conviction that at that time the rate of the local currency to the United States dollars was not six to one (6 to 1). To all intents and purposes, the refund he made was a return of part of the hundred thousand dollars he wrongfully received from our client for “ways and means” which our client understood was payment to ensure that justice is not denied him in his case. The respondent never converted any cedis to dollars. Indeed, our client insists that he gave the respondent that amount in dollars. That will be the only plausible explanation why the respondent was ready to refund the money in dollars.
Our client admits receiving a total amount of forty thousand dollars from the respondent in part refund. He however denies that it is a refund of the three hundred thousand Ghana cedis paid to the respondent as legal fees. He insists that it is only a refund of a portion of the hundred thousand United States dollars paid to him for the “ways and means” expedition. Our client has never made a demand for the refund of the three hundred thousand Ghana cedis!!! It was the respondent’s legal fees, not meant to be refunded.
Alleged Investigations on the Chief Justice’s desire to acquire property
In paragraph 13 of his response, the respondent alleged that our client informed him that he had caused operatives of the National Investigations Bureau (NIB) to conduct investigations on the Chief Justice and had returned a finding to him that the Chief Justice was desirous of acquiring properties at certain plush residential areas of Kumasi and, therefore, needed the money to finance the realisation of that desire. In the first place, our client is not an employee or a member of any of the security agencies of the country including the NIB. He has no authority to cause any such investigations. Assuming without admitting the veracity of this spurious allegation, we are wondering how the said investigations were carried out. No such representations were ever made by our client.
We have our client’s instructions to deny these baseless allegations as the effusions of a bitter lawyer whose deep-seated animosity against the person of the Chief Justice cannot be placated and who would seize the slightest opportunity to denigrate him. Our client has cause to believe that the respondent is also actuated by malice to cause disaffection against our client and jeopardise his case in the process.
Conduct of the lawyer
We note with clear appreciation the respondent’s fantastic description of our client. By respondent’s measure, our client is not a minnow; neither is he a novice in matters of litigation and the goings on in the courts. We would like to proceed on the assumption, but certainly not the admission that our client is not as naïve as he portrayed in petition to the General Legal Council. Let us also assume that it was our client who initiated the discussion and the move to pay a bribe to the Chief Justice. Regardless of all the assumptions, we submit that by his training, the respondent was under greater responsibility and duty to protect the sanctity of the justice delivery system of the country. By his own showing, he collected the ‘money, regardless of the amount, for the purposes of influencing the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court. At least, he conveyed such impression on our client.
We note with disappointment that the respondent could not censure his thoughts and information that he could churn out in such circumstances. Even if it is assumed, which is not admitted, that our client informed the respondent that he had caused to be conducted an investigation into the alleged desire of the Chief Justice to acquire some properties in plush areas in Kumasi, the respondent should have known, by his learning, that our client had no such power, and that any such representations, if made at all, were at best, mere puff of a bragging client.
We also observe with deep disappointment that in his answer, the respondent chose to go to town on almost anything and everything that our client may have told him during the period that the two of them were bound by lawyer-client privileges. The real issue here is whether or not the respondent had received money from our client for such an unholy assignment. The petition to the General Legal Council was simply for the respondent to pay the amount of money he had received on the pretext that he was going to soften the grounds for our client’s case to receive favourable consideration by the honourable court. Indeed, throughout his case from its inception, the respondent stood out as the only lawyer to have requested for money to do “ways and means ” in the matter and although the client found it very strange, he did not want his case to be jeopardised by his refusal to pay the said $100,000. He was constrained in the circumstances to reluctantly give the respondent the requested amount.
It is our humble submission that by his training and learning the respondent should have dissuaded our client from any such filthy thoughts of bribing a judge and perverting the course of justice but he failed in that duty and rather goaded him into believing that he could pay his way through. In the alternative the respondent could have withdrawn his representation and report our client’s conduct to the police, the leadership of the Bar or to the Chief Justice.
In his anger, he threw caution to the wind and decided not to censure the information he could churn out in a situation like this. In the process, the respondent has succeeded in denigrating the good names of Mr. Akoto Ampaw and the Honourable Chief Justice. His decision to put the petition and his response in the public domain serves him no good. This is because, as a lawyer, he definitely must have been aware of the consequences the fabrications and lies he has peddled against an innocent seasoned lawyer as well at the head of the judicial arm of State.
Furthermore, since he decided not to censure the information he put in the public domain, but rather open a can of worms, our client has instructed us to recount the story of the respondent’s deep-seated animosity towards the Chief Justice. According to our client, during his encounter with the respondent as his lawyer, he realized, to his amazement, that the respondent had no regard for the person of the Chief Justice. Our client recounts with vivid recollection how he had expressed his frustration over the Chief Justice’s decision to enlarge the panel of Justices from five to seven in one of the many interlocutory applications that were filed in this case.
Our client avers that in his response, the respondent advised him to report the matter to Kevin Taylor of Loud Silence fame to run down the Chief Justice and put the offending story on the social media. Indeed, in a WhatsApp chat with our client, the respondent went ahead to send a footage of Kevin Taylor denigrating the Chief Justice and strongly suggested to him to follow a similar course of action. Thankfully, our client refused.
We believe that we have exhaustively responded to the respondent’s baseless allegations. In the respondent’s interest and calling as a lawyer, we repeat the call on him to refund the entire hundred thousand dollars render unqualified apologies to the Honourable Chief Justice and Mr Akoto Ampaw and control his temper next time.
We end this submission believing that it would assist the General Legal Council to quickly dispose of this matter.
Alexander K. K. Abban, Esq.
Porta Legis Consultancy.
cc. Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI (Chief of Gomoa Afransi)
Kwasi Afrifa, Esq. (O&A Legal Consult, Kumasi)