The apex court in Ghana, the Supreme Court, has tasked the Office of the Chief Justice to investigate the actions of a judge and a court register in a case involving a deceased pastor.
The verdict, which was reported by graphic.com.gh, served as Justice Jones Dotse’s valedictory ruling (basically his last case) as he officially retires from the Bench on Thursday, June 8, 2023.
According to the report, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Jones Dotse, issued a unanimous judgement on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, stating that the case’s precedents were damaging to the judiciary’s reputation.
The court by referral, pressed on the CJ to investigate Justice Emmanuel Ankamah of the Court of Appeal, who presided over the case as a High Court in Tema, in 2022, as well as the High Court’s former registrar, Sabastian Agbo.
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“In our collective wisdom, we deem it appropriate to refer this case to the Chief Justice to cause further investigations into the conduct of the learned trial judge and Sebastian Agbo, then Registrar of the High Court, Tema under whose tenure the sordid affairs happened.
“This should cover all officers who played any role in this shameful specie of conduct,” the report said.
Justice Dotse, delivering the judgment, ruled that Justice Ankamah violated the principles of natural justice by not providing the caveators with an opportunity to be heard before dismissing the caveat.
The court determined that the case was not scheduled for a hearing, yet it was unexpectedly heard without the caveators’ knowledge, resulting in the dismissal of the caveat and the granting of the letters of administration to the interested parties.
The report further said that Justice Dotse expressed concerns about the biased behaviour of the presiding judge, given the irregular handling of the case.
Again, the court questioned why Justice Ankamah dismissed the caveat despite its significance in raising questions about the capacity of the parties who filed for the letters of administration.
The Chief Justice was referred to by the Supreme Court after granting a certiorari application that invalidated Justice Ankamah’s decision to dismiss a caveat challenging the letters of administration for the distribution of the late Rev Emmanuel Dorgbadzi’s estate properties.
A caveat is a legal document filed in court to prevent the proposed executors or administrators of a deceased person’s estate from obtaining permission to manage the estate assets.
Consequently, the Supreme Court not only nullified the Tema High Court’s decision but also prohibited Justice Ankamah and the Registrar of the High Court from any involvement in the case.
The Supreme Court also criticized the undervaluation and deceptive nature of the property values listed in the letters of administration.
For instance, the administration valued a hospital in Obuasi at GH¢60,000, a school at GH¢35,000, and the deceased’s house in Tema at GH¢30,000.
As a result, the Supreme Court referred the interested parties who filed the letters of administration and their lawyers, mentioned in the certiorari application, to the Chief Justice and advised an investigation into the apparent scheme to undervalue the deceased’s estate.
The court also requested an explanation from the counsel regarding the basis for the property valuations mentioned.
The other Justices on the panel were Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu, Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, and Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi.
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