The Bolgatanga High Court Two Judge, Justice Asmah Akwasi Asiedu, has taken over a case involving two foreign mining companies operating in the Upper East region following the disqualification of the region’s most senior judge, Justice Jacob B. Boon, from the suit.
Justice Boon, the region’s Supervising High Court Judge, recused himself at once from the case on Monday December 17, 2018, after Starr News investigative findings were disclosed to him in his chambers about some secret meetings he held with some officials of the Chinese-owned Shaanxi Mining Company Limited who were standing trial before him in a case filed in August, 2018, by a rival company from Australia, Cassius Mining Company.
Before his recusal, Justice Boon had pronounced a ruling that went in favour of the Chinese company on Monday, November 26, 2018, as the court trial progressed at the Bolgatanga High Court One. Cassius had claimed Shaanxi had trespassed into its licence area and made away with tonnes of gold ore. And as the plaintiff in the case, Cassius had sought, among other reliefs, an interlocutory injunction order restraining Shaanxi (the defendant in the case) from further trespass. But the judge did not grant the request.
The Shaanxi officials also, in a determined attempt to block Starr News’ investigative findings on their ex parte meetings with the judge from being told to the public, presented a cash of Gh¢5,000 (969 U.S. dollars) and a brand-new motorbike worth about the same amount as bribe to Starr News’ Edward Adeti who spotted them four times on separate days at the judge’s Bolgatanga residence during the months-long undercover investigation. But the journalist took the bribe items along with some investigative tapes to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) as evidence and published the exposé on Tuesday December 18, 2018.
The case, following the investigative piece, was suspended for about three months, with an expectant public waiting to see who the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, might appoint to take it up. Delivering his opening remarks when the case was reopened at the Bolgatanga High Court Room Two on Friday, April 5, 2019, Justice Asiedu affirmed his commitment to handling the case as impartially as expected of a judge.
Whilst urging the court audience to stand by the truth at all times, Justice Asiedu, known for his good sense of humour and well respected for his untainted decades-long career, said he was content with what he had lawfully achieved in life and, therefore, would not welcome any ex parte visits or any form of inducement from any of the parties involved in the case referred to him.
“There is a general strong feeling that justice is back on the rails with Justice Asiedu taking over the case. The public has a lot of trust in him just as many people have so much confidence in the Bolgatanga Circuit Court Judge,” commented a court observer following the case.
Another observer quoted Justice Asiedu to have added in his opening remarks on the day the Cassius-Shaanxi case was resumed: “I’m going to tell the truth of this case just as it is. I’m too old to be interested in money. I’ve sat on one of the most stubborn cases before in the Ashanti region. I’m not afraid of anybody. Nobody should think I will follow the money to judge this case. I will judge it as it is supposed to be.”
Police Take Over Bribery Case Involving Shaanxi Officials
Meanwhile, the Cassius Mining Company has filed an appeal against the ruling pronounced by Justice Boon in favour of the Shaanxi Mining Company Limited on Monday November 17, 2018.
Shocked that Justice Boon is still at post months after Starr News exposé, an anti-graft group, the National Patriots against Injustice and Corruption (NAPAIC), is piling up pressure for Justice Boon to be interdicted without further delay and the Shaanxi officials involved in the cash-and-bike bribery scandal prosecuted.
The pressure began to mount after the BNI had referred the bribery case to the Upper East Regional Police Headquarters for prosecution. The cash and the motorbike, which the Shaanxi officials gave out in a bid to suppress the investigative report, are no longer in the BNI custody but now under police watch.
“The police will do a diligent work. After our investigation, and since a judge is concerned, we will refer the case to the Attorney-General for advice and for the necessary action to be taken. Whatever advice that is brought to us from the Office of the Attorney-General, we will implement it,” the Upper East Regional Police Commander, DCOP Osei Ampofo-Duku, told Starr News on Sunday (today).