The Chief Justice Wants “EVIDENCE”
During the later part of first term of President Kufour of Ghana and all of the second term, several reports have indicted the government he led as corrupt. During the second term Mr. Kufour has always challenged people describing his government as corrupt to “provide evidence” and his popular speech about “corruption is as old as Adam”. This is all from the background that Kufuor’s administration was launched on “Zero tolerance for Corruption” slogan.
Eighteen months after the Kufour era, the issue of “Produce EVIDENCE” has come back to haunt Ghanaians again; this time in the person of the Chief Judge of the land – Justice Georgina Wood. I hear Her Lordship’s comments on JoyFM’s evening news on 29th July 2010. She said among other things that if there is a “perception” of corruption on her watch she wants people to produce evidence.
So I scratched my head and thought, wait, I have EVIDENCE. It’s not a big one but it will do – especially when you do the “trickle-down” maths.
So here is my story:
Three months ago, I was engaged to develop a course for a community around Elmina as part of an MOU for a business man sitting a hotel and other businesses in that community. The payment arrangements were that at the end of day 1 of the event 50% of the fees would be paid and on day 2 the final payment would be concluded. For some reason or the other, the organiser managed to defer the payment until now. Once he issued a dud cheque.
So I filed a civil case and the filing process including cost of serving the writ cost a total of Fifty Ghana Cedis [about 35USD]. I was issued a receipt of forty-seven Ghana Cedis [47GHC]. I considered the difference as a tip to the receptionist and cashier. When the case was called, the defendant was not present so judgement was turned in my favour ordering the defendant to pay the amount owed me and a one hundred cedis cost was awarded against him.
But that was the beginning of my second worry. I had to pay a total of fifteen Ghana cedis for the judgement to be typed and served; but the Judicial service got only five Ghana cedis [GHC5) of the 15 that I paid. Five Ghana cedis of the money went to the bailiff and another five to the person that typed the one paragraph judgement. The interesting thing is that of the GHC5 that I paid 3 of that went towards serving the judgement (called mileage); so there was no need to pay the other five to the bailiff. Should you complain, you were told that the writ will not be served and the choice was yours to make.
So, when I heard the Chief Justice say provide evidence of corruption I said to myself – well, multiply the GHC 10 that went un-receipted by the number of cases like mine around that country and that is a lot of money going to waste!
Ok, so before writing this piece I called a friend at the Judicial Service who is an Executive Member of the Staff Association of the Judicial Service. Below is some transcription of our telephone conversation:
Me: So, what is mileage?
Friend: it’s the money charged to be given to the bailiff to serve a writ or generally perform a service of the court.
Me: So why would I be asked to pay more (un-receipted) to the bailiff if I have already paid?
Friend: Well, sometimes, the bailiff may have to return to the place more than once so if you pay the extra it helps takes care of the eventuality that the bailiff had to visit more than once.
Me: Well, is the mileage fee charged not under that impression that it will be enough to do more than at least 3 trips? And even if so, the court has the responsibility as they took money from me to perform that service. So why not charge a realistic price of say GHC10 so that for the distance for which I was charged GHC3 the Service could make GHC7 if the bailiff goes once or make GHC1 if he has to go thrice?
Friend: That could be better.
Me: I think so too, then the savings could go towards better wages, equipping of the offices, refurbishing of the court rooms, hiring and training more Judges, Magistrates, etc?
Friend: Yes, you make sense. I will go and reprimand my colleagues.
Me: No, I want to send this- copies of the receipts, and a narration of what happened to the Chief Justice as she wants “EVIDENCE”. What do I do?
Friend: Address the letter to the Judicial Secretary in Accra. But if you are called to explain anything, do not call my name and if you do, I will say I do not know you.
So, Madam Chief Justice, multiply the GHC10 I paid that did not end up in the coffers of the service across the country and tell me what the sum is; until then, do not tell me about “EVIDENE” or REFORMS, and “SALARY INCREASES” and “DELAY in GOVERNMENT SUBVENTIONS” you can pay for all of these and more.
Next, I will share how the Ghana Immigration Service and some of its staff are cheating the State by under reporting on money collected on behalf of the state.