Undercover In ‘Ghana In The Eyes of God’ : AJET NASSAM
..The complex web of deep-seated corruption in the Judiciary, many more to fall
Anas Aremeyaw Anas Reports, Financial Court, Accra
He is dressed and addressed as an upright Lord,
In court, he courts reverence like God
His wig, as worn from age to age,
Depicts him as a seasoned sage,
Among court mores which have long thrived,
Once the feared good Lord has arrived,
All must rise till he is seated.
Woe, if his wrath is heated!
Wielding the power of life and death,
The judge represents God on earth.
In fact, although this may sound odd,
Men fear the judge far more than God.
Reverence is not the same for both.
The proof is how most treat the oath.
Vows in the name of the most High
Are no hitches when people lie.
So though they know God is greater,
They’d lie now and beg Him later.
This dreaded judge’s sheer presence
Devalues even God’s essence
Yet he cedes this matchless sanctity
For transient worldly vanity!
Justice Ajet Nassam- Justice Of The High Court (Hidden camera footage)
Republic v Frank Kpemli, Richard Afari, Bernard Sallah, Mohammed Sanusi
Money involved: GHc 16,000
Connection man: King Gabriel (court clerk)
Facts Of The Case
Bernard Sallah, together with three others was facing trial at the High Court for offences of stealing and conspiracy to steal among others. They were alleged to have stolen Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) bank (Ghana Commercial Bank) cheque booklets, forged the signature of the General Manager, Finance and the Deputy Managing Director who are the signatories to those cheques, and managed to cash close to GHc 1,000,000.
What our recce revealed
We decided to use this case as our point of contact though we knew not who was involved. How were we to push our agenda through? How were we to get to the judges to fathom what they do when offered money to twist the neck of justice?
At the court premises, our recce unearthed one powerful person among the clerks, King Gabriel. Although he was on leave, everybody pointed him out as the one who mattered if we really wanted to do serious business with the judges.
Even when our recce indicated his mission was urgent, he was told that if he really needed results, then it was worth waiting for King Gabriel himself. Often referred to as the doyen of the court, he was universally regarded as the most reliable intermediary between the judges and those who needed their special favors.
King Gabriel was reputed to be a shrewd and experienced negotiator who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the inner workings of the courts.
A long – serving court clerk attached to the Financial Court (2) in Accra, over the period of our investigations, we realized that he was a very strong confidant, not just of Ajet Nassam but of some other big judges too.
King Gabriel literally goes bribe hunting for judges, liaising between litigants and judges to decide how much bribes would be taken in respect of particular cases.
We took his contact details and called him, following which an initial meeting was arranged at the premises of the courts. At this meeting, a ‘kola’ (a commitment fee) of GH¢ 200 was paid to King Gabriel for starters.
Tiger’s interest was to find out whether we could buy freedom for an accused person, one Bernard Sallah, with whom we had had no prior relationship or contact whatsoever, and whether his poor cohorts in crime, who had no such powerful interveners like us, would be dumped in jail.
Face to face with King Gabriel: A doyen of the Court (Hidden camera footage)
Tiger: Boss, it doesn’t matter; let’s forget about that issue; let’s forget about that guy. What I want is just for you to talk to my Lord even if we have to see him. He should try and listen to us too and see how best my Lord can help us.
King Gabriel: Okay.
Tiger: And I hope maybe you can do something …
King Gabriel: If it had not been that you want to (kind of) do things your own way, and not want him (Bernard Sallah – the suspect) to know, I would’ve asked you to ask him when he comes to court, how he sees the relationship between the judge and me. He would tell you how I relate with the judge. The judge is my father.
Tiger: No problem, so then as a father and son, if you talk to him, I know he would listen, so I’m begging you.
King Gabriel: As things stand now, I don’t know what the judge would say, but he’s my father so I would try and see whether I can talk to him and see whether he would understand me or not. I can’t promise you now. So when I go and things go right and there’s the need to push in something, how much do you think that you can push?
Tiger: No, I don’t want to mention anything, I can’t mention.
King Gabriel: The issue is that (ehhh) right now, you see, these people (judges) are big men and if you want to go to them and ask anything right now, if I go to him and ask him, he’ll ask me and I don’t know but he may ask me “what do you think he can do?”
Tiger: He’s your father so how much?
King Gabriel: I wouldn’t know.
Tiger: You just say it.
King Gabriel: No
Tiger: But you can’t go and give him GHc 500 or 50 cedis, you’re his son; you know what the father likes and what the father doesn’t like, so that me too I would start preparing from tomorrow going.
King Gabriel: You said your name is Kwame ehhh?
Tiger: Kwame yeah.
King Gabriel: Okay, you let me find out, let me see whether I can win him to our side. Let me see whether I can win his heart when I get there, because I’m not the one who’s going to write the judgment; so if I’m able to talk to him and things go right, then fine; but if he doesn’t agree, there’s nothing I can do.
King Gabriel’s cash bid (Hidden camera footage)
Two weeks later, King Gabriel’s ostensible hard work at his grounds work paid off. After several interactions via phone, he notified Tiger that the judge, the highly respected Ajet Nassam J was demanding GH¢ 15,000 and he advised us to be prompt if we really wanted him to free Bernard Sallah. (listen to attached audio)
After several rounds of brisk negotiations, King Gabriel and Tiger settled on GH¢ 13,000 cedis for the judge. And for his consultancy and deal – brokering efforts, King Gabriel charged GH¢ 2,000.
It is worth noting that, Bernard Sallah (the accused) was yet to mount the witness box. He had failed to appear in court on a particular scheduled date and the prosecution had obtained a bench warrant from the court for his arrest. These were made known during another meeting with King Gabriel and were also captured in the records of proceedings.
King Gabriel’s Bid Report, Hard Facts (Hidden camera footage)
King Gabriel: So that is it, as for the old boy (referring to Ajet Nassam J), he was even expecting me long ago. The only thing is; because you are my brother, I know you cannot create problems for us.
King Gabriel: So I know there would not be any problem. At times some people can come and just try to put you into trouble, before you know. You can see that I’m not even rushing.
Tiger: Mmm yeah, I’ve realized that
King Gabriel: It’s not about money but how to help the person. Now the issue is a very serious one and even if there’s a punishment, then he can reduce it (mitigation of sentence), that is all we are looking for.
Tiger: That is it
King Gabriel: So I told him, he said the issue in hand is a very tangible one so he mentioned GH¢ 20,000.00. I had to plead with him before he came down to GHc15,000.00. The Gh¢ 13,000 that I am talking about I have not discussed that with him but once the money is ready…
Tiger: We just don’t want to take chances on this particular issue, we want to be double sure that everything will reach the top man; but you assured me you are going to take the money to the big man and I trust you on that …
King Gabriel went on about how nice he was towards the accused and continually reechoed how good a rapport he had with the accused persons whenever they appeared in court. He revealed also how he had in times past managed to get excuse duty for the accused when he failed to appear in court during hearings.
Dog bites dog: King Gabriel outsmarts Ajet (Hidden camera footage)
Now, it was time to go and meet the big man in his office but before that, we had to seek the counsel of King Gabriel on how to split the GH¢ 14000 that we had been able to raise. This was where King Gabriel showed his true colours.
King Gabriel: So I wanted to be sure everything is intact, then when we go to him, we close it down.
King Gabriel: He has been giving me pressure ever since I told him you were ready with the money, so he called me; let me show it to you, (King Gabriel brings out his phone to show Tiger what he’s telling him). If I don’t show you this thing, you’ll think that what I’m saying is a mere joke. So how much do you have now?
Tiger: It is GH¢ 14,000.00
King Gabriel: So how much are you going to give him now?
Tiger: So what is your suggestion?
King Gabriel: Okay, the point is that, you know what I want you to do?
King Gabriel: I’ll make sure the job is done, but what I want us to do now is, we’ll take the GH¢ 6,000.00 and I’ll give you GH¢ 500.00. You are a man so that you can also enjoy the fruit of whatever you’re doing.
King Gabriel: I’ll give him GH¢ 8,000.00 and then, that makes it GH¢ 14,000.00, so I’ll take the rest but I’ll tell him that it is GH¢ 10,000.00 you brought, but your brother is the one trying to help this guy, so when we were negotiating I mentioned GH¢ 10,000.00 and you said you can’t get GH¢ 10,000,00 but you’ll have to put in pressure so that the one doing the work can also get something.
King Gabriel: Everything is now in my hands, I’m going to push everything, even the docket and everything are with me. You know he’s on transfer from the other block to this side; I’m going to do everything and bring it here. There are little, little connections I have to do..; you understand, I must make sure the case comes before him, you understand; some people must get something small, small.
King Gabriel: So remove the GH¢ 8,000.00, we’ll give him the GH¢ 8,000.00. If you like, you take the GH¢ 10,000.00 out and give me GH¢ 2,000.00 Check figures on tape.
King Gabriel: And then we’ll give him the GH¢ 8,000.00. I will make sure everything works well; don’t worry what I’m telling you is the fact.
Tiger: Which means that I’ll not go with you to see him?
King Gabriel: Oh we’ll go, I’ll let you be in the court room, and I’ll go inside and tell him and then if he asks of you, I’ll bring you in. No problem, I can send you in, you really want to see him, isn’t it?
King Gabriel: Okay, I’ll tell him so that when we go, you can talk.
King Gabriel: But I’ll go inside and tell him that I came with you; have you understood me? I’ll make sure you see him, if you don’t see him, call the thing off, you understand what I’m talking about?
King Gabriel: I’m going with you to the court room; I’ll leave you in the court because he may want to ask me one or two things so I’ll leave you in the court room and go inside (Tiger cuts in)
Tiger: Me what I was thinking is; if you can go and tell him whatever that you’re saying now that GH¢ 8,000.00 is coming to him and then maybe you’ll return to take me and then we go.
Gabriel then went in to talk with Ajet Nassam and after that beckoned Tiger to come into his (Ajet) office. Note that Gabriel had already taken GHc 6,000.00 from Ajet’s money and had also given Tiger GHc 500.00 as promised earlier.
Inside Ajet’s ‘Forex Bureau’ Office (Hidden camera footage)
After agreeing on the modalities of payment to Ajet Nassam, it was time to go into his chambers (office in the Accra High Court) and present the money to him in person, as had been arranged by King Gabriel.
The ‘Lord’ was seated majestically in his office when we walked in. King Gabriel introduced Tiger to him as Bernard Sallah’s relative, following which we had a brief exchange of greetings. King Gabriel gave a brief about the case in question after which Ajet expressed worry about the manner in which people record private conversations and make them public.
Both men were clearly being cautious about meeting people but perhaps the money was too good to refuse. Finally, the big man pointedly demanded how much we had brought to him.
Ajet: Which one of them is Bernard Sallah?
King Gabriel: Bernard Sallah, it seems he’s the fourth accused person, he is the one that before we went on vacation …
Ajet: The one complaining of being sick?
King Gabriel: The wife came to complain that he’s feeling sick, there’s a bench warrant on him.
Ajet: As I was saying, some people would be talking talking..!
Tiger: Mmm, oh my lord, my brother here has already cautioned me a lot on that (talking) and I assured him that as for me …
Ajet: Somebody will be talking to you and then they would be recording you any moment.
Tiger: Oh, no, no!
King Gabriel: My Lord, that is one caution I gave him.
Tiger: He really cautioned me and I told him as for us, we are genuinely here to beg for our brother, so we can’t do that.
King Gabriel: My Lord, actually I have assessed him and I really believe that he’s a brother.
Ajet: Okay, but what needs to be done is, we all need to meet when the time comes. And the thing is that you go home and talk to him. When the time comes, we would sit down and then we see what we can do. Okay?
Tiger: Okay, my Lord
King Gabriel: I cautioned him a lot. In fact he has been calling me so many occasions and then during this vacation…
Ajet: What he can do is that from the 1st -7th, by the 7th of October.
King Gabriel: My Lord we resume on the 6th. 7th is a Tuesday.
Ajet: Yes, bring him on the 7th.
Ajet: Bring him here
Ajet: And then I would make the entry for him.
King Gabriel: Ahha before the real date.
Ajet: Yes! So maybe by 10 o’clock you bring him here.
Tiger: Okay, my lord!
King Gabriel: So you pass my place and I’ll bring the record book, the same record book.
Ajet: We can even use our record here.
Tiger: Okay my lord!
Ajet: But since he said ten (GH¢ 10.000.00) it should be ten!
Tiger: Yes, my Lord, we would really do that. Even if I go I would talk to my uncle and maybe he would call the wife to get me the rest of the GH¢ 2000.00.
Tiger: Okay, thank you very much, my Lord, for the kind gesture!
Ajet: Let him excuse us, King Gabriel, I want to give you something!
King Gabriel: Okay! You be at the entrance!
Tiger: Alright, thank you!
Madina Zongo Junction Drama with my Lord Ajet Nassam (Hidden camera footage)
After the first meeting during which Tiger paid GHc 8000 directly to Ajet, the respected judge kept calling and calling to demand the balance of GH¢ 2000. At last, Tiger arranged another meeting with King Gabriel to go and settle the balance.
Generous as he was, and perhaps, badly in need of the balance, Ajet decided to meet us half way to collect the money. While we headed towards his residence, he asked King Gabriel and Tiger to meet him at Zongo Junction.
To test how lower he could stoop, we decided to give him GHc 1,000. Read the drama that unfolded.
Ajet: Ahha what is it?
Tiger: In fact, my uncle spoke to my auntie and then she raised something for you my Lord.
Ajet: (realizing it was half the expected sum) Ahh why are you bringing it in bit by bit?
Tiger: It’s from the lady, you know ladies’ issues.
King Gabriel: The uncle is not having some.
Ajet: Okay! Well I believe that there would not be any…
Ajet: This big bag and you are carrying… (in jest to Tiger’s bag) hahaha….!
Tiger: Because I just have to..!
King Gabriel: Should I take it and accompany you with it?
To our shock, the honorable judge stepped out of his car with avid recklessness just to grab the money himself. This greed and lack of discretion embarrassed even Gabriel who asked him to restrain himself and let him rather go for it.
Ajet: Yes, why not!
(King Gabriel receive bribe money from tiger for Ajet)
King Gabriel: Is that all?
Tiger: Yeah, the GH¢ 1000!
King Gabriel: This one is GH¢ 1000?
Tiger: Mmm (Yes)
King Gabriel: Ahh! I’m coming.
Tiger: Okay! Thank you my lord.
After delivering the money to Ajet in his car
King Gabriel: Let’s go!
King Gabriel: This man paa hahahah, the money doesn’t reach them ooh!
Tiger: Yeah, yeah, it’s like that.
King Gabriel: I was not even expecting him in this car ooh!
King Gabriel: Because this one is the official car (Tiger cuts in)
Tiger: I see!
King Gabriel: And then normally; now that we are even on vacation he doesn’t use it much like he has been using his own car.
Tiger: So this place where does it lead to?
Another Meeting In Ajet’s House
With a big brown goat and an amount of GHc 1,000.00 being the balance of Ajet’s money for a job well done, we met Ajet in his house at….. He was very happy to take his GHc 1000.00 balance and congratulated Tiger for being kind and generous “It was when I was in Bimbilla and Yendi that people used to be generous but in Accra I haven’t seen anybody like you” Ajet said.
Ajet Nasam in another scandal
Presently, we received news that Mr. Nassam had just been reassigned to the Cocoa Affairs Court. Did he change his spots here? Unfortunately, no.
Rather, he decided to mark this new beginning with a tint of his previous lifestyle. He accepted a sum of Ghc4000.00 that was handed over to him by The Tiger Eye Team through his clerk to set some armed robbers free.
Current status of the case
Bernard Sallah is currently a free man. Ajet acquitted and discharged him while he convicted his accomplices in the GHc 1,000,000.00 theft case.
Bernard Sallah has his freedom now, but might never know (perhaps but for this publication) the story behind his acquittal; the hands that worked in open and in secret to secure his ‘unjust’ release.
On The Woyome Scandal
With the benefit of knowing his moral vulnerability, The Team decided to probe his handling of the Woyome case that generated so much controversy in the country, sparking heated debate even among members of the bar and the bench.
The focus was on the related issue of a Toyota Tundra that was supposed to have been cleared from the port under controversial circumstances. “Who paid for what and when?” – Has been a riddle wrapped in a mysterious y, inside an enigma.
In furtherance of this probe, The Tiger Eye Team sent to Ajet a questionnaire and a covering letter regarding the said vehicle. But waited as we patiently did, we received no reply. A second letter by way of reminder was went unaswered, though we know and have evidence to suggest that he had received it.
Justice Ajet Nassam has been on the bench for many years, he is highly respected not only in Ghana but also internationally. He is known around the world for his legal dexterity in handling money laundering cases.
God bless our homeland Ghana.