The Circuit Court in Bolgatanga has expressed shock at a media report saying that it has exonerated former Minister of State at the Presidency, Rockson Bukari, in a bribery-related case involving some officials of the Shaanxi Mining Company Limited.
Rockson Bukari resigned his position in April, 2019, as a Minister of State at the Presidency admitting that he was “indiscreet” and acted against principle after some investigative tapes revealed to the public his attempts to influence Edward Adeti, an investigative journalist with the EIB Network, to kill a damning story about a senior High Court judge, Justice Jacob Boon, and the Shaanxi Mining Company Limited.
The police arraigned three accused persons at the Circuit Court in Bolgatanga, presided over by His Honour Malcolm Bedzrah, in connection with the scandal. But the court acquitted and discharged the accused persons on the grounds that Adeti, who was called as a witness, was not a public officer. Rockson Bukari was not a party to the case in that court as the police did include his name on the charge sheet and did not prosecute him.
Court observers also say the court did not play tapes submitted by Adeti as evidence in court to reveal how the attempts were made to influence him with a brand-new motorbike and a cash of Gh¢5,000 to kill the story about some secret meetings officials of Shaanxi Mining Company Limited had with Justice Boon at his residence at the time the Chinese company had a case before Justice Boon.
The Ghana News Agency (GNA) published a report on Sunday that the Circuit Court in Bolgatanga had cleared Rockson Bukari. The same report was culled by some websites probably in the belief that the story was true. But when newsmen visited the Circuit Court on Monday, authorities at the court wondered “where the information came from that this court has cleared Rockson Bukari” and questioned the report as to how “he could have been exonerated when he was not a party to the case”.
The court authorities said the presiding judge, His Honour Malcolm Bedzrah, had “seen the story and has called for the BNI”. The court said it would in due time make a copy of the ruling available with the charge sheet showing the names of the three accused persons (now acquitted and discharged) who include Charles Taleog Ndanbon, Maxwell Wooma and Suwaid Abdul-Mumin only.
It would be recalled that Justice Boon admitted that the Shaanxi officials visited him and recused himself from a case under an EIB Network investigation after Adeti’s findings about the Shaanxi’s secret meetings with him (Justice Boon) were made known to him (Justice Boon) on Monday December 17, 2018.
The “fake news” credited to the GNA also says a lawyer to the Shaanxi Mining Company Limited said Adeti asked for the cash and the motorbike. But Adeti has contested the claims as another “deliberate lie” meant to cover up wrongdoing.
“The tapes that reveal how the motorbike and the cash were brought to me to kill the dark secrets between them and Justice Boon are available. Those tapes were among the tapes which were distributed to all the parties involved in the case but were not even played in court before the three accused persons whom the police and the Attorney-General’s Department handpicked for prosecution— Charles Taleog Ndanbon, Maxwell Wooma and Suwaid Abdul-Mumin— were acquitted and discharged because I, the complainant, was not a public officer and the accused persons were not public officers, either. I have got tape evidence to prove that the items were given to me to influence me. I challenge them to produce evidence that I asked for the motorbike or the Gh¢5,000 cash from them at any time. If there was no wrongdoing between Justice Boon and the Shaanxi officials, why did Justice admit wrongdoing and recuse himself? Why did they bring the cash and the motorbike to me at the time I was going to expose them? Were the tapes not made available in court?
“I believe the report credited to the GNA was deliberately meant to discredit me and to incite the public against me. I was with a doctor friend when we sighted the report on the doctor’s phone. I called my wife immediately and told her to take the children away from the house at once as the report could trigger another attack as it happened last year. Then, I called the GJA National President, Dr Affail Monney, and the CEO of the EIB Network, Bola Ray, to inform them about the development in respect of the fake news and possible attacks. The GNA quoted a lawyer for Shaanxi, one Joseph Awankpasa or what is his name, to have said I asked for the cash and the motorbike. If that is actually what he said, I will report him to the General Legal Council with the audio evidence I have. I have a tape that reveals that they gave that motorbike and the cash to me to cover up their evil move. Besides, if I indeed asked for the motorbike and the cash from them, why did I send the same motorbike and the cash to the BNI office in Bolga with the tapes?
“The GNA did not even call me in the name of fairness to hear the truth. Who in this country did not hear Rockson Bukari on the tapes urging me to kill the story and said he had taken Gh¢5,000 from the Shaanxi CEO for me? It was the same Gh¢5,000 I sent to the BNI and which eventually got to the court. The tape about the motorbike was submitted to the court. I have a copy. The same lawyer who is quoted to have told the lie also has a copy of the investigative tape about the motorbike because the prosecutor gave that tape and other tapes to him. It is beyond sad that somebody or some people in a media house deliberately would want to endanger my life and put my family in harm’s way like this. Having told the GJA headquarters already, I think I also need to draw the attention of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York to the latest happenings,” Adeti said on Monday.
Adeti added: “You can’t be sneaking to judges when you have a case before them and bring cash and vehicle to me to keep quiet because I’ve caught you there. That is injustice against the poor. They are lucky I’m not a public officer; otherwise, they could have gone to jail by now. The cash and the motorbike you brought to me will go to the needy. Shame on all those media practitioners who are supporting injustice and oppression because of greed. I hate you!”
The misleading report attributed to the GNA subjected the Circuit Court to severe public ridicule and reinforced the existing threats on the family of the journalist (Edward Adeti) whose work caused the minister to resign in 2019. Meanwhile, the report appears to have gone missing on the GNA website but a number of media outlets still have it on their sites with credit to the GNA as the source of the story.
The court in its ruling also delivered the cash and the motorbike to Adeti but the journalist has made it clear that he will donate the items towards a charitable cause saying it is against his conscience and against ethics for journalists to use items given to them to influence them to do anything dishonest or illegal. Speaking on the matter, the National Patriots against Injustice and Corruption (NAPAIC) says it is impossible for any court to exonerate Rockson Bukari.
“The three accused persons were cleared not because there was no giving of some items on their part which the journalist said were meant to influence him. They were cleared because they and the journalist are not public officers. Rockson Bukari, going by the same law, therefore cannot be cleared because in his case he was a public officer being a Minister of State at the Presidency at the time he was involved in that scandal. Based on this interpretation, if Rockson Bukari had been prosecuted, he would have gone to jail. Besides, Rockson himself resigned because he knew his misconduct was against the principle of a public officer. So, the public is asking why the police left Rockson and some other names out of the prosecution. Was it deliberate? As we just learned today, the court has rubbished the news of his exoneration as false,” said NAPAIC’s President, Bismark Z. Nauh.