In a rare and brusque mode, judges in the country have kicked against the vitriolic utterances against them by the national chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. Kwabena Adjei, and stated their loyalty and confidence in the Chief Justice.
“We also pledge our unflinching support to the Hon. Chief Justice of Ghana and the Judicial Council in their effort to build a Judiciary of excellent repute,” they pledged.
Speaking through their umbrella association, the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG), they expressed resentment to any attempts to divide their ranks.
The statement, signed by Justices Joseph B. Akamba and Elizabeth Ankumah, President and Secretary respectively, served notice that “we refuse to be party to any attempt to divide our ranks in this noble institution that gives hope for our dear country.”
The executive, they explained, would come and go but the noble institution of the judiciary would remain as the bastion of hope for the future of this country.
They appear to have taken a particular exception to the “there are several ways of killing a cat” remark by Dr. Kwabena Adjei, which they found incongruous with the “better Ghana” agenda mantra of the ruling party.
“If history is a lesson to anybody, such utterances as ‘cleaning the Judiciary’ or ‘there are several ways to kill a cat’ should not come from the party that begat the government of the day which aspires to make this nation a better Ghana.”
As for the remark by the chairman about Christ’s inability to salvage the perceived bias by judges, AMJG considered it both insensitive and unfortunate “and ought not to have come from the honourable chairman.”
Continuing to fire from all cylinders, the judges spat at the chairman who they said could have availed himself of the appropriate channels instead of, as they put it, playing to the gallery.
“Judges are as much Ghanaian as anybody else; so if there are any problems regarding any member of the Bench or the Service, these could be addressed through the appropriate channels and not to play to the gallery,” they said.
Ghana, they stated, has a lot to learn from neighbouring countries about the need for circumspection and discretion in utterances which can spark commotion.
The judiciary, they stated, would not stop looking up to the good people of this country for the confidence reposed in them to do justice without fear or favour.
They found it unfortunate for the NDC chairman to level a charge of bias against the bench, when according to them, “there are several dimensions to the success of a case. Judges, by their oaths, have a duty to uphold and sustain the democracy in our country, more so when the stability and prosperity of our nation lie in the confidence the citizens, investors and all other stakeholders place in our justice system.”
The courts, they maintained, did not see cases in party colours, adding “for any criminal prosecution to succeed, the state must successfully discharge its burden of proof in order to secure a conviction.”
A lot of reforms have been initiated to improve service delivery by the bench, they pointed out, asking members of the public to provide concrete information of any malfeasance but quickly added that “the utterance at the press conference that the NDC as a party would cleanse the judiciary was most unfortunate in the light of all the strenuous efforts being put into this house-cleaning effort being championed by the Judicial Council, the Hon. Chief Justice and the various committees put in place to ensure accountability at various levels.”
The notice that the NDC would cleanse the judiciary for them smacks of a stab at the independence of the Judiciary and its ability to work above itself to ensure the continued confidence of the Ghanaian people.
“We pray and hope that we would not have cause to revisit such sentiments again. We want to assure the nation that we do not have NDC, NPP, PNC, CPP, GCPP or any other political parties on the bench,” they assured.
Turning to the ruling about which the NDC chairman instigated the party’s foot-soldiers to vent their spleen over the judges, they explained it was based on Justice Marful-Sau’s understanding of the law “and it is refreshing that the Attorney-General’s Department has stated that it is preparing to challenge that interpretation. Such a step, if embarked upon, is in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution.”
The judiciary, they stated, did not initiate the trial of accused persons but the Attorney General does, adding “a lawyer is as good as his brief and if the brief is not good, it shows in its outcome. However, a well-prepared brief that is also well-presented plus the proper deployment of quality of witnesses would show that investigations had been properly conducted.”
Judges have undergone seminars on the new law in CI 47 (High Court civil procedure rules) by which they explained that the Chief Justice could assign matters for quick disposal during public holidays and other days previously known as “non-days”, they explained.
By invoking a constitutional instrument as the Chief Justice did, she was doing something approved by Parliament and so was not acting untowardly as the party chairman sought to impress, the judges observed.
As regards the empanelling of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal to hear cases that are brought before them, they noted that it is the prerogative of the Chief Justice.
Dr. Kwabena Adjei stirred controversy when, unsatisfied with the verdict of a judge in the matter of Kwadwo Mpiani and Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby in alleged malfeasance in their management of the Ghana @50 celebrations, asked for the purging of the judiciary.
In the absence of such a purge, the NDC would embark upon the cleansing exercise and dare anybody who challenges them, he said.
By A.R. Gomda/Daily Guide