A corrupt or incompetent judge is a danger to the public interest and judicial administration in the country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
He has also advised that judges should exhibit that they are honest and that they possess integrity and sound knowledge of the law in the discharge of their duties.
President Akufo-Addo said this when he swore in 10 justices of the High Court at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday[July 18, 2022].
The 10, consisting of four women and six men, were selected and sworn in on the advice of the Judicial Council, given in accordance with provisions of the Constitution.
The President indicated that the situation where judges proffered judgment on the basis of decisions from the lower courts and cited them as law was unacceptable, and even less so when judges cited no authority at all for their rulings and gave orders without reasons.
“You must be learned, know your case law and ensure that your decisions and judgments are properly motivated,” he added.
He said the principle of the ancient common law doctrine of precedence had been and continued to be the time-honoured foundation for the coherent development of the law and should not be discarded.
“The dispensation of justice requires that the application of the laws of the land must occur in the hallowed words of the judicial oath you have taken, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; that is, without recourse to the political, religious or ethnic affiliations of any person before you,” he advised the judges.
He added that when a citizen, whether high or low, fell foul of the law, that person must be dealt with in accordance to the law, and that law enforcement agencies, including the new judges, must ensure that was done, explaining that “that is the true meaning of the concept of equality before the law”.
President Akufo-Addo said harnessing the power of technology to advance the rule of law was critical in the modern era to maintain the confidence of Ghanaians and shore up the nation's reputation as a country governed in accordance with the rule of law.
He said it was for that reason that he had launched the E-justice system last year, which was designed to leverage technology in the delivery of justice.
He encouraged the judges to take full advantage of the E-justice system in order to expedite the conduct of cases that came before them to enhance the management of the courts.
“The transparent and efficient delivery of justice builds confidence in the citizenry, businesses and the investor community,” he added.
The President bemoaned the lack of law court in various parts of the country, resulting in people travelling long distances to gain access, and cited the example that there was no court between Adjabeng in Accra and Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region.
To address the situation, he said, the government was constructing 100 new courts and bungalows for judges in all 16 regions of the country, and that 60 per cent of those courts and bungalows had been completed and would be inaugurated before the start of the Legal Year in October this year.
He said the remaining 40 per cent would be duly completed and inaugurated by the end of the first quarter of 2023.
President Akufo-Addo added that six new regional High Courts were being constructed in the newly created regions and that three of them would be completed and ready for inauguration before October this year, while the other three, which were at 80 per cent completion, would be ready for inauguration by the end of the first quarter of 2023.
One of the newly sworn-in judges, Mary Adei Kotei, on behalf of her colleagues, thanked the President for the honour done them by appointing them to the high office and assured him that they would be dutiful and diligent in ensuring that justice was manifestly seen to be fairly done.
“We promise to remain true to our oaths and discharge our duties with diligence,” she added.
The judges include Ebenezer Osei-Darko, Bernard Bentil, Alexander Graham and George Kwame Gyan-Kontoh.
The rest are Richard Apietu, Eric Ansah Ankomah, Cynthia Martinson, Dr (Mrs) Bridget Kafui Antonio-Apedzi and Nabeela Naeema Wahab.