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Parliament approves 2 Supreme Court justices

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
 Justice Barbara Frances Ackah-Yensu and Justice Samuel Kwame Adu Asiedu
Justice Barbara Frances Ackah-Yensu and Justice Samuel Kwame Adu Asiedu

Parliament has approved two nominees of the President as justices of the Supreme Court.

They are Justice Barbara Frances Ackah-Yensu and Justice Samuel Kwame Adu Asiedu, both sitting Court of Appeal judges.

This was after the House had adopted the report of the Appointments Committee which had, by consensus, recommended the approval of the two nominees as justices of the apex court.

Per the report of the committee, the nominees demonstrated dexterity in the knowledge of the law and showed character and competence.

“They pledged to interpret the law without fear or favour and eschew partisanship in their rulings,” it said.

Speaker

Announcing the approval of the two nominees on the floor of Parliament yesterday, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, said: “The President is now empowered to proceed to appoint these two as Supreme Court justices.”

According to him, the judges should have been in the Supreme Court “long, long ago”.

He said Justice Ackah-Yensu was the year mate of the current Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, both being called to the bar the same year.

“She was an excellent student and throughout she has distinguished herself as a very deep, learned professional lawyer.

“I do not know why it took that length of time for her to get to the Supreme Court,” the Speaker said.

With regard to Justice Asiedu, Mr Bagbin said he had been questioning why the nominee had been at the High Court from 2006 to 2019.

“I cannot fathom why that happened because he has been a very excellent lawyer and judge, and in fact is recognised internationally.

“An academician, he did very well at GIMPA, and the progress was so slow at the bench. I just cannot imagine it,” he added.

Capping

Commenting on capping the number of judges at the Supreme Court, Mr. Bagbin said he agreed with those who considered that the remit or jurisdiction of the apex court in the country was “so wide, large and so huge”.

“It is for a good reason that they only gave the minimum and left out the maximum for good people in government to, at any time, determine the right number.

Unfortunately, politics has entered this arena,” he said and recalled how, some years ago, the insistence on capping Supreme Court judges was 13.

Seconding the motion, which was moved by the Chairman of the Appointment Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, the Minority Leader,

Haruna Iddrisu, expressed concern over the significant number of justices appointed to the Supreme Court by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

He said Article 128 of the Constitution stipulated that the Supreme Court shall comprise of the Chief Justice and not less than nine other justices of the Supreme Court, meaning there was no sealing provided.

“It has always been my position that the country does not need more than 13 Supreme Court justices because the Chief Justice can empanel from five, expand it to nine or 13 and that should be it.

“So this Parliament must somehow find a way to limit the number of justices of the Supreme Court that the President can appoint,” he said.