President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Political colouration of Judiciary dangerous — President Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said it is dangerous to give political colouration to the judiciary.

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Historically, the President noted, there had not been political colouration of the judiciary in Ghana, largely because of the critical, controlling role of the Judicial Council, a non-partisan body, chaired by the Chief Justice, in the process of judicial appointments.

"It has been that judicial appointments are conducted essentially on the basis of professional merit and suitability.

Appointments to the lower courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal are done by the President exclusively on the advice of the Judicial Council.

In the case of appointments to the Supreme Court, because of its unique position in our judicial structure, there are the additional requirements of the consultation with the Council of State and the approval of Parliament,” he said.

“In the overwhelming number of cases of justices-designate to the Supreme Court, that approval has been given on a bi-partisan basis.

You can count on the fingers of a hand the number of justices-designate whose approval met less than unanimous consent,” he said.

Addressing the 23rd annual conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in Cape Coast yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said the new concept, as suggested by former President John Dramani Mahama, of “NPP judges” and "NDC judges” was extremely dangerous and represented the most brazen attack on the independence of the judiciary.

“Not only are these concepts of NPP and NDC judges new in our public discourse, but they are also extremely dangerous and represent the most brazen attack on the independence of the judiciary by any allegedly responsible politician of the Fourth Republic," he stated.

Political party

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yaboah Dame, clarifying how the appointment of judges was done, said for one to express the desire to appoint mainly members of his/her political party to the Judiciary, if given the mandate to govern the nation, indicated an unfamiliarity with the process of appointment of judges.

“The notion that a President can just appoint any number of judges that he desires in order to ‘neutralise’ the perceived political colouration of the Judiciary is incorrect and grossly misleading,” he said.

Mr Dame, therefore, called on lawyers to defend the legal profession against destruction by outsiders.

He said the Bar, which is an integral part of the justice system, was the glue that held society together, hence the need for lawyers to remain resolute in the defence of the judiciary at all times.

The Attorney-General questioned why lawyers turned a blind eye to the launch of unwarranted attacks on the independence of the Judiciary.

“Lawyers must fearlessly speak against tendencies which threaten the integrity of our profession.  

“Lawyers ought to be the loudest and strongest defenders of the independence, integrity and importance of the Judiciary rather than serving as tools for its destruction.

“By the silence, they have become abettors in the propagation of hate against the Judiciary,” he said in his remarks at the GBA conference in Cape Coast.

Decision

Decisions of the country’s Superior Courts, he said, were recognised throughout the world for their excellence, openness to innovation and willingness to break away from conventions where necessary, hence lawyers must, at all times, defend the Judiciary and added that “fearlessness is an age-old attribute of the good advocate”.

“For those who cannot come to terms with significant defeats in the court of law, it ought to be understood that the courts administer justice according to law.

The court is not a mercy chamber to serve justice based on sympathy or affection,” Mr Dame added. 

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