I find the referral by His Lordship, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, the Chief Justice of Dr Dominic Ayine to the Disciplinary Council of the General Legal Council (GLC) for investigation and possible disciplinary action following his comments on the 2020 Presidential Petition Judgment during the “Judicial Review” Series organised by CDD-Ghana and KNUST Law Faculty as most unfortunate, unprecedented and must be immediately withdrawn.
I am struggling to come to terms with this unfortunate reference as a young lawyer and a youth leader of a major political party, the NDC especially when the government of Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has succeeded in silencing critical voices against the many social injustices perpetuated by his government. This has led many to a conclusive declaration of the “Culture of Silence”, first in our democratic history as a country.
In a country where all state institutions have been deliberately compromised to champion the dictates of government without due regard for the rule of law, respect for peoples’ freedom and democratic practices, one will expect the Judiciary to be the last hope in the protection of peoples’ right to free speech, constructive criticism and engagement in academic/civil discourse without any threat or intimidation.
As a young lawyer, I equally understand the ethical responsibility of all citizens especially lawyers to uphold the integrity of the court. However, that duty is not one that only demands that we praise the court and not offer criticism where one disagrees with its rulings and judgments. Even more, for academic discourse as it pertains to the platform on which Dr Ayine offered his criticism of the judgment of the court in the 2020 Presidential Election Petition, one will expect a great deal of caution and restrain on the part of the judiciary to intervene with freedoms related to academic exercises.
Our Supreme Court’s decisions have been fiercely criticised in the past especially on the 2012 Presidential Election Petition without any such referral of the known persons to the GLC for any disciplinary actions. The then Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood did not refer anyone for disciplinary investigations, and we need to commend her for recognising that the Court is not beyond criticism.
I am reliably informed that the referral of Dr Ayine to the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC is not the first time the current Chief Justice has personally referred lawyers associated with the NDC for investigation. I find this practice worrying given the fact that the Chief Justice also doubles as the Chairperson of the General Legal Council. I am at a loss as to why the Chief Justice has taken a personal interest in these kinds of referrals. We need to resentfully protest against this trend.
At this moment in our history, we do not expect any attempt by the final protector of our rights (the Judiciary) to join the agenda of silencing critical voices by this Akufo-Addo government. Let the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC not be seen as an intimidating tool at the hands of the Chief Justice to silence lawyers from criticising judicial decisions especially of the Highest Court of the land – decisions that have serious implications for our democratic governance.
We are confronted with an agitated youthful population that has been calling on the government in recent times to fix the country and all its institutions including our courts. Any attempt by anyone to stifle free speech and perpetuate the culture of silence will be met with resistance. We do not need a judiciary or any structure of it to be used to suppress the views and opinions of individuals but rather use to encourage responsible criticism and create an environment where rights are protected.
It will be in the best interest of this country for the referral of Dr Ayine to the Disciplinary Committee to be withdrawn forthwith.
These actions are setting bad precedents. We cannot wait for too long to correct them to restore the confidence of citizens in our state institutions especially the Judiciary.
Drop the investigations against Dr Ayine Now!!!!!
George Opare Addo,
National Youth Organiser, NDC,
4th June 2021.