Presidential Staffer, Dennis Miracles Aboagye, has said that the people talking about judicial independence in Ghana are overstretching the matter.
For him, it does not matter if the president nominates the justices, they can still deliver without interference.
“It is the fact that you present to court that determines the case for you. The Attorney-General under this dispensation has lost several cases in the Supreme Court, hasn’t he? The same Supreme Court has ruled severally against him,” he said on the Key Points on TV3 on Saturday, October 28.
He added “Who are the proponents of this idea that there is no independence? Justice Atuguba himself, in 1992, he stood as the candidate for the NPP before the NPP, pulled out, two years down the line, declared openly in Chaana Paga that he is no longer NPP and switched to the NDC then in 1995 he was appointed to the supreme court.
“He is the longest-serving SC judge we can recall in recent days but he was appointed by President Rawlings in 1995 as an NDC member. Is it the case that when he ruled against the NPP in 2013 it was because he was NDC, I don’t think so. It was based on the facts at play.
“I think that we are really overstretching it. No matter the alternative or the option that we use, let us throw all the options, I will always find evidence of people coming out with backgrounds.”
He was commenting on the proposal by a former Justice of the Supreme Court William Atuguba for the appointment of judges to be looked at again.
Mr Atuguba stated that appointments to the judiciary or any other governance institution must be made by thoroughly independent bodies based on nothing but merit and not on things like protocol, cronyism, ethnicity, or other improper considerations.
He said the governance institutions particularly the Judiciary must be realistically insulated against presidential and other political pressures.
Justice Atuguba recounted some of the concerns that have been raised against the judiciary.
“The current public image of the Judiciary in Ghana is reflected on Social Media,” he said while delivering a public lecture in Accra on Tuesday, October 24.
He added “In view of all this what matters most is the realistic auditing and restructuring of the Judiciary and indeed all other governmental institutions, because just as the cyanide of illegal mining galamsey has devastated our forest lands and poisoned our water bodies, so also has the cyanide of Political Corruption poisoned our Governance Institutions.
Appointments to the Judiciary or any other governance institution must be made by thoroughly independent bodies based on nothing but merit and not on things like protocol, cronysm, ethnicity, or other improper considerations.
“The governance institutions particularly the Judiciary must be realistically insulated against presidential and other political pressures. Service conditions must be reasonably attractive and security of tenure of office must be enshrined. The Executive Powers of the President and his functionaries must be drastically curtailed.
There must be real separation of parliament from the Executive branch. The emphasis should be on good and sincere governance in the interest of the people and not on hollow over exaggerated notions of electoral conferment of power on anybody or group of persons.
“But no meaningful political reforms can be reasonably expected even under a regime change without sustaining the Political Renaissance which has started and is growing well in Ghana.
“It is for this reason that I would like to acknowledge, encourage, and congratulate nationalists like Kwasi Pratt, Dr. Arthur Kennedy of the USA, Dr. Gyampoh of the University of Ghana, Prof. Bokpin of the University of Ghana, Prof Agyeman -Duah of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), recently Dr. Asare-Baah rtd, formerly of the Political Science Department, KNUST., Kwame Pianim, Dr. Nyaho-Nyaho Tamakloe, Kelvin Taylor of the USA (though he should desist from insults), Emmanuel Wilson Jnr.
The Chief Crusader Against Corruption in Ghana. I don’t know most of these people I have mentioned personally but I have followed their works on social media, and I am impressed, however I hope that they will remain nationalistic no matter the regime in power.
“I also wish to acknowledge some of the many Civil Society Organisations such as Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, Ghania Integrity Initiative, Citizen Ghana Movement, Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Parliamentary Network Africa, Penplusbytes, Media Foundation for West Africa, Send Ghana, One Ghana Movement, Centre for Democratic Development, Democracy Hub, Occupy Ghana, and Institute for Democratic Governance. I regret I cannot recall all of them but nonetheless, none of them should feel excluded.”
Below are the specific concerns he observed with the judiciary…
The current public image of the Judiciary in Ghana is reflected on Social Media. For example, GHANAIANS ARE LOSING CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDICIARY SYSTEM by Dr. Lawrence as published on ghananewsonline.com on the 16th of October, 2023. Founder of the Diaspora Progressive Movement in the (USA), Dr. Lawrence Appiah, has said that Ghanaians are losing confidence and hope in the ability of the Court to administer Justice in the country.
He accused the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government of appointing cronies to the Judiciary. In a recent interview with ghananewsonline.com.gh, Dr Lawrence claimed that President Nana Addo Danquah has deliberately appointed Judges who are in bed with him in order to skip accountability.
In a statement signed by Dr. Lawrence and circulated on social media, he said in Ghana, the Judiciary is gradually becoming a thin god, allowing them to pass some outrageous judgements. He argued that some of the judgements passed by some notable courts in the country leave much to be desired. In Ghana today, the birth certificate is not a legal document to prove that someone is a Ghanaian.
Meanwhile, the birth certificate is the base document used to prepare a Ghanaian passport which is used to travel the entire world. He emphasized that the Judiciary is packed with NPP inclined Judges because this government has carried out a deliberate policy of putting their people onto the bench to frustrate Ghanaians.
He further said, it will take a new leader like John Mahama in the next NDC administration to lead the process to repair what he describes as (badly dented image) of Ghana’s judiciary for people to win the trust in the system.
In his opinion, the deteriorated image of the Judiciary easily sparks laughter from the citizenry when one decides to go to the court for justice, adding that it is of the scariest existential threats to any democracy when citizens think their judiciary holds no value for them or no use to them, and this is the security threat that the National Security apparatus tried to draw the attention of the nation to recently but was poorly received by the president.
He added that such lawlessness in the country threatens the peace and stability of Ghana’s democracy and must be quickly corrected (because) if pragmatic measures are not taken, it will get to a stage where people will have no qualms about taking the law into their own hands because they do not have the confidence that they can get any justice in the system.
Dr. Lawrence writes: The dangers of our current judiciary
During the hearing of Hon. Gyakye Quayson’s case after the 2020 elections, the lower courts ruled that he was not supposed to go to parliament whiles his case XXX. The Supreme Court ruled the member of Assin North, Hon. Gyakye Quayson, after he was elected by his constituents, that not only should he not be able to represent his constituents, they went further to order parliament to strike his name from parliament records as if he never entered parliament.
During the recently ended limited registration exercise by the Electoral Commission, the NDC and some Civil Society Organization filed a motion at the Supreme Court to stop the EC from conducting the exercise. The Chief Justice came and set a hearing date for October 17, 2023. Meanwhile, the whole limited registration exercise ended on October 2, 2023. During the hearing of Hon. Gyakye Quayson’s case after the 2020 election.
The lower court ruled that he was not supposed to go to parliament whilst his case was ongoing. At the same time, another lower Courts hearing the case of the MP for Techiman South, ruled that the people of Techiman South need a representative in parliament, so while the case was ongoing, the MP could still represent his people. The case is now stalled in that court.
This same outrageous court agreed with the Attorney General that after |Hon. Gyakye Quayson’s had been elected the second time to parliament was to appear in court every day for hearing. The case has become inactive when the minority in parliament resolved to join their colleague in court. When the executive needs a reform, the President is changed. When the legislative needed reform, the Speaker was changed.
When the Judiciary needs a reform, the Chief Justice needs to be changed. If Nana Addo could remove the Electoral Commissioner, the Auditor General and it was good, so should John Mahama be able to remove the Chief Justice. We need serious reforms in every institution including the NPP. This is one of the reasons Ghanaians want him to be President again.
I heard for talking too much, the Paramount Chief of Dormah Traditional Council and a High Court Judge, Osagyefo Agyeman Badu II has been transferred from the Greater Accra to the Volta Region. (Ghanaians are not angry enough).
Second example is: MIKE OCQUAYE CALLS FOR APPOINTMENTS AND REMOVAL OF JUDGES as published on myjoyinline.com on the 28th of April 2022 where it was reported that Prof. Aaron Michael Ocquaye, the former Speaker of Parliament, has called for reforms in the appointments and removal of Judges as provided for in the 1992 constitution to strengthen the country’s Judicial system.
Prof. Ocquaye said the case of Justice Amoah Sekyi gave the country the lesson that where the executive was bend on removing a Judge, it was easier to do so than meets the eye. xxxx
On the appointment of Council of States Members, he suggested the need to introduce institutional representation and not allow the President to choose his advisors because the 1992 Constitution gave the President too much power in the appointment of the members. We need to adopt the recommendation of the Committee of experts which provided that ‘the Council of State shall aide and counsel the president, the Council of Ministers, Parliament and other organs of state in the performance of their functions under the constitution or under any other law (sec. 3.i))’, he said.
In pointing out all these matters, I am not oblivious of the very difficult tasks of interpreting our 1992 constitution amidst the several decisions and dicta of the Supreme Court. But it is important that there be great reflection on the core issues and principles which should be the basis for decisions of the courts instead of the lesser considerations which tend to arouse suspicions, speculations and concerns in the body politic.