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General News of Friday, 15 June 2007

Source: GNA

Kpegah urges new Chief Justice to unite judges

Accra June 15, GNA - Mr. Justice Francis Y. Kpegah, Acting Chief Justice on Friday handed over the Scale of Justice to Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, the first female Chief Justice of Ghana in Accra to symbolize her authority.

He urged her to endeavour to unite Justices of the Superior and Lower courts.

Mr. Justice Kpegah called for teamwork to enable the courts influence public policy through its judgements.

Handing over the mantle at the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Kpegah said his brief occupancy of seat in the judiciary opened his eyes to a lot of disappointment of a large number of staff who had complained of victimisation in various forms and reasons.

Mrs Justice Wood was appointed to succeed the late Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah, who died early this year. Mr. Justice Kpegah called for the immediate solutions to all the complaints on victimisation and discrimination and asked judges not to keep their thoughts to themselves.

"It should be possible for one judge to say in his or her judgment that he has read the judgement of another judge and that he or she disagrees on this or that issue and proceed to state his or her own views without any offence to the other colleague.

"This would only go a long way to enrich the development of the law," he said.

Hugging and offering his shoulder for the new Chief Justice to lean on, Mr. Justice Kpegah further suggested the re-introduction of the criminal assizes, which he noted, was one of the ways of combating the current crime wave.

Mr. Justice Kpegah said Mrs. Justice Wood, the 24th Chief Justice and first female Chief Justice was more qualified and experienced to appreciate the demands of her office.

He said her success would depend on how effectively and efficiently she combined her administrative role and judicial functions. "I believe with your qualities, it will not be an unattainable feat..... you have my shoulder to lean on," he added. Mr. Justice Kpegah expressed concern about the gradual surrender of Ghana's values to foreign values, adding, all those were "furiously consuming the morals of the youth, all in the name of freedom." Accepting the mantle, Mrs Justice Wood said leadership was not just about vision and strategies but having relevant persons to join as partners to bring ones dream to reality.

"My earnest prayer therefore, is that we work as a team to achieve the objectives of the judiciary."

Overwhelmed by the support shown over the past weeks, the Chief Justice said it was her prayer that "all these deeds of kindness will be translated into real and concrete work."

Touching on the current disturbing criticisms about the judiciary, Mrs Justice Wood urged all to make integrity their priority in order to redeem the image of the system.

"However big the head, it must stand on the body. I need your support and with God's guidance, I will be able to discharge my duties and responsibilities as Chief Justice of our nation."

She assured the staff that issues pertaining to their welfare, emoluments and promotion would be attended without delay. Mr. Kwame Osei Prempeh, Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General expressed government's appreciation to Mr. Justice Kpegah for holding the fort, adding that the days of the Acting Chief Justice were fruitful.

He said Mr. Justice Kpegah had laudable ideas, which needed to be passed on to the new Chief Justice.

He said government was ready to support Mrs Justice Wood in order to build a "judiciary that we can all lean on." Mr. Solomon Kwami Tetteh, President of the Ghana Bar Association congratulated the Chief Justice on her assumption of office and reminded her of the heavy task ahead.

"The seat is hot, but you can count on the bar's support and cooperation, call on us at all time and we will come," he said. In attendance were Justices of the superior and lower courts, members of the General Legal Council, members of the Judicial Council. Others were Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey former Speaker of Parliament and Dr (Nana) S.K.B. Asante, a legal expert.

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