General News of Tuesday, 31 July 2001
An Accra High Court has dismissed the case in which the President’s nomination for the position of Chief justice, Mr. Justice E.K Wiredu was being challenged on grounds of eligibility. One Justice Apaloo, last week, filed a writ at the High Court, challenging Justice Wiredu’s nomination on the grounds that he was illegally appointed as a High Court Judge in 1969 contrary to the provisions of the 1969 Constitution of Ghana.
He further claimed that the Chief Justice was dismissed on charges of corruption in April 1986 but he never challenged the dismissal. Mr. Apaloo also petitioned the Speaker of Parliament claiming that the High Court registrar refused to admit the writ on the instructions of Mr. E.K. Wiredu.
The Chief Justice refuted all the allegaions after which July 30 was fixed for hearing. The case was adjourned to July 31 for a final ruling. Before the substantive case could be heard, counsel for the plantiff, Mr. David Kudoazdi sort the court’s relief to bring an action for contempt against the defendant for his alleged media commentary on the matter last week, at a time the case was still pending before the court.
In his response the judge indicated to the court that the defence counsel had filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter and therefore he would have to hear the arguments on that matter before he could go to any other application.
Presenting his argument against the courts jurisdiction, the leading counsel for the defendant Mr. J. B Quarshie Idun told the court that the plaintiff’s writ was essentially challenging the defendant’s appointment to the superior court of judicature and thereby raising questions of the constitutionality or otherwise of the defendant appointment. Mr. Quarshie Idun further argued that the matter was clearly beyond the jurisdiction of the court.
Mr. C.B.K Zwennes Snr who appeared for the Speaker of Parliament associated himself with defence counsel’s argument. Earlier the court had overruled an objection to the Speaker of Parliament’s participation in the case raised by his counsel. The court noted that the Speaker is a party because he had been served notice, especially when the action is seeking to bring an injunction on Parliament not to proceed with the vetting of Justice Wiredu.
Responding to defence counsel’s preliminary objection, counsel for plaintiff argued that the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter because the matter did not have to do with constitutional interpretation. After declining jurisdiction in his judgement the court proceeded to award cost of 8 million cedis against the plaintiff. Five million cedis will go to the defendant and three million cedis to the office of Parliament.
“Who am I to say a Superior Court Judge is not qualified to hold that position”, these were the exact words of his Lordship Justice Appau, Judge of the of the High Court, as he concluded the delivery of his judgement.
With this judgement and barring further legal action from the plaintiff His lordship Justice Wiredu is sufficiently cleared to appear before Parliament for vetting as the President’s nominee for the position of Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana.