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General News of Sunday, 13 January 2013

Source: myjoyonline.com

Justice Atuguba’s ‘nation breaking down’ statement is prejudicial – kweku Baako

Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Malik Kweku Baako has condemned the reported statement made by Justice William Atuguba at the Supreme Court on the country’s stability as prejudicial.

Justice Atuguba reportedly said, “This country is solid but is breaking down because principles are being chopped down… This is not good.”

“We have a strong and solid independent Judiciary in this country which must be preserved,” Mr Justice Atuguba said, in apparent response to a challenge to his being a member of the panel constituted by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, to hear the NDC’s motion for joinder to the petition challenging the declaration of President John Mahama as winner of the December 7, 2012 presidential election.

“If we perceive the Judiciary not to be independent, we will be gambling with the destiny of this country,” he remarked.

But speaking on Joy FM’s Newsfile, Saturday, Mr Baako questioned the circumstances which occasioned the seeming outburst.

“Principles are being chopped down, which principles and by who and how? This is the president of a panel and it means a lot,” he said

Mr Baako asserted: “It is a very prejudicial statement to be made by a president of a panel at the Supreme Court level. That is my view, it is prejudicial; it doesn’t help anybody. What occasioned it?”

Meanwhile, a member of the NDC legal team Nana Ato Dadzie has described the comments as “fantastic”.

He argued that those words were “some kind of a leadership statement” warning the country to be careful in order not to do things that will break the stability of this country, especially in a situation where people are dissatisfied with elections results.

But, according to Mr Baako, that argument is untenable, saying Justice Atuguba has only put himself in a situation, which has created “a certain problem” for himself.

Aside the utterances by some elements of the NPP outside the court, nothing was said in court on that day to attract such a statement.

He quoted portions of the code of conduct for judges and magistrates, Section 5 of that code, he read: “A judge must refrain from speech, gestures, or other conduct that could reasonably be perceived as evidencing bias of prejudice…a judge who manifest any bias or prejudice in a proceeding impaired the fairness of proceeding and bring the judiciary into disrepute. Facial expression and body language in addition to oral communication can give to parties or lawyers in the proceeding, juries, the media and others an appearance of judicial bias, a judge must be alert to avoid behavior that must be perceived as bias or prejudicial.”

Based on the above, Mr Baako concluded: “I am a part of the media. I am saying that this loaded fantastic stament and the body language that accompanied it, I find it the prejudicial.”

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