General News of Tuesday, 15 January 2013
A group loyal to opposition New Patriotic Party calling itself Militant Patriots, has called a on Justice William Atuguba to recuse himself from the panel of judges, hearing the case involving Nana Akufo-Addo and others v John Mahama and EC.
The NPP on Thursday protested Justice Atuguba’s membership on the Supreme Court panel hearing the case, and requested that the Chief Justice reconstituted it. The party later rescinded the decision to formally put in the request, in order to allow speedy trial.
However, the Militant Patriots in a statement issued on Monday, said comments made by Justice Atuguba in response to the NPP’s protest in court, have left him with no other alternative than to recuse himself from the case.
Read the full statement below:
ATUGUBA MUST RECUSE HIMSELF
We, of the Militant Patriots of Ghana (MPs) have been watching with unease the recent turn of events at the Supreme Court where a judge, Justice William Atuguba made comments which can only be described as highly reckless and prejudicial. By these comments, the said judge has left himself no other alternative than to recuse himself from the case involving Nana Akufo-Addo and others v John Mahama and EC.
We are confident that, with the benefit of hindsight, Justice William Atuguba himself will have come to the conclusion that his extra-ordinary outburst was ill-conceived, misleading and a serious error of judgement. In that vein he therefore cannot continue to serve as a judge on this matter. If he has any iota of conscience left, then he should recuse himself. The statement that “this country is solid but is breaking down because principles are being chopped down… This is not good” is in bad taste. Such definitive, conclusive and judgmental statements are normally reserved for end of trials and not at the beginning of trials. How can Justice Atuguba serve as a judge in the light of such definitive statements? We find this as a rather highly extra-ordinary turn of events.
In the view of the Militant Patriots, the comments by Justice William Atuguba have damaged public confidence in the judicial process and have especially damaged faith in anyone who wants to stand for the truth in the entire judiciary. It reinforces the notion that anyone seeking redress after being a victim of crime is just another trouble-maker in an otherwise seemingly “peaceful” country. It is as if their motivation is to unsettle the peace of the society.
This extraordinarily outburst has revealed Justice William Atuguba as a man who, in court, used the privileges of his profession to conceal the deepest truth about himself. But now this perception and psyche of his has been revealed. It is our candid opinion that in order for him to recover some of his now vey bruised reputation which is totally in tatters and especially to establish public faith in the judiciary, he should step aside. We are calling on Justice Atuguba to do the decent thing and recuse himself as one of the judges in this matter. He cannot be impartial in this matter.
Furthermore, we of the Militant Patriots are of the view that if this landmark case is truly supposed to be public, then the proceedings should be televised. The trial process is said to be open to the public. Generally, members of the public are allowed to sit in the courtroom and observe the proceedings. Our thousands of members are aware that not every one of them can go to the courtroom to view the trial. So, having the trial televised gives our massive members the opportunity to see the proceedings for themselves.
We will have no other alternative than to camp at the Supreme Court during the entire duration of the court case involving Nana Akufo-Addo et al v John Mahama and EC if there is no televised coverage of some sort. We will welcome other alterative media outlets like radio if TV cameras cannot be allowed in court. We are in a democracy where transparency is key to its success. We can recall that even in the dark days of military dictatorships, treason trials in military tribunals received massive airtime on our only national radio. By having the proceedings of this case televised, we are opening up the justice process for the world to see. With the knowledge that people are watching, all participants will be encouraged to play their parts in the most responsible manner. And should there be a breach of justice, the world will be there to see and report.
Again, we of the militant patriots will not stand aloof and see the collapse of the rule of law in our beloved country Ghana. We have faith in the judiciary and reaffirm our faith in the courts and our judges.
Militant Patriots (MPs), by this statement wants to state categorically and without any equivocation, that we will look at other options including the court of public opinion and the streets if our concerns are not redressed forthwith. Signed,
Michael Omari Wadie