Feature Article of Friday, 25 May 2012
Columnist: Tamakloe, Kojo
The Justice system in Ghana has always had a certain amount of controversy surrounding it . My experience in the UK was quite different as one scarcely had cause to complain about judicial rulings. In the USA one hears a lot about Supreme Court Justices who may be conservative or liberal. Their rulings are therefore said to be subject to the type of party affiliation. To my mind that defeats the whole purpose and process of justice and dispute adjudication as this is supposed to be IMPARTIAL and based on the facts ONLY. The Judiciary is also expected to be the third arm of government ensuring good governance by protecting and interpreting the constitution, the highest law of the land . The supreme Court is not the legislature so it is NOT expected to make laws .
My recollections of the treason trials in Nkrumah’s days and the acquittal of the accused led to the dismissal of the Judges . It was found to be a miscarriage of Justice. That was the first time the Judiciary was accused of being involved in politics. We know of the 3 judges who were killed in mysterious circumstances under Rawlings watch. Before that, under Kofi Busia ,was the case of Apollo 568 when Busia swore “ No court, No court’ . But what amazed me was a simple case of a school teacher who administered punishment by two strokes of a light cane. This was a common practice as I remember my teachers saying “ go to my office, go to my office” and you were sure of “ 6 of the best”. This teacher was charged with murder and so the chief and all, had the man incarcerated. The judge concurred .It turned out the girl died of a hole in the heart. I remember forumners also baying for his blood when they did not have all the facts. But I do not expect the learned Justices to behave like forumners
Then came the Woyome saga. The amount involved is large and so far we all say there is a cover up. It has so far seen many postponements. It involved a contract Plavi, the expelled Ghana coach wanted a million dollars termination pay out as a result of breach of contract. Yesterday we read about Jake Obetsebi lamptey winning a case in the Supreme Court to buy a state house he resided in as a government Minister but NOW allocated to another Minister of State. The question is , how can this be .? What are the implications ? Anyone from now on who occupies a State property is at liberty to purchase it , should he or she so desires . So all the NYEP and new young graduates coming out and being sent out to serve under privileged communities will need to go and fend for themselves . The very magistrates and police and armed forces personnel who are ever on the move will need to stay in unprotected communities and makes nonsense of building quarters for these personnel. What of our volunteers like the Peace Corps ,who come in to help our country? As Lord Denning ,an imminent British jurist said , in any judgment , you must look at the intention of the law”. What is the intention of our State Housing?
Contracts have certain elements ,named, conditions that should be met to make them valid . In this case it is contract of sale, in Real Estate .Part of this is that there must be a WILLING seller and a buyer . Both should be of the same mind ( ad idem).The State in this case is the seller and we have Jake(buyer) saying I paid for it and the State does not know about it. The same was the case with the site of the International House , a Land mark building for many years. How can you say you have a willing seller and the parties are of the same mind, when one party does not know about it? ? Contracts can be void if found to be illegal or vitiated with fraud. Now for me, for a Minister of State and an influential party official buying a property at a marked down price represents fraud. Again the contract can also be said to be voidable under certain circumstances and the contract abrogated . Again this is a clear cut case where the contract can be voided. I believe this is what the Supreme Court Justices should have done . They should be protecting the State and its property. What is the market price of the property? How can the seller be said to be willing when it is still using the property or where as in the case of the International House the said seller had started putting the site to another use? Where are the contracts in all these cases as these by law , should be in writing else they are void. What contracts did the defendants put in front of these Justices?
Justices are human and so can be influenced. In certain cases they have old school mates , or relations or neighbors involved. In other cases they may even be of the same lodges or party affiliates. They should be bold as to recluse themselves . There is an urgent need to clean up the justice system. I do not want to cast aspersions on our learned Justices . But the time has come to ask if their judgments that are a mockery of justice may not be because of senility, ignorance of the law of basic contracts , bias or cronyism.
Let Justice Reign, so that when verdicts are read out all can see that justice has been done and seen to have been done .This is the foundation and bedrock of peace ,FAIRNESS . ‘ I do not want no peace, I want equal rights and justice” LET JUSTICE REIGN
The writer Kojo Tamakloe is an Nkrumaist and a pan Africanist who believes African Unity is the solution to Africa’s poverty