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General News of Tuesday, 22 June 2021


I criticised you constructively – Dominic Ayine tells CJ

Dr Dominic Ayine, MP, Bolgatanga East Dr Dominic Ayine, MP, Bolgatanga East

Dr Dominic Ayine says he constructively criticised the Chief Justice (CJ) and the other Supreme Court Justices after reading the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court on the 2020 Election Petition.

The Bolgatanga East MP indicated that his opinion did not imperil the independence of the judiciary and did not cause any “actual or potential harm to the reputation of the individual justices” who ruled on the Election Petition.

In an 11-page response to the CJ’s letter to the General Legal Council (GLC) and Available to GhanaWeb, the former Deputy Attorney General (AG) insisted he stands by the comments he expressed during a CDD-Ghana roundtable discussion on the verdict of the 2020 Election Petition.

“With all due respect to His Lordship, the Chief Justice, I wish to state that I stand by the opinion I expressed at the said roundtable discussion. I am firmly convinced that the opinion I expressed neither imperilled the independence of the judiciary nor did it cause any actual or potential harm to the reputation of the individual justices nor did it cause any actual or potential harm to the reputation of the individual justices who sat on the case.

“On the contrary, I was engaged in constructive criticism based on my reading of the unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court in exercise of my constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. I did so in good faith, without malice or falsehood or recklessness and in furtherance of my responsibility to our country as a lawyer and an academic,” Dr Dominic Ayine’s statement reads in parts.

Dr. Ayine added the Chief Justice’s petition may set a “retrogressive precedent whereby disciplinary proceedings would be used as a tool to enforce silence from the bar in the name of shielding judges from disparaging criticism by lawyers”.

The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, in a letter to the Chairman of the GLC, requested that the Bolgatanga East lawmaker be investigated for questioning the independence of the Judiciary in a manner it adjudicated the election petition.

The letter dated May 25, stated that the Chief Justice was displeased with comments made by Dr Dominic Ayine during a discussion on Presidential Election Petitions and their impact on Africa’s Democracy, organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Ghana.

It noted aside from the CDD-Ghana event, Dr Ayine uttered similar statements to the public during the petition hearing which led to him being cited for contempt.

But the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has urged the Chief Justice to withdraw his petition to the GLC.

The party said the CJ’s petition is an attempt to “intimidate and suppress views that are at variance with his”.

Even though the Disciplinary Committee of the Council is yet to hear the petition, the NDC at a press conference addressed by its General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, on Monday, June 21, 2021, said the petition is an attack on freedom of speech.