General News of Monday, 15 May 2017
Supreme Court Judge and a blood relation of President Akufo-Addo, was last Friday confirmed as Ghana’s next Chief Justice.
President Akufo-Addo, ignored several dissenting opinion and told the media at a news conference at the Flagstaff House Friday, that he considers his cousin, Justice Sophia Akuffo, as the best person to lead the judiciary at this time in history.
Many including ex-Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpianim had tipped the Kpando-born Justice Jones Victor Mawulom Dotse, as the front-runner in the race for the position of the fourth most powerful person in Ghana, but Justice Akuffo, described as a dark horse, sprang a surprise.
Indeed, they were of the opinion that, appointing Justice Dotse, a known member of the NPP, who practiced in Ho in the Volta region, as a lawyer for many years, could give the NPP a new image for membership drive, as well as regional balance in state structure.
Competence and qualification aside, President Akufo-Addo, is seen as having been influenced by family ties to Justice Sophia Akuffo.
The incoming Chief Justice, President Akufo-Addo and Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, are cousins from Akropong Akuapim in the Eastern Region.
There is a tall list of family members of President in his government. They include, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Works and Housing Minister Atta Akyea, current Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo and the Minister for Roads and Highways – Kwesi Amoako Atta, Executive Secretary to the President Nana Asante Bediatuo.
The Creative Arts Council also has Gyankroma Akufo-Addo; daughter of President Akufo-Addo as Director. Wife of Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, Ingrid Nana Adjoa Hackaman, was also made a member of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC)
But on the Supreme Court appointment, the President explained that “I have known Justice Sophia Akuffo well, for over forty years…she was my first junior in practice…[and] she impressed me considerably with her hard work, her capacity for detailed research, her independence of mind and spirit, her honesty and integrity, her deep-seated respect for the rule of law.”
These qualities, the President said would be useful for the positive turn-around of the judiciary that has suffered some setbacks after some of its members were implicated in a bribery scandal recently.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, will take over from current Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood, who will be retiring on June 8, 2017, if successfully approved by Parliament.
Mrs. Wood is the first woman out of the 12 occupants of the fourth highest position in the country after the President, Vice President and Speaker of Parliament.
President Akufo-Addo, was full of praise for the outgoing CJ, describing her 10-year career as extraordinary.
“I pay warm tribute to her distinguished service to our nation, and wish her a well-earned retirement, even though her public service will not be over as her place on the Council of State awaits her,” he said.
The President is enjoined by Article 144(1) of the 1992 Constitution to appoint a replacement for the CJ position in consultation with the Council of State and with the prior approval of Parliament.
The constitutional process, will be concluded after Parliament’s Appointments Committee is done with the vetting of the nominee for subsequent approval by the plenary session.
President Akufo-Addo, will then swear her in after Parliament sends its report about the approval of the nominee.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, is one of the longest serving Supreme Court judges in the country and her approval by Parliament will make her the 13th person to occupy the enviable position.
Prior to the announcement of her nomination, other Supreme Court judges, Justices Jones Dotse and Anin Yeboah, were tipped for the position, but the ultimate responsibility rests with the President.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, was appointed to the country’s apex court 21 years ago, by former President Jerry John Rawlings on November 30, 1997.
Her sister, Betty Akuffo, ex-wife of UT Bank owner, Captain Kofi Amoabeng, had been a good friend of President Rawlings.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, has been one of the leading voices in the country on issues of human right, rule of law and child’s rights.
She had served on the continent’s judicial bodies such as the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, where she ended up as its President.
With this enviable record, President Akufo-Addo, was convinced she would be a worthy successor to Chief Justice Wood and assert the independence of the Judiciary.
“I expect discipline, fairness, integrity and the continuing modernisation of judicial activities to be the hallmarks of her tenure as Chief Justice if she is so endorsed by the constitutional bodies,” the President said.