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Opinions of Sunday, 17 May 2020

Columnist: Ivan Kyei Innocent

A beehive of misery: My perspective on Ghana's judiciary

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I have been reading some aspects of the 66 page NCA ruling by the High Court and upon reviewing the charges and the sentencing of the accused persons; what can l say as an ordinary Ghanaian knowing the law is at the bosom of the judge as he desires so does he determine the interpretation of the laws and the sad part of this is the fact that, after reading these judgements just like others, you can't criticize them much for the fear of being cited for contempt of court .. Laws have been designed to cow everyone into submission, if you dare criticise even a bad job done by a judge, you risk being thrown into jail for contempt of court.

Contempt of court to me is a trivial practice that has outlived its essence in modern jurisprudence and must be scrapped with all urgency. Modern judicial practices must be inspired by the fledgeling liberal concepts being advocated for globally. Most of the common law dictates in our laws belong to the stone age era and must be consigned to the archives.

I respect the overwhelming independence judges enjoy under our current system but I also detest the concept which makes it almost impossible for judges to be criticized for their own engagements .... that is strictly a medieval judicial concept that should be thrown to the dogs and recreate a system that will foster accountability on the part of judges by allowing citizens to express their opinion on decisions by the court ..we cannot continue to sit aloof and watch judges play toy Gods in what appears to be judicial roleplay.

All the three arms of government are supposed to be accountable to the people equally...if people can freely squeeze the executives, subject the legislature to strict scrutiny then why not the judiciary, a body armed with the powers to take away people's God-given rights? Yes .. the judiciary must be revered to protect its sanctity but never must it be treated as the sanctuary of a village god..they are humans and some even collect aponkye as bribes.

Let me explain why judges are treated with some kind of special reverence ..and confirm to you that, those reasons have now expired. Its origin stems out of an old practice in the early days of civilisation..and rose to prominence by the UK's monarchy system

In Great Britain by the virtue monarchy system, the royal families were responsible for settling disputes and equally some authorities were designated to some people to adjudicate cases and they did so upon the strict instructions and authority of either the queen or the king and to prevent a possible rebellion against such rulings, contempt was adopted to deter people from going against rulings given by either the royals or persons similar authorities were designated .. and it worked perfectly. It was a similar situation in France at the time the Roman Catholics and the monarchs were in power before the Third Estate took over through the Popular French Revolution.

This concept later became the ground pillars upon which Commonwealth countries built their court systems which sought to give enough reverence to judges who in the thoughts at the time were recognised as representatives of the queen, then countries started adopting the concept. The US sourced most of its laws from the UK so obviously they adopted this concept. In Ghana, our entire constitution is almost like "a Copy-Paste" version of the UK's constitution so you can link.

Today many countries have realised the modern argument liberals are weighing against this old practice and some have been forced to axe them especially the contempt of court aspects which in my views are not only barbaric but also defeat the modern idea of liberal democracy which allows everyone to held responsible and accountable for their actions and inactions.

We cannot continue to pretend Judges are mini-gods when there is enough evidence to give credence to the fact that some are as corrupt as Hitler and morally filthy as the devil's ex-wife, I will never forgive myself to call a judge who exchanges justice for sex and aponkye my Lord because I don't like hypocrites and it's the reason I will prefer to dine and wine with a certified devil at Hell's kitchen than to flirt with a pretending toy-God who jails other for personal and corporate grudges either by commission or omissions.

In modern Ghana, there's this dangerous phenomenon creeping in, and it's the danger of excessive partisan considerations going into the appointment of judges...currently, one party can confidently say they are solidly in control of our Judicial system.

From 2008 to date, about 19 judges appointed into Ghana's Supreme Court (in an addition and replacing fashion) shockingly only 4 of this number were appointed by the NDC while the remaining 15 were appointed under the NPP. What's interesting is that the 15 judges appointed under the Npp happened within a short trip of time .. few months to the end of Kuffour's era (2008) and 3 years into Akuffo Addo's tenure. The NDC spent 8 years but could only appoint only 4 my next article, I will delve deeper and explain to you why ...the strategy Kuffour's govt put in place making sure the NDC could not have the luxury of power to do more appointments. 5 Chief Justices have been appointed in the last 20 years and all of them were appointed Under the NPP and when you analyse the trend you will understand how it became possible, strategically crafted.

I suggest, the NDC must wake up else, the party may win elections but will never have the power to rule effectively.

How will it be like to be in power when the opposition party almost controls everything ranging from the media, the financial system, academia, civil society organisations to the police service which they are currently stockpiling trained thugs. You need to be Jesus Christ and Captain America combined to rule in such an instance.

I have done extensive research into Ghana's judicial system and the findings are revealing, I have decided to keep the details to myself for now, but what I can say is, what we have now is no judiciary, it's a gang of judicial mercenaries put together by a party to control the system... and I foresee this current trend of judicial terror continue for a very long time even if power changes, it's never going to change so soon unless the next leader decides to default the entire judicial system to its factory settings... and l mean on default settings..else doom.

Analysed this: last 10 people jailed in this country for causing financial loss to the State in the last 20 years ..out of the 10, 9 persons belonging to the NDC and 1 Mallam Issah who was PNC but was made Minister of Youth and Sports by Prez Prez Akuffo.

The NDC made an attempt to prosecute Wireko Brobbey but his prosecution hit the walls and bounced on the face of the NDC because Kuffour strategically took care of the judiciary before leaving office. At Kuffour's era, Hon. Osafo Marfo was so corrupt to the extent that at some point President Kuffour had to sack him. He was involved in so many corrupt deals including the popular MacMillan Dictionary scandal and the German Saloon Loan gaffe. .. today he's still walking freely calling himself a senior minister jumping from tv to tv telling others are corrupt.

As a realist, if any NDC supporter has any scintilla of hope that the party is going to jail any of the many corrupt appointees under this current administration when power changes ... trust me, drop your hopes because nothing of a sort is ever going to happen, kufour's exit strategy of packing the judiciary with mutual friends has been revisited by Nana Addo ... you can count the number of judges Nana Addo has hurriedly appointed into the Supreme court, the Appeals court and the High Courts within this short period,

Unless the NDC drop this " let's give it God" mantra and sanitize the judiciary first, then I don't foresee any of the corrupt appointees under Akuffo Addo going to prison and any hope which seeks to balance the number of jailed appointees as a result of the controversial provision " wilfully causing financial loss to the state" is almost impossible.

The NDC has for long focused on building Ghana while the Npp sets eyes on controlling Ghana, so the priorities are not same, NDC invests in building Schools, hospitals, roads etc, the Npp invests in people to stand for them, select key and strategic people and numb them with money, the media, civil societies, lecturers for they know, in politics it's not always about development but it's how you convince the people to believe that you are developing even if nothing is being done and to achieve that roads, hospitals etc do not have mouths to speak for themselves, therefore, they prefer to spend money among themselves and hired friends to speak to win the debate them that's politics.

...I expect the next NDC administration to learn a big lesson, learn to invest in both humans and in projects, in the end, humans will patronize the projects which make a win-win situation.

The NPP knows that the judiciary is the key to controlling any country so if you can control the judiciary even if you lose political power, they can still sit in opposition and control the nation...what's NDC plan?

Going forward, NDC requires a plan to offset this cynical agenda by the NPP else the party and its members will continue to wail in the face of numerous judicial atrocities being done to the party under the guise of rule of law.

The party is lucky for its current leadership who comes with foresight, vision and are strategic thinkers.

Ivan Kyei Innocent/