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Opinions of Friday, 12 August 2016

Columnist: Asare, Kwame Ohene

Marrietta goofed unpardonably!!

Yesterday, Mrs Marrietta Brew Oppong reportedly admonished newly appointed Judges of the Republic not to think of themselves as demi-Gods.

On the occassion of the appointment of new Judges following the mass dismissals and/or resignations arising from the large scale levels of corruption unearthed in the Judiciary by Anas Armeyaw, one would reasonably have expected the Honourable Minster of Justice to have availed herself of the opportunity to wish the new Judges a call of duty that would seek to emulate God's sense of justice, fairness, equity and honesty, even if godly, she rather used it to insinuate that the Supreme Court Judgment on the Muntie 3 was wrong.

She did not have to say so in many words. If she thinks that the concern of Ghanaians about the conduct of judges at this point in time is as to how Godly Judges believe themselves to be, then she's clearly not sufficiently mastered her brief as a Minister of Justice.

Marritta's monumental and conspicuous failure to prosecute at least one of the Montie trio is the kind of ineptitude judges must seek to eschew with every bit of their God given will & conscience. Marrietta should have urged them to develop a capacity to render judgments that are as devoid of political bias or of any improper influence as possible in the same manner expected of an Attorney General, in spite of the seemingly unfettered discretion that the Attorney General has in the prosecution of offences in the country.

As a Minister of Justice and Attorney General, she was expected to bring exceptional balance and judgment to the matter, a skill that does not easily accommodate the normal human fallibility and/or proclivities.

I would have expected some advice on how the new Judges could ensure that they walked the tight rope which is expected of Judges.

The use of that forum to play politics was palpably wrong and above all, using that to pursue her warped sense of Justice for the trio, who have been jailed for threatening to rape and kill some of the country's Supreme Court Justices is rather repugnant.

The trio clearly threatened to kill and rape judges, live on air with clips of the recordings making all the rounds on the social media. They clearly sought to influence ongoing proceedings in the Supreme Court, so that they would deliver a judgment that was favourable to the Electoral Commissioner or to the ruling NDC Government.

On an evidential basis, it passes the merits test as to whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute for the relevant threat. Can any person of reasonable fortitude convincingly pretend not to have been alarmed by the threats, let alone the intended victims of their threats?

On a Public Interest test, the case for prosecution was and remains overwhelming! Judges were killed in 1982, by none other than persons deeply involved with the PNDC Government. Interestingly, when the prosecution of the suspected mastermind, Kojo Tsikata, was recommended, the PNDC Attorney General revoked or refused to carry it out, contending that his decision was not subject to the jurisdiction of anyone.

It is rather this kind of abuse of power exercised by this NDC Attorney General as was exercised by the PNDC Attorney General in the 1980s, whether under political influence or motivated by money, is what the Judiciary ought to avoid.

That whether political power or Judicial power, all power is ephemeral and usually held in trust for the people and that power must at all times must be exercised for the good of the people and not to serve any narrow or parochial interest.