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Opinions of Thursday, 31 March 2016

Columnist: Lawyer Nkrabeah Effah Dartey

Oh God, keep 'My Lord' safe

When I was Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Interior, I attended an official function at Ho, Volta Region. After the programme we all retired to the Residency and I was seated next to the Regional Minister, Hon Kofi Dzamesi.

I noticed that within five minutes Honourable had finished eating, and I asked him why eat so fast? Why, Honourable, were you so hungry?

His reply taught me a major lesson: “Captain, as a politician you must always eat very fast before any negative message comes to disturb you”.

Poor me. I forgot this lesson on Maundy Thursday 24th March 2016. From the Court premises I walked with a colleague to a nearby eatery and ordered lunch. They brought the food and I was busily explaining what a terrible loss the death of Jake Obetsebi Lamptey would have on my party – the NPP when my mobile rang.

Without bothering to check who was calling, I just belled out “yeah, Captain on the line” and then came the bombshell: “Captain, your friend, Justice Adwoa Coleman is dead!!!!!!!!!

Reader, I could not eat the food.

You see, in this world, who does not know that every human being will die one day – both young and old alike. But, some people are so full of life, they are so much associated with our daily lives that we never think that they too, like all of us, will die one day.

Such was Her Lordship Mrs Justice Adwoa Coleman, Justice of the High Court, Cape Coast to me: she was a friend, nay, a sister, a learned friend, a judge and very close to me.

And you know, I got to know her on the job. One day I appeared before her sitting at Circuit Court 2 and after Court rise, she called me to the chambers and told me that when she was appointed a Magistrate during the orientation course I was then Deputy Minister of Interior and I came to address them.

From that day we became good friends, and at times I will just walk to her chambers to say “My Lord I come just to greet you” then she will say “Captain sit down, sit down, take water, how are you?” .

But there was one thing I noticed about her which I found quite interesting almost similar to all Judges on the bench. Inside her chambers, Adwoa Coleman is a very charming humane person, sharing jokes, smiling, telling me about her problems, but once in the Courtroom, it is a completely different ball game – she behaves as if she does not know me from Adam. I was never comfortable in her Court, always nervous, because she was so unpredictable.

It was from her Court that I got the principle that all law is forty per cent statute and sixty per cent discretionary. The law is there, basic, but it is in the bossom of the Judge!!’!

When she was transferred to Cape Coast High Court, I thought that would end our goodwill due to “out of sight” but it didn’t. Instead, our friendship blossomed. She told me she grew up in Cape Coast, her mother lives there, so she is very much at home.

Anytime I went to Cape Coast High Court I would go to her Court, sitting in chambers, poke my face and say “My Lord good morning” and she would excuse both Counsel and litigants and exchange a few pleasantries, with me. Oh God – Justice Coleman!!!!!!!!!!!

I remember one day after Court we had a long chat in her chambers, talking about everything from alpha to zoology. She told me how she worked in the Judicial Service at Fiapre near Sunyani, and so she knows my home base Berekum and Jinjini very well.

Since her husband is a doctor I asked her how she relates with him, as a professional, and she said, normal, except that at times when she gets up at night to write judgments then it is irritating, but he understands.

I just cannot believe that Adwoa Coleman is gone – oh my God. I was doing two very controversial cases before her in Cape Coast High Court, and they kept adjourning the cases citing sickness of the Judge, not knowing she was on her way home. Just last week 18th March 2016, I was zooming at top speed to her court when just before Mankessim I got a telephone call that my lord was still sick, so case adjourned to 19th April. I had to abort the journey and make a U turn back to Accra

A line in one Presbyterian hymn runs thus:

“Yede nisu sre no se ma oyi nkye ha kakra” (with tears we plead that let this person stay here a little longer……………) but no, the candle of the High Court Judge has ran out. She is now with the sages.

Oh God our Heavenly Father, please keep My Lord Justice Adwoa Coleman safe in your perfect peaceful hands.