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Opinions of Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

What lasting legacy is the Chief Justice leaving to Ghanaians?

Soon, the Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood, will proceed on retirement. Her service to Ghana and being at the service of the citizens of Ghana will have come to an end due to old age, and the limitation of length of time she could spend serving her people and nation.

One will expect that she is remembered for being the first female Chief Justice in Ghana. Yes, she is, but that alone does not give her the historic recognition many a discerning Ghanaian will like to remember her for. Shall we not say it was during her tenure as Chief Justice that judicial corruption was investigated and exposed, and some judges and court clerks subsequently expelled from the judicial service? Is this not a plus to her credit or in her cap? Yes it is!

However, will others not say it was during her time that Law and Order broke down hence some judges selling justice to the highest bidder without restraints?

I am torn in-between two schools of thought about the legacy the Chief Justice will soon bequeath to Ghana when she finally proceeds on retirement to enjoy the rest of her days on earth until she is finally called home to avail herself of eternal rest by her Maker.

Opinions are like noses, everybody has got one. I am entitled to my opinion although; I shall not cut my nose to spite my face. It hurts to tell the truth but in the end, it brings comfort. It brings comfort to both the person telling the truth and the one being told the truth.

I shall remember the Chief Justice for both the good things and the bad things that have happened during her stewardship to the people of Ghana and the nation. Nonetheless, it was during her time that the nation collapsed under the weight of officialdom, corruption, practice of selective justice, unprecedented armed robberies, “create, loot and share” judgment debt payments, ineffective judicial system and the emergence of near-total monarchy in Asanteman where their “Overlord”, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II claimed superiority to the laws of the land.

She could have acted to stop the nation collapsing yet, she chose not to crack the whip on the back of the corrupt judges who were selling justice to the highest bidders who would normally be the guilty parties were true justice served. Being the head of the judiciary which is the arm of government that has oversight of the interpretation of the Constitution and the laws of the land, if she had put her foot down to exercise her powers as is required by the law and as is expected of her, Ghana would have been a better place to live, but would not have collapsed.

If judges had acted faithfully to the ethics of their profession, Law and Order would have been maintained. With the prevalence of Law and Order, most of the corruption, abuse of power, an Overlord shamelessly declaring that he is above the laws of Ghana to act criminally with impunity - the bane of Ghana’s socio-politico-economic prosperity - would not have occurred.

Apart from lackadaisically looking on and moaning while the very judges she heads were accepting bribes of all sorts with court clerks and registrars deliberately stealing or hiding dockets to influence the outcome of court cases, did she directly participate in any act that can be deemed as twisting justice? That is a hard question to answer nevertheless I shall cite the following case for the public to tell if she did act untowardly if indeed, she took that action.

There is an ongoing Kumawu chieftaincy dispute. The Asante “Overlord” Otumfuo Osei Tutu II who has no traditional and customary power over the stool and the lands of Kumawu has contrarily dubiously been exercising such powers to the detriment of the subjects of Kumawuman. In a nutshell, he has colluded to not only impose one Dr Yaw Sarfo going by the stool name of Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua on Kumawuman as their paramount chief (Omanhene) but also, had him gazetted.

The forms Dr Yaw Sarfo filled out subsequent upon which he was accepted and gazetted as Kumawuhene by the National House of Chiefs has become a public record that any Ghanaian of sound mind can avail themselves of at any time any day. However, the registrars of Kumawu Traditional Council, Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs and National House of Chiefs, Kumasi are refusing, access to, and a request for, a true form copy.

When a mandamus was issued by Mampong Regional High Court to oblige the registrar of the National House of Chiefs, Kumasi, to provide the applicants with a copy, or appear in court to explain why he would not release a certified true form copy to them, he petitioned the Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood. Subsequently, proceedings have been adjourned sine die by the Mampong High Court judge.

To add insult to injury, the Chief Justice has officially reassigned the case to a Kumasi High Court judge. The said registrar had initially insisted at one occasion that the Mampong High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the case. What the heck does the registrar want to tell me? Why should the Chief Justice reassign the case in the first place? Is she aiding the registrar not to release the public record to interested persons? By her action, is she not directly encouraging judicial corruption in another shape and form?

Anyway, the case was never tried in the first place. How could the Chief Justice conclude that the judge would be biased as opined by the registrar? Whether the judge would be biased or not, does it have to permit the registrar not to provide to the court a copy of the forms filled in by Dr Yaw Sarfo before he was dubiously or otherwise accepted and gazetted as Kumawuhene?

Yes, the Chief Justice has the power, as bestowed upon her by the Constitution and the Act of Court, to reassign cases. However, certain procedures must be followed or else she will be exercising her authority arbitrarily corruptly. How could the registrars of the above mentioned Traditional Council and House of Chiefs prove that the judge was biased or was going to be biased hence petitioning the Chief Justice to stop him from starting or continuing with hearing of the case?

Why do we have Appellate Courts (A court having jurisdiction to review decisions of a trial-level or other lower court)? Are they not there for people who feel they have been wrongly treated in a lower court to make appeals to for the decisions to be further looked into or reversed? Why the registrars could not avail themselves of that opportunity but maliciously solicited the Chief Justice to bend the rules in their favour?

Did the Mampong Regional High Court judge request the Chief Justice to transfer the case for reasons bordering on conflict of interest? NO!!!!!

No, I shall be writing the proper legacy of the Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood for the benefit of posterity.

I am really not happy at the level of judicial corruption still going on in Ghana after the ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas risking his life to expose them for the betterment of Ghana. What the Chief Justice has done, if indeed she did it herself, amounts to corruption that must be deplored.