Feature Article of Thursday, 14 June 2012

Columnist: The True Statesman

Editorial: The GBA must come again


The description of the Ghana Bar Association as a political wing of the NPP cannot be said to be an understatement considering the current developments surrounding the institution.

In the 80s, opposition to the PNDC administration developed in different sectors of the political spectrum in Ghana including the Ghana Bar Association, who criticized government’s use of people’s tribunals in the administration of justice. Criticism the association continued throughout the PNDC and NDC 1 era, and ended abruptly when the Kuffour administration took office in 2001.

The Ghana Bar Association suddenly ceased to comment on political issues. The association did not issue a statement when the erstwhile Kuffour administration flouted a high court decision to reinstate the Former Deputy- Director of Immigration Service, Kodjo Hodari- Okae.

When one of their colleagues Tsatsu Tsikata suffers unbridled miscarriage of justice during the Kuffour administration, the association was silent. Even the then President of the GBA, Nii Osae Mills was made to resign because of comments he made on Joy Fm, that legal procedures were breached in the five- year incarceration of Tsatsu Tsatsu. The Bar Council at the time insisted the comments were prejudicial since the case was still pending at the Appeal’s Courts and more importantly Nii Osa Mills made the comments in the name of the Bar Council when he was not mandated to do so. He was subsequently hound out of office and the association issued a statement claiming it would never dabble in political commentary again.

Recently, the Ghana Bar Association issued a statement cautioning government against the potential legal ramifications in the controversial sale of a state land to NPP chairman, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, thus lifting an embargo on commentaries on political issues.

According to the Bar Association, the Supreme Court cannot be faulted for the failure of the plaintiffs in the matter to produce incontrovertible evidence against the NPP chairman. The statement said though it respects people’s right to comment on the morality of the matter it is important government does not disregard its contractual obligation in the lease document executed between the government and Jake.

Many are those who would express surprise at the political stance taken by the GBA on the Supreme Court ruling over the conflict of interest case filed against Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.

The GBA played the ostrich on political issues during the administration of the ex-president Kuffour and it is baffling to hear the association’s position on the matter.

What has changed for the group to suddenly find its voice?

It is unfortunate that an association like the Ghana Bar Association which is held in high esteem by all Ghanaians is gradually becoming a political entity. It is known to all and sundry that the Supreme Court never ordered government to hand over the Ridge property to NPP National Chairman. It is therefore extremely strange to find the GBA comment as such.

We on *The True Statesman* believe the level of hypocrisy and double standard being exhibited by the executives of the Bar Association is an attestation to the fact that it is an appendage of one political party – the opposition NPP.

We believe the current executives of the GBA lack credibility and have made the association a mockery to the extent that Ghanaians do not take it as a serious institution. They have reduced the association into an appendage of the NPP.

The True Statesman still thinks that, as a group of lawyers, the GBA should focus on being the mouthpiece and the conscience of the people rather than meddling in political issues.

The association must take steps to put its house in order to regain the credibility that Ghanaians had for them.

The current leadership of the GBA can best be described as a suffering from what can appropriately be termed as “selective amnesia.” They chose and pick issues when it affects them.