Thursday, September 02, 2010
‘CLEANING JUDGES IS REAL’
Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood is the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana
Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday September 2, 20101
With the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) seemingly hell bent on ‘cleaning judges’, an impeccable source within the judiciary has told Daily Guide that the threats of ‘house cleaning’ are seriously intended to intimidate the judiciary and ‘push out’ the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina T. Wood.
Even though President John Evan Atta Mills has said he does not intend to interfere with the work of the judiciary following the infamous declaration by the ruling party’s National Chairman, Dr. Kwabena Adjei that the NDC will clean the judges, the attacks still persist even with greater force.
Some stalwarts of the party including all the Regional Chairmen after President Mills’ public assurance unanimously endorsed Dr. Kwabena Adjei’s threats saying they did not see anything wrong with it with Johnson Asiedu Nketia aka General Mosquito, the party’s General-Secretary also saying that he would have said the same thing if the party’s chairman had failed to do so.
Last Sunday, Yaw Boateng Gyan, NDC National Organiser reiterated the chairman’s statement when he told party activists at a rally in Anyinam that if the cat misbehaves they will kill it.
David Annan, son of former Speaker of Parliament Justice D.F. Annan and a member of the NDC’s Legal Committee speaking on Radio Gold’s ‘Alhaji and Alhaji’ programme on Saturday, August 28, 2010, gave a clear indication of the ruling party’s intentions against judges particularly the Chief Justice warning that in a month’s time the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) “will find out how we are going to clean the judiciary”.
Following recent series of legal defeats the Mills administration suffered in the law courts, the NDC called for the heads of judges, accusing them of deliberately ensuring that NDC cases against NPP appointees are thrown out by the courts and singled out the Chief Justice and some senior judges with unwarranted abuse and humiliation.
But, a source at the judiciary has told Daily Guide that “Justice Georgina Wood since her appointment has carried out what clearly is her constitutional and lawful duty in the supreme interest of the state and in accordance with laid down rules and according to the dictates of the 1992 Constitution.”
The source protested vehemently claims by the NDC that the judiciary manipulated election adjudication in favour of the NPP saying “with funding from the UNDP and for the very first time in the history of this country, the CJ caused a manual on election adjudication to be published.
“This easy-to-read manual on the law and practice on electoral offences and election disputes is to equip and appraise judges, lawyers, political parties and indeed all other stakeholders, on the substantive laws.”
The source said the CJ had never taken any partisan or ad hoc decision to assist the NPP to access the courts clandestinely or unlawfully, saying “the Chief Justice under Courts Act 1993 (Act 459) Section 104 (1) set up a well-structured programme to handle all election-related disputes and it was brought to the attention of all the parties before the 2008 general elections.”
“Under the programme, judges had permission of the Chief Justice to sit on election related disputes on all days including public holidays and weekends” adding “at no time did the CJ advise the NPP to file any application, neither did she coach them how to go about their work.”
The source also said when persistent complaints of some persons including lawyers exerting undue influence on court registrars to send cases of their choice got to the CJ, she quickly issued a directive that some very serious cases be assigned under her guidance, saying “the wild claims that choice are made which enable the CJ to predict outcome of cases are unfounded because cases are judged in accordance with the law and evidence that is presented before the court.”
The source hinted that in the particular cases in which the state lost against Grace Omaboe aka Maame Dokono and Zulieka Asamoah-Boateng wife of Stephen Asamoah-Boateng the state and its prosecutors chose which courts to hear these cases saying “the CJ had no hand in the selection or outcomes of these two cases.”
“In some jurisdictions it is the statutory duty of the CJ to distribute cases, while in others it is electronically done. A team builder and ardent believer in accountability, transparency and improved systems, she welcomes any suggestions that would make the system even more transparent and workable,” Daily Guide was told.
However as a firm believer in the institutional independence of the judiciary and the independence of individual judges, the source said it is common knowledge that she does not in any way interfere with the manner in which judges carry out trials or outcome of cases.
On the MV Benjamin investigations and aftermath the source said the CJ who was the chairperson cannot be blamed for the committee’s inability to specifically identify those who carted away the 76 parcels of cocaine from the vessel saying “no evidence was led and totally out of character for the CJ to manufacture any such evidence. Well over three years since the conclusion, she has not been apprised of any such evidence.”
The source also said the impression created that the CJ made a public apology on behalf of the NPP government in 2008 on the Trotro Drivers’ issue was unfortunate because when the issues came up that the Motor Courts had not applied the law as they should in the Trotro drivers issue a public apology was rendered to the drivers by the CJ on behalf of the judiciary.
The source added that it was very unfortunate that there are shameless attempts to dismember the judiciary and wondered what fruits it will yield for a country struggling so hard to portray its democratic credentials.
At the time of the MV Benjamin case, for instance CJ had served for 34 years on the bench. In 1994, the Law Faculty, University of Ghana in recognising her contribution to the legal system conferred on her an honorary award for an outstanding judicial career, described it as “with hard work, integrity, and judgments that are well thought out and reasoned” and “which have earned her the respect and admiration of colleagues on the bench and bar.”