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Supreme Court Justices Aren’t Sacrosanct; They Aren’t Above Reproach

It is common knowledge that Ghanaians hold their Supreme Court Judges dear; they view and treat the judges with reverence and worship the ground that they walk on.

In fact, Ghanaians hold the judges in such high esteem that to criticize their judicial decisions is tantamount to committing a cardinal sin, to threaten the relative stability of the country.

Not surprisingly, few individuals dare say anything remotely close to villifying or disparaging the judges. Except, of course, the remarkably fearless Mr. Raymond Atuguba, a law professor at the University of Ghana.

Mr. Atuguba had the audacity, yet again, to rattle the occupants of Ghana’s most sacred institution with the disclosure of the results of a research he had conducted on 100 political cases settled by the Supreme court.

At last week’s Law Conference at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, GIMPA, Mr. Atuguba, much to the displeasure and chagrin of the gathered judges, said that recent Supreme Court decisions were politically tainted and made largely along partisan lines, 81 percent NPP and 64 percent NDC, and that they reflected the wishes of the judges political masters.

The end result of all that politicking was the Supreme Court losing its way and in the process, its impartiality and independence, Mr. Atuguba added.

I have no reservations about Mr. Atuguba’s research. He may have been driven by political considerations to say what some would consider unplatable things about the Supreme Court.

But he was performing a public service, saying openly what many of us think privately about the country’s top judges, and that is, they are tied at the hip with the two major political parties.

Predictably, the judges did not take too kindly to Mr. Atuguba’s apparent effrontery. They instantly ganged up on him, and essentially accused him of being a grandstander, a self promoter and grossly disrespect of his elders.

Shamelessly leading the charge against Mr. Atuguba was the Chief Justice herself, Madam Sophia Akuffo, who proceeded to warn Mr. Atuguba against the importation of foreign ideas into our legal system.

Madam Akuffo said: “It is an American type of research that you have done. That is fine, but please be careful what you are importing into our environment.”

Huh? Did Madam Sophia really say that? Was she hallucinating? Importation of foreign ideas? Lets be frank here: our judicial system is foreign by its very nature and creation. It is a colonial legacy, a leftover by the British.

We have never crafted our own legal system. Madam Akuffo is denying the obvious, and that is, the Justices of the Supreme Court are highly partisan, and nothing she or her colleagues on the bench say, will alter that fact.

The judges’ outcry and their immediate excoriation and bashing of Mr. Atuguba, who I must proudly say, is a local Tamale product, a former student of my alma mater, Saint Charles Secondary School, was in all respects, a veiled attempt to gag him and to maintain their privileged perch atop Ghanaian society. Judging from their reaction, they absolutely hate criticism. But sacrosanct the judges aren’t.

I really don’t want to say this about our Supreme Court judges, but given their intransigence and their reluctance to accept constructive criticism in good faith, I think they are dinosaurs trapped in a time-warp.

And, it is about time they let go of the absurd notion that they aren’t partisan and apolitical. They are doing the bidding of the politicians who appointed them and Ghanaians know that. Would someone, please, tell the Judges that their anger towards Mr. Atuguba is grossly misplaced.




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