Despite Petitions For Her Removal
Ghana’s immediate past Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, has claimed she almost threw in the towel during the late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills administration, but details available to The Herald, suggest she has been economical with the real situation.
Indeed, there were real issues which the Mills government ignored, media brushed aside and the public glossed over.
The Herald, had been aware of two petitions filed at the Presidency for her removal, but the late Prof. Atta Mills, decided not to have her investigated and removed from office, upon the establishment of a prima facie case against her.
While, one had come from her former senior, Justice Francis Y Kpegah, on some stated misbavour and incompetence, the Ga–Adangme Youth, had filed another petition against her membership of a team of Ministers of State and other appointees, who purchased juicy state lands and government bungalows at knockdown prices at Roman Ridge, Airport Residential Area and Cantonments, all in Accra during the Kufuor administration.
Apart from the late President Atta Mills who shielded her, she also had friends, schoolmates and even church members inside the seat of government – Osu Castle – then who several times begged on her behalf, not to investigate and sack her.
Strangely, just about five months ago, a driver petitioned President, Akufo-Addo for him to remove Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, on grounds of “stated misbehavior” and “incompetence.”
The driver, Ernest Obiri Lartey of Suhum in the Eastern region in his petition dated February 10, 2017, said the Chief Justice, had violated Article 146 (8) of the 1992 Constitution and Ex parte communication, contrary to Rule 3 (7) and 4 (a) of the Conduct for Judges and Magistrates of Ghana (CCJMG).
President Akufo-Addo, did not set up any investigative body to probe the complaints against her.
During the Mills era, there were also issues of financial irregularities, explicitly stated audit reports during her tenure, and although these financial hemorrhages came to the attention of the National Security and by extension the Presidency, nothing was done to salvage the situation, especially so when her competence was at stake.
Unconfirmed reports, claimed she made phone calls and even visits to the Mills Presidency begging for mercy.
Again, she had fought and banned four lawyers, Dr Raymond Atuguba, David Annan, Abraham Amaliba and Larry Bimi for lamenting about corruption at a round-table discussion on the Judiciary and Ghana’s justice system organized by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) as part of an annual constitution week celebration.
Not long after, came Anas Aremeyaw Anas’s documentary on some judges collecting yam, goats and monies from agents of the journalist, who had posed as persons whose cases were before them.
The videos, were made public, investigations were carried out by the Judicial Service and a number of the judges, were sacked, confirming the extent of the rot in the Judiciary under her.
Mrs. Wood, who bowed out from office last Wednesday, after over two decades with the Judicial Service, had said, she had been sailing on stormy waters over the last decade, and it took close associates and God to keep her afloat.
An emotional Mrs. Wood, told members of her church – Ringway Assemblies of God – during a Thanksgiving Service to celebrate her 70th birthday Thursday that, elements in the former Atta Mills government, put pressure on her to resign, but she managed to succeed in office due to prayer and supplication from relatives and colleagues such as Justice Jones Dotse.
“Each single one of you added value to my life. You’re the people, who gave me hope and helped us to succeed… that is why I don’t forget Justice Dotse.
He has stood by me and has received some of the beatings through no fault of his except, he was helping to do God’s work,” the retired Chief Justice, who was Ghana’s first female to hold such position revealed.
“It will be difficult on my part that as soon as I exit I forget; I will not. I pray that all the good plans he (Dotse) had, God help him to realise.”
Mrs. Wood, was full of praise to her husband and other relatives, who prayed with her often for God to help her scale over every hurdle in her way. She stressed that people in “critical leadership positions” must never forget God in their dealings since that helps them to remain truthful and become effective.
“It has not been by our own strength and wisdom. Those in critical leadership position and even those down the ladder we thank the Lord and pray desperately. I know that among you are several other people who continually prayed for us.
“The time you need the Lord more is when you are elevated so that he will guide and shepherd and see you through,” Mrs. Wood, who is Ghana’s longest serving Chief Justice said to a loud applause.
Justice Wood was appointed by former President JA Kufuor in June 2007 and has since moved on to serve as a Council of State member under the current Akufo-Addo government.
Mr. Lartey’s petition to President Akufo-Addo, made references to the way and manner the Chief Justice, handled the bribery case of the 34 Judges, following the exposure by the investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his firm, Tiger Eye PI.
He, therefore, concluded that the CJ misbehaved and showed incompetence in the handling of the matter and therefore should be removed by the President.
“I respectfully pray that you take the requisite steps to ensure that the Chief Justice be investigated for purposes for her removal from office on grounds of stated misbehavior and incompetence,” Mr Lartey stated in the petition to the president.
Supporting his argument on the stated misbehavior, Mr Lartey stated that before the indicted Judges and Magistrates could respond to the petition Tiger Eye PI filed, the Chief Justice published the contents of the petition in both print and electronic media to the public.
He indicated Justice Paul Uuter Dery, one of the indicted Judges as a result of the publication invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for various reliefs and the Supreme Court granted it on February 4, 2016
Following from this, he thinks the Chief Justice wilfully violated the Constitution which is supreme law of the land having sworn to “at all times to uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the Laws of the Republic of Ghana.”
In addition, Mr. Lartey argued that, the Chief Justice violated the constitution because she discussed the contents of the petition from Anas with the petitioner before he submitted the petition, thus constitutes an ex parte communication.
He therefore concludes that the Chief Justice “displayed a lot of incompetence” and failed to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court that any petition seeking the removal of a Justice of the Superior Court must not be published in the media as well as failing to properly identify the petitioner in her letters to all the indicted Justices.