Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Editor of the Insight newspaper, has lashed out at the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) for its “selectivity” in handling alleged misconduct by some of its members with regards to their comments before and after the 2012 election petition hearing.
The Bar Association, according to Kwesi Pratt Jnr., has been “hijacked by political zealots pursuing their narrow, partisan political interests in the name of the legal collective.”
Mr Pratt’s critical comments come on the back of a statement issued by the GBA ostensibly in response to Mr Tsatsu Tsikata’s critique of Justice Anin Yeboah – one of the nine Justices who ruled on the election petition – of being politically bias in his rulings on the petition.
Last week Saturday on TV3’s news analysis programme Hot Issues Mr Tsikata told show host, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, that Justice Anin-Yeboah, allowed his political affiliations to cloud his judgment.
Mr. Tsikata said Justice Anin Yeboah consistently took an opposing stance against the National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s arguments and position as far as the case was concerned, from the onset.
Mr Tsikata was the lead Counsel for the NDC, who were Third Respondent in the petition.
The Bar Association subsequently issued a statement to warn “all lawyers especially lawyers who instructed in the petition before the Supreme Court to remember that it amounts to misconduct to grant interviews to the media in a matter in which such a person is instructed as counsel.”
A former president of the Association, Mr Samuel Okudzeto, also told Joy News that Mr Tsikata’s comments must be condemned since it was not good for the peace of the country.
Former President John Kufuor also issued a statement to condemn Mr Tsikata’s comments.
Mr Tsikata has since stood his ground, insisting he made the comments in truth and did not owe neither former President Kufuor nor Justice Anin Yeboah any apology.
Speaking on Alhaji and Alhaji news analysis programme on Radio Gold on Saturday September 7, Mr Pratt said the Ghana Bar Association was not consistent in condemning misconducts by lawyers.
He claims some lawyers have done and said worse things than Mr Tsikata, but are yet to be condemned by the Bar Association.
“Even before Mr Tsikata has spoken, there were other lawyers who were lashing at the Supreme Court Judges, who were calling them names and calling the [election petition] judgement corrupt. Where was the Ghana Bar Association at that time?”, Kwesi Pratt asked.
He said the Bar Association deliberately went silent on comments by some lawyers belonging to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) but chose to pick on Mr Tsikata for stating the facts.
He wondered whether the Bar Association had heard a lawyer threatening one of the Supreme Court Justices – in reference to a statement attributed to the NPP General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie.
Mr Pratt indicated that the Bar Association had a long history of being selective in supporting or condemning some people or actions.
“You recall that when Mr Tsikata was convicted by the High Court, the President of the Bar Association at the time, Nii Osa Mills, visited Mr Tsatsu Tsikata in Nsawam prisons as a sign of solidarity…[but subsequently] Nii Osa Mills was removed,” stated Mr Pratt.
Again he claims the Bar Association went on a month-long strike in solidarity with Mr Kwabena Mensah Bonsu in the famous ‘page 28 case’.
Mr. Kwabena Mensah-Bonsu, who was a columnist of the Free Press newspaper, had written an article in which he alleged that the late former Chief Justice, I.K. Abban, had doctored a ruling of the Supreme Court, by inserting a 1972 Daily Graphic editorial as the opinion of Dr. K.A. Busia.
Justice Abban took strong exception to the allegation, and subsequently dragged Mr. Mensah Bonsu, who later became Ghana’s Ambassador to the Republic of Togo under the Kufuor regime, to the Supreme Court on contempt of court charges.
In her ruling on the contempt charges, Justice Bamford-Addo said ‘truth is of no defence’ for contempt. Mensah Bonsu was incarcerated.
Justice Bamford-Addo was severely bashed in the newspapers for that comment.
The Bar Association then withdrew their services in solidarity with Mr Kwabena Mensah Bonsu.
But Mr Pratt said some of those GBA executives who led that campaign against the Supreme Court and Justice Bamford-Addo are today themselves repeating that in contempt cases “the truth is not the defence.”
“Were they (GBA) engaged in a partisan political interest then?”, he asked.
He said the Bar association is meant to be the “repository of what is lawful” but is currently “flip-flopping” and abandoning principles.