Details are beginning to emerge on last Tuesday’s state awards given out by the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, to some prominent Ghanaians with reports that two individuals from the president’s paternal side who played various roles in two of the categories; Ex-Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo and ex-Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Afua Akuffo, were not at the ceremony to pick up their awards.
Individuals, whose efforts led to Ghana’s victory over Cote d’Ivoire in maritime border conflict at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Hamburg-Germany were awarded. Gloria Afua Akuffo was nominated for this category, but like her predecessor, Marietta A. Brew, as well as Lawyer Fui Tsikata, she rejected it.
Interestingly, there were some personalities who were also awarded by the President under the ITLOS category, but their awards have since sparked controversy as to the nature of their roles. They include the current Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, Joe Ghartey, Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Prof. Dominic Fobih among others.
Their inclusion, has been cited as an attempt to dilute the significance of the work of Marietta and Gloria group. However, they is a claim that, they was another aspect of the Maritime dispute that people don’t know much about, that is the extension of Ghana’s continental shelf, but The Herald’s information is that, even that work had already been done by the group that Marietta Brew eventually led, which started work under late president John Evans Atta Mills.
Gloria Akuffo’s name was on the list of awardees, but she did not show up to pick it.
Another category saw awards dished out to some individuals, institutions and partners who distinguished themselves in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by the State at the National Honours and Awards 2023, held at the Accra International Conference Centre.
However, copiously missing from the ceremony was the Board Chair of National COVID-19 Trust Fund, former Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, whose outfit raised a cash amount of GHC62, 329,941.98 from March 27, 2020 to June 2022.
The fund was set up by an Act of Parliament (Act 1013) to help mobilise funds to be used in complementing the government’s efforts at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was not clear if Justice Akuffo, who recently incurred the wrath of her cousin’s government by joining a group of pensioners to picket at the Finance Ministry in February, and had described the government’s decision to include pensioners’ fund in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme as inhumane, sheer wickedness and outright disrespectful.
Both, Justice Sophia Akuffo and Gloria Afua Akuffo, are direct paternal cousins of President Akufo-Addo from Akropong in the Akuapim North District of the Eastern Region.
Meanwhile, The Herald has landed a letter written by Marietta A. Brew to the Solicitor General in which she politely rejected the state honour for the role she played in Ghana’s victory over Cote d’Ivoire in maritime border conflict at ITLOS.
She had in the letter dated December 6, 2022, asked the Solicitor General to convey to the Office of His Excellency the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo her “sincere appreciation” for nominating her for such a prestigious award, however, for personal reasons, she is “constrained to decline the nomination”.
The ex-Attorney-General’s letter was in response to one from the Solicitor General dated October 28, 2022, requesting “for profiles of the members of the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire maritime border conflict resolution team”.
Ms. Brew, a senior partner in the law firm of Lithur Brew Company in Accra, had explained that although she felt honoured and humbled by this nomination, aside the her personal reasons, her “respectful view is that the list of the nominees of the Main Legal Team does not entirely reflect the Ghana v Cote d’Ivoire maritime boundary dispute team members that worked tirelessly and conscientiously for the successful conclusion of the dispute”.
The Ex-Attorney General is one of the two known individuals who turned down last Tuesday’s state honours dished out by President Nana Akufo-Addo, has finally broken his silence and given reasons for not showing up at the Accra International Conference Centre to pick up the award insisting it was unfortunately selective by omitting those who worked the hardest and even fell ill in the process.
Lawyer Fui Tsikata and others were slated for the state honours for their roles in getting Ghana triumph over Côte d’Ivoire, but declined.
He has since explained that he finds “it is impossible to understand the criteria which excluded the names” who were very instrumental in getting Ghana defeat Côte d’Ivoire at the ITLOS suggesting they were more deserving of the awards than him.
In a statement released on Wednesday, 15th March 2023, he disclosed writing to the Solicitor-General about “the rather unfortunate selectivity in deciding those involved in the maritime boundary litigation to whom awards would be given”.
Mr Tsikata’s statement appears to be in response to Presidential Staffer, Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe, post on Facebook, shortly after the ceremony, saying “Lawyer Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Lawyer Fui Tsikata wrote to decline the National Honours awards as Members of Ghana’s legal team at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Sad!”
Mr. Tsikata, who is well vested in mineral law in the statement stated that “in my letter of 2 November 2022 to the Solicitor-General, in response to hers informing me of the offer of an award, I explain that “I have long and deeply held convictions about not accepting recognition in the form of national honours.”
“Those who know me will confirm these convictions as well as my inclination to avoid grand public gestures and the fuss around them. If anything tarnishes the awards, it is not my rejection of the offer to me, but rather the unfortunate selectivity in deciding those involved in the maritime boundary litigation to whom awards would be given.
The head of the Reindorf Chambers, an Accra-based law firm mentioned the names of Nana Asafu-Adjaye, Thomas Manu, Ayaa Armah, Kojo Agbenor-Efunam, Nana Appia Kyei and Nii Adzei Akpor, adding “even Professor Martin Tsamenyi is left out” although “It was his work that led to the creation of the Maritime Boundary Secretariat, which co-ordinated the litigation”.
Mr. Tsikata, said of Prof. Tsamenyi that “he was an influential member of the team till he fell ill”.
“Nor is it clear why Kwame Mfodwo, the Co-ordinator of the Maritime Boundary Secretariat and Nana Poku, the indefatigable cartographer of the team, were only deserving of “Certificates”, in an evidently belated attempt to offer them some acknowledgement”.
According to him, he prefers “to celebrate the collective effort of the team and the leadership that promoted collaboration and stifled disruptive elements. The unforgettable images of Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong handing over to Gloria Akuffo symbolise that and remain indelible”.