The highly revered retired jurist of the Supreme Court, has emphasized the need for appointments to the judiciary and other governance institutions to be based on merit, rather than factors such as protocol, cronyism, ethnicity, or improper considerations.
Justice William Atuguba, speaking at a public lecture yesterday themed “Protecting our democracy: the role of the Judiciary”, highlighted the importance of these institutions, particularly the Judiciary, being shielded from political pressures.
He further stressed the necessity of conducting a realistic audit and restructuring of not only the Judiciary but all governmental institutions.
“The current public image of the Judiciary in Ghana is reflected on Social Media. In view of all this what matters most is the realistic auditing and restructuring of the Judiciary and indeed all other governmental institutions because just as the cyanide of illegal mining galamsey has devastated our forest lands and poisoned our water bodies so also has the cyanide of Political Corruption poisoned our Governance Institutions.
“Appointments to the Judiciary or any other governance institution must be made by thoroughly independent bodies based on nothing but merit and not on things like protocol, cronyism, ethnicity, or other improper considerations.
“The governance institutions particularly the Judiciary must be realistically insulated against presidential and other political pressures. Service conditions must be reasonably attractive and security of tenure of office must be enshrined. The Executive Powers of the President and his functionaries must be drastically curtailed. There must be a real separation of parliament from the Executive branch. The emphasis should be on good and sincere governance in the interest of the people and not on hollow over exaggerated notions of electoral conferment of power on anybody or a group of persons.
“But no meaningful political reforms can be reasonably expected even under a regime change without sustaining the Political Renaissance which has started and is growing well in Ghana.
“It is for this reason that I would like to acknowledge, encourage, and congratulate nationalists like Kwasi Pratt, Dr. Arthur Kennedy of the USA, Dr. Gyampoh of the University of Ghana, Prof. Bokpin of the University of Ghana, Prof Agyeman -Duah of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), recently Dr. Asare-Baah rtd, formerly of the Political Science Department, KNUST., Kwame Pianim, Dr. Nyaho-Nyaho Tamakloe, Kelvin Taylor of the USA (though he should desist from insults), Emmanuel Wilson Jnr. The Chief Crusader Against Corruption in Ghana. I don’t know most of these people I have mentioned personally but I have followed their works on social media, and I am impressed, however, I hope that they will remain nationalistic no matter the regime in power.
“I also wish to acknowledge some of the many Civil Society Organisations such as Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Citizen Ghana Movement, Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Parliamentary Network Africa, Penplusbytes, Media Foundation for West Africa, Send Ghana, One Ghana Movement, Centre for Democratic Development, Democracy Hub, Occupy Ghana, and Institute for Democratic Governance. I regret I cannot recall all of them but nonetheless, none of them should feel excluded.”
Justice Atuguba, criticized the apex court over the trial of Assin North MP, James Gyakye Quayson who is facing a marathon of legal issues for allegedly failing to renounce his Canadian citizenship before contesting the 2020 parliamentary elections.
Justice Atuguba expressed concerns over the Supreme Court’s decision to re-try the Gyakye Quayson case, as the High Court, per the constitution, has the power to hear challenges to parliamentary results.
He also described the disqualification of Gyakye Quayson as “scandalous”.
“The James Gyakye Quayson’s decision by the Supreme Court is with all due respect scandalous in that the court, in the teeth of the settled maxim Res Judicata et non quieta movere, re-adjudicated the same matter that has been adjudicated upon by the High Court on the merits. All that was left was its execution according to court processes.
“Again the stress laid by the court on the statutory processes for acquisition and renunciation of citizenship shot itself in the foot. If the certificate of renunciation is so mandatory and conclusive why was it not conclusive in its effect to qualify Gyakye Quason when he received it, dated 26th November 2020, whereas the parliamentary election was held on 7th December 2020? Statutes, judgements, and documents must always be applied with consistency both in the letter and spirit.
“These must always be construed holistically and as instruments of justice since it is a well-settled principle that the duty of a court is to do justice and a court should not be turned away from doing justice.”
The Gyakye Quayson case has been widely seen as a test case for Ghana’s democracy. The Supreme Court’s decision to retry the case and disqualify the MP raised concerns about the independence of the judiciary and the potential for the court to be used to overturn the results of elections.