… His 1995 boycott of courts out; 21-year-old video also pops up
The Director of Communications of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has taken a swipe at the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, over his recent response to former President John Dramani Mahama’s comments about how one-sided Ghana’s judiciary has become.
According to Lawyer Kakra Essamuah, it beats his mind that President Akufo-Addo, who was once at the forefront of a month-long boycott of the courts in this country in 1995 at the height the late Jerry John Rawlings’ presidency, would feel the need to attack anyone criticizing the courts today, insisting he was “very very disturbed and saddened at the turn of events in Ghana at the moment”.
Interestingly, a 21-year old video of Nana Akufo-Addo, then as Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the John Kufuor administration, has emerged with him attacking some Supreme Court justices namely; Justice Joyce Bamford Addo, Justice A. K. B. Ampiah, Justice F. Y. Kpegah, Justice E. D. K. Adjabeng and Justice Theodore Kwame Adzoe, for declaring the Fast Track High Court as unconstitutional in the celebrated case of Tsatsu Tsikata vrs. Attorney General.
Mr Akufo-Addo, after the verdict against him went after the judges. Days later two new judges; Justice George Lamptey and Justice Kwame Afreh, were added to the original list who eventually overturned the previous majority decision and again the current President was vitriolic in his attack on the judges, calling them Rawlings era judges and openly suggested their previous decision was inspired by the government that appointed them to the Supreme Court.
On a TV3 current affairs programme, he remarked “whatever the majority had sought to do in the original decision was wholly erroneous and fundamentally flawed. Mr Justice Afreh, used the word awful to describe the decision. I have no doubt in my mind that the decision of the Supreme Court, as originally pronounced, was a decision that was originally perverse; one of the worse decisions that has come from that court, and legal scholars when they come to make their analysis, will see that it was a decision founded on very little basis and a very great deal of artificial scholarship was employed to arrive at the decision”.
During the recent Ghana Bar Association Annual Conference 2022 in Accra, President Nana Akufo-Addo ‘teased’ John Dramani Mahama and the NDC for going to court over the 2020 elections and sorely losing.
“Just as the government continues to implement policies to chart a path to advance the rule of law and thereby re-enforce the confidence in the people and shore up our nation as a country governed by the rule of law. There are some that have made it their political agenda to disarray systematically the image of the judiciary for selfish parochial partisan reasons.
“These are the plaintiffs who go to court, indeed the highest court of the land, provide the skimpiest of evidence to back their claims and yet insist that their claims be upheld, despite the elementary violation of the ancient common law rules for the discharge of the burden of proof that such a resort will entail.
“It is no wonder that their claims were unanimously dismissed 7-0 by the apex court. The result of this case is in stark contrast to the result in 2013, when the unsuccessful plaintiffs managed to persuade four out of a nine-member court to fight for them and yet the earlier plaintiffs chose not to wage a political war against the court,” he added.
But in reacting to the development in a recent interview with Class FM, the NDC Communications Director, Kakra Essamuah, explained that it was hypocritical of the president to even attack anyone criticizing a judgment of the apex court.
He recalled a moment in 1995 when Nana Akufo-Addo, as president of the Greater Accra Region branch of the Ghana Bar Association, joined a major boycott of court proceedings.
“I’m very very disturbed and saddened at the turn of events in Ghana at the moment. I’m a lawyer. Let me tell you a special story. In 1995, I was counsel – junior counsel to Mr B. J. Da Rocha in a case in which the republic, led by the Deputy Attorney General, Martin Amidu, prosecuted a lawyer for contempt of court.
“The Supreme Court convicted a lawyer called Kwabena Mensah Bonsu – he’s still alive, if you like, go and ask him. He was convicted for contempt and jailed for one month at Nsawam Prisons. Do you know what happened in Ghana? Lawyers in Ghana boycotted all courts for one month because of that judgment.
“At that material time, the president of the Greater Accra regional branch of the Ghana Bar Association was Akufo-Addo, who is now president. Now, what is he talking about?” he said.
The NDC party executive, further stated that if the president is attacking John Mahama over his recent comments on the judiciary, then what he and the other lawyers did decades ago is even worse.
“Why is he talking as if he is a child? Is that what we deserve as Ghanaians? What is wrong with ordinary citizens criticizing the judgments of the Supreme Court? When you boycott courts, you boycott going to work because of a judgment of the Supreme Court. Which one is more serious?” he said.
Referring to the President, he asked, why is he talking as if he is a child? Is that what we deserve as Ghanaians? What is wrong with ordinary citizens criticizing the judgments of the Supreme Court?
Are the Judges not human beings you and I know? Now the judges there behave as if they are God, what is all these? What is happening in this country being led by Akufo-Addo, who himself led the boycott of the court because of that? I feel so saddened and disappointed.
He disagreed with people, saying Mr Mahama and his men were bastardizing the court, adding the judges are to give their opinions based on the law, but they are human beings and anytime they make mistakes they can be criticized.
Judges like leaders, he said, are servants serving the interests of the people, not bosses of themselves.
He questioned why the judges are behaving like they can’t be criticized. They are not human beings anymore? Justice Anin-Yeboah, is no more a human being, is he an angel?
Lawyer Kakra Essamuah, also questioned, why the President has taken sides on the matter between the judges and the opposition parties on the performance of the judiciary, insisting that all that the NDC is expecting from the judges, is proper and ethical conduct and not a “foolish and construed opinion”.