… As It Awaits Sophia Akuffo, Naa Torshie
The Appointments Committee of Parliament is promising a thorough but more friendly scrutinising of the newly-nominated Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, who is billed to appear before the committee next Monday, June 19, for vetting.
The committee will also on next Tuesday June, 20 grill Ms Irene Naa Torshie Addo, the President’s nominee as Administrator of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF).
Hon, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu and member of the Appointments Committee, disclosed this to parliamentary press in Accra over the weekend.
According to him, the members of the Appointment Committee have met to revise their procedure and resolved to attach serious scrutinising on nominees appearing before them devoid of political interest.
He stated that “Changes should be expected because we are growing as a parliament and we take the public feedback seriously. Based on feedback we have received on the vetting of ministers and our own review and assessment that we have carried out, it has become necessary to review our work.”
Though he did not mention the new procedure that the committee intends implementing this time round, the former Deputy Minister of Education said the format for the scrutinising will fairly differ from what has been in the known over the years, especially during the vetting of the 110 ministers and their deputies.
“We are changing our modalities a little bit, but we have proposed the 19th and 20th of June. Unless there are some changes, it is going to be 19th and 20th of June,” he explained.
He said, apart from the two latest Presidential nominees, any person appearing before the Appointment Committee of Parliament should be clean beyond question, “for we at this time round are going to review our procedure and line of questions, but, in all, Ghanaians should be rest assured we will do a thorough job.”
The President appointed Justices Sophia Akuffo last month as a replacement for retired Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who left office on June 8, this year, having reached the compulsory and constitutional retirement age.
But Mr. Ablakwa explained that, the committee, chaired by Joseph Osei-Wusu, is expected to interrogate Justice Sophia Akuffo on a wide range of issues, including her vision for the position and the judiciary in general.
He indicated that, unlike the ministerial vetting which was solely done by members of the Appointments Committee, the chairman would this time round, extend an invite to other parliamentarians to join in the vetting of the Chief Justice-nominee.
The possible MPs to join include the Ranking Member and Chairman of Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs and the Ranking Member and Chairman of Judiciary Committee of Parliament.
The Minority Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs added that, other issues that the Appointment Committee is expecting beyond the public notice, which has been issued for memoranda to be submitted, are some of the judgments the incoming Chief Justice has delivered as well as papers she has written.
He also assured that the public will notice a remarkable change, which is in the interest of the public.
As to whether the Minority side on the Appointment Committee would not as usual ask difficult questions of Justice Sophia Akuffo, he said, “it is not an issue of being hard or harsh, but rather about creating the right conditions for thorough work.”
In the considered view of Mr. Ablakwa that would enable the nominees to give of their best going forward as “it is not tailored to be intimidating or unfair to future nominees.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo named Justice Sophia Akuffo as the replacement for the former Chief Justice, Georgina Wood.
Currently, Justice William Atuguba is the acting Chief Justice. The approval process of Parliament is in line with Article 144 of the 1992 constitution.
Sophia Akuffo had her Master’s in Law (LLM) from the Harvard University in the United States. She has been a member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and the Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force.
In January 2006, she was elected one of the first judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights initially elected for two years, she was subsequently re-elected until 2014 and is at present serving as Vice-President of the Court.
She has written The Application of Information & Communication Technology in the Judicial Process – the Ghanaian Experience, a presentation to the African Judicial Network Ghana (2002).
If confirmed by parliament, Justice Sophia Akuffo will be the fifth Chief Justice under the Fourth Republic, after Isaac Kobina Abban, who served between 1995 and 2001.
Edward Kwame Wiredu also served between 2001 and 2003, while George Kingsley Acquah served from 2003 to 2007 before Georgina Theodora Wood from 2007 to 2017.
Justice Akuffo will also be the 13th Chief Justice in the history of the Republic of Ghana.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba