…Not Family & Friends Affair, Nana Told
As the names of Justice Jones Victor Mawulom Dotse, Justice Sophia Akuffo and Justice Anin Yeboah emerge as potential candidates for the fourth most powerful position in Ghana, there have been calls from some sections of the legal fraternity on the Akufo Addo government not to allow family connections and regional balance interests to influence his decision.
The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is likely to present one of these names to parliament for the approval following the retirement of Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood in June, this year.
Article 144 (1) of the 1992 Constitution provides that “the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the president, acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament.”
Clause (2) of the same article provides that “the other Supreme Court Justice shall be appointed by the President, acting on the advice of the Judicial Council, in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament.”
Information gathered by this paper has it that although Justice Jones Dotse and Justice Anin Yeboah are the frontrunners in the Chief Justice race, the only female who is seen as a dark horse, Justice Ms Sophia Akuffo, may pull a surprise not only because of her ties with the current administration, but also she is the next most senior on the bench after Justice William Atuguba.
But an Accra-based lawyer, Maurice K. Ampaw, has kicked against the likely nomination of Justice Sophia Akuffo.
In an interview monitored by this paper on Accra-based radio station Neat Fm with host Kwesi Aboagye, the outspoken legal practitioner expressed worry over her gender and name which is similar to that of the president, and said that would create some level of impression among the larger society of Ghanaian that it is been governed by family, friends and cronies.
“I beg I beg, it will be better if we even don’t mention her name, because we just had Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and now we are thinking of another female Chief Justice? We have a female as an Attorney-General, then we are also going to appoint a female Chief Justice, Why? They all bear the name Akuffo, Akuffo, and so what I am saying is that the perception we will send out there will not help. We don’t need a woman Chief Justice now, we have an Attorney General Akuffo and you are bringing in Sophia Akuffo too, that alone will not augur well for Nana Addo,” he contended.
According to Lawyer Ampaw, the country does not need a female Chief Justice and advised the President to be careful in his choice and not to cause a blunder.
He argued further that considering the age of the Ms. Justice Sophia Akuffo, she would not be in the position to occupy that position for a long time hence the need for the President to focus his attention on appointing a young and vibrant member of the bench among the trio to the position of Chief Justice.
“The woman is over qualified in my opinion for the position and I have a deep respect for her and she is very strict in discharging her duties, but what I m saying is that she is old and hopefully next year she will be going on retirement. So why do we take such a decision? We don’t want such an experiment to be carried out with such a sensitive position. The current CJ spent ten years in that position, so why bring in another person who is due for retirement because she is almost 69 years?” he stated.
Ms Justice Akuffo has been at the Supreme Court for the past two decades and been a member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force, among others.
She has Master’s degree in Law ( LL.M) from the Harvard University in the United States of America.