Parliament yesterday by approved by consensus the nomination of Justice Sophia Akuffo for the position of Chief Justice of Ghana, after the Appointment Committee submitted its vetting report to the august House.
Sophia Akuffo’s approval makes her the 13th Chief Justice of Ghana and the second female after the immediate past Chief Justice, Georgina Wood.
The approval followed the favourable recommendation of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, after she was screened by the members last Friday.
Portion of the recommendation signed by Hon. Joe Osei-Owusu, First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointment Committee, reads, “The committee observed that given her high standard of competence and integrity, forthrightness and independence of thought, astuteness and in-depth appreciation of the law, fairness and selflessness, the nominee, Her Ladyship Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, qualifies to serve as the Chief Justice of the Republic.”
While presenting the report on the floor of parliament, the Appointment Committee chairman stated that, ” the committee approved Sophia Akuffo’s nomination unanimously because she exhibited the competence required for the fourth highest position in the country.”
According to the First Deputy Speaker, Justice Sophia Akuffo, at the vetting, showed a high standard of “competence and integrity, having answered questions posed to her by members of the committee.
He added that, the committee was also satisfied that the nomination of the Justice Sphia Akuffo is in conformity with the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament and is persuaded of her eligibility, competence and suitability, stating it was as result of the that, the committee, “accordingly recommends by consensus the nominee to the House for approval.”
The Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, also declared their acceptance of Justice Akuffo, saying “we strongly support the President’s nominee and that she is competent to work in that office.”
Nonetheless, Haruna said, the CJ nominee was evasive in answering some of the questions, stating, though those questions could be described as prejudicial, they were of national importance and they were on her personal opinion and not necessarily the entire bench of the Supreme Court.
The Minority leader also expressed reservation of the appointment processes of a Chief Justice of the land and the non-ceiling cap of the empanelling of the Supreme Court bench, which he stated could be abused by the appointing authorities.
During the over five-hour vetting, Justice Sophia Akuffo answered questions on the challenges within the country’s legal system, the regulations on touting, the status and relevance of the Ghana Law School, practice of mob justice and external interference of the judiciary, among others.
She is expected to be sworn into office by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, later this week.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, who is 67, was born on 20th December, 1949
She had her Master’s in Law (LLM) from the Harvard University in the United States.
She is the second senior most Justice on the Supreme Court bench, after Justice William Atuguba and has been trained as a lawyer in Nana Akufo-Addo’s Chambers.
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 People’s Rights, initially elected for two years and was subsequently re-elected until 2014, and is at present serving as Vice-President of the Court.
She has written a paper on “The Application of Information & Communication Technology in the Judicial Process – the Ghanaian Experience,” and presented it to the African Judicial Network Ghana (2002).
In a related development, classfmonline.com reports that Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo has said that one of the legacies she would like to leave after retiring from office is establishing a financially independent judiciary.
In a speech at her induction into office on Monday June 19, Justice Akuffo said she was “passionate about integrity, the delivery of quality justice, and the development and stability of our nation and will strive to demonstrate such actions throughout my tenure…”
She emphasised: “The judiciary has diligently worked for and obtained a large measure of independence. This is however made incomplete by the lack of financial independence and that is an objective I would like to achieve during my tenure as Chief Justice.”
Meanwhile, President Nana Akufo-Addo has charged her to prove herself in her new role as the Chief Justice of Ghana.
Mr. Akufo-Addo said Justice Akuffo has proved herself and did not disappoint after she was elevated to be a Supreme Court judge by former President Jerry John Rawlings some 22 years ago.
He emphasised that it was now time to prove herself as an effective Chief Justice who will advance the frontiers of justice delivery in Ghana.
“She has justified the confidence reposed in her by President Rawlings. She has now to justify the confidence I am reposing in her as Chief Justice,” he said
Mr. Akufo-Addo described her as a “shining light of Ghana’s court,” who is capable of advancing the judiciary in Ghana.
She becomes the fifth Chief Justice under the Fourth Republic.
Justice Akuffo holds a Master’s in Law (LLM) degree from 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 People’s 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).
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba