The ruling National Democratic Congress has accused the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood of compromising her political neutrality.

The party catalogued actions it claims the CJ has taken in the past that lend credence to the assertion.

The NDC has therefore asked the government “to institute a public forum for people to present their accounts of the obvious administrative shortcomings, moral and pecuniary corruption in the justice system and act accordingly on the results of the forum, to give to ourselves and posterity a system of justice which keeps true to the constitutional requirements of the concept of justice originating and sustained by the people.”

A statement signed by the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the NDC, Mr Ade Coker, on behalf of all regional chairmen of the party said such a forum will “be a logical sequel to previous reports on corruption and bias in the Judiciary.”

Members of the ruling party have had serious problems with some members of the bench whom they accuse of delivering political judgements at the court and embarrassing the government in the process.

Last week, the party’s Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei asked the CJ to clean the judiciary or the party will do that for her.

The comments received flak from the public but the party stood by its chairman, insisting he did nothing wrong.

On President John Atta Mills’ return Monday from the United States where he spent his leave, he assured he had no intention to purge the judiciary, reiterating the independence of that institution.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Read the full statement of the NDC below.

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS

PRESS STATEMENT
For Immediate release
24/08/2010

NDC REGIONAL CHAIRMEN REFLECT ON RECENT NATIONAL ISSUES

Barely a week ago, Dr. Kwabena Adjei, the National Chairman of our great Party, the ruling National Democratic Congress addressed a news conference on matters pertaining to the administration of justice in the wake of a court ruling on the Ghana @50 Commission of Enquiry trial. Since the news conference, this country has witnessed an outpouring of reaction and comment from all sections of our society.

Some so-called civil society organisations which have hitherto remained dormant and for all purposes, clinically dead have suddenly resurrected from their deep, self-induced slumber. Individuals who between 2001 and 2008 when Kufour was in power had nothing to say on the inadequacies in the administration of justice, the poor social services, drug trafficking and the incipient corruption and the NPP divide and rule politics, have discovered a new profession of advocacy.

The reaction of the motley group of pro NPP civil society organisations and individuals has been dispersed and unfocused. They have sought to incite sections of the country against His Excellency President Mills and the NDC as a party.

Our National Chairman has been maligned and accused of all sorts of infractions on the democratic, constitutional order even to the extent of some calling for his arrest and prosecution for high treason when even a layman knows that mere words cannot constitute the high crime of treason. That this curious and infantile call for Kwabena Adjei’s arrest was led by no less a person than Hon Joe Ghartey, immediate past Attorney General and Minister for Justice speaks volumes on why justice came to be so perverted under the Kuffour Administration.

We the Regional Party Chairmen decided to issue this statement not only in solidarity with our National Chairman but are also compelled by the nature and variety of the commentary on the Party’s original statement, to come out again, and re-state our collective position in clear unambiguous terms.

The 1992 constitution which is the basic law of this country, states at several places that all power, political, legislative and judicial and residual, emanates from the people, and should be deployed by elected and other public officials for the sole benefit of the grantors of that power, the people. Our national constitution did not create nor recognise nor clothe any institution of state or person, with the aura of a sacred cow, all institutions and persons holding public office must bow before the will of the people who gave themselves this Constitution. Even in our lay man mind, the literal meanings of article 1, clause 1 and article 125, clause 1 of the 1992 Constitution leave no reasonable person in any doubt that justice ultimately flows from the people. It is this general understanding and appreciation of the origins of power, political, legislative, or judicial, howbeit described, that underpinned and informed our Party statement a week ago.

Let us now turn our attention to the exercise of judicial authority in our recent past which clearly supports calls for the exercise of popular oversight. It is a fact that since the assumption of office of the current Chief Justice, she has decided to personally perform a task which we believe was hitherto, the agreed preserve of the registrars of the various courts. Here, we refer to the very necessary but highly sensitive task of case assignment in our Courts.

We happen to know that in several other jurisdictions they now use a blind lottery system to select which judge would preside over which case, to prevent the manipulation of the outcome of litigation. In Ghana, our Chief Justice we are told uses a special group perceived to be her favourites in the system to perform this sensitive task which can enable her to predict the outcome of cases in which she has an interest.

We all remember the proceedings of the MV Benjamin cocaine loss probe over which Mrs Georgina Wood presided. She was appointed Chief Justice shortly after that inconclusive enquiry which eventually led to the acquittal of the principal suspects in the missing cocaine. Her role in the missing cocaine trial and subsequent appointment created a perception that it was her reward for doing a favourable job for President Kufour and the drug barons who exercised so much influence in the NPP administration. Unfortunate as this perception is her own actions have not helped matters, and we will explain.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, you will recall that in between the first and second round of voting in the 2008 presidential elections, the Chief Justice came out publicly, in a statement, to apologise to all taxi and trotro drivers who had suffered imprisonment as a result of the amendment of the road offences laws by the NPP government in 2007, and which was repealed in 2008, just before the elections. It is not the place of the Chief Justice, or for that matter, the judiciary, to apologise for the application and enforcement of misconceived laws. That responsibility lies squarely in the bosom of the executive. The obvious reason for this invasion of the party political space by the Chief Justice was to play a role in the faltering campaign of the then ruling NPP, which as you may recall, even included a former Minister of State, kneeling in the sands of Winneba to plead for the votes of fishermen and women in the wake of the pair trawling disaster of that late unlamented government.

Again, our Chief Justice was at the centre of the court case mounted by the NPP in the dying days of the regime to prevent the Electoral Commissioner from declaring the outcome of the poll, and stopping the ultimate vote in the Tain Constituency. Our Chief Justice actually issued a warrant for the high court to sit on a public holiday, the intent being to prevent the will of the people, the very source of her office and authority, from being enforced in the 2008 elections. There was absolutely no compelling reason for this course of action by the NPP, but it was also absolutely inappropriate and inexcusable for the judicial authority of the land to be exercised in such a blatantly partisan manner with the active connivance and blessings of her high office. Indeed, the statements of Lawyer Atta Akyea, brother in law of the Chief Justice who was a central figure in this case which is captured on tape to the extent that she has not denied the claims by the latter, could be cited as proof of bias.

We should not forget that a week earlier, the CJ had given the go-ahead for another case against an NDC parliamentary candidate to proceed on Christmas Day 2008. It is our submission that notwithstanding the amendments which enabled a speedy dispatch of election cases, she has no authority to permit a court to sit in violation of the Public Holiday Act, when it is clear that the latter and more powerful law can only be suspended by the President. The eminent jurist the late BJ Da Rocha himself an elder of the NPP made it clear at the time that the CJ has acted inappropriately. We are persuaded that all these acts perpetrated by our sitting head of our judiciary compromised her neutrality and as Ghanaians we have every right to remind her of her oath to administer justice fairly.

As a party which emanated from the struggle and aspirations of ordinary people of Ghana, we calling on our government to institute a public forum for people to present their accounts of the obvious administrative shortcomings, moral and pecuniary corruption in the justice system and act accordingly on the results of the forum, to give to ourselves and posterity a system of justice which keeps true to the constitutional requirements of the concept of justice originating and sustained by the people.

Our appeal for the government to institute public fora to hear at first hand, the views of ordinary Ghanaians on their experiences with the Judiciary would be a logical sequel to previous reports on corruption and bias in the Judiciary. Last year Her Lordship Georgina Woode launched one of such reports on Judicial Corruption Monitoring in Ghana by Integrity Initiative. Launching that report, on November 8, 2007 the CJ conceded that there is a considerable degree of corruption in the Judiciary and noted that the trend is no longer a matter of just perception. The CJ also commented, and I quote, “Corruption poses a huge threat to our legitimacy and limits rather severely our capacity to fulfil our constitutional mandate” {Daily Guide Nov 9 , 2007} so all that we are saying is not new to the judiciary.

Indeed the press statement issued last Friday and signed by Justices Akamba and Elizabeth Ankumah on behalf of Magistrates and High Court Judges is proof that the Judiciary itself welcomes a full public discourse on the Judiciary in Ghana.
Signed

Ade Coker
NDC Greater Accra Regional Chairman and Spokesperson of Regional Chairmen of the National Democratic Congress

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