Lawyer Yaw Oppong

Legal Practitioner Yaw Oppong, has expressed doubt that the former Attorney General, Dominc Ayine, is being called to the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council because of his criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision on the election petition.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story, Thursday, June 3, he said Dr Ayine’s choice of words in criticising the ruling, during a panel discussion, were harsh and completely out of order.

“I believe that if you give him (Dr Ayine) another opportunity, I am 100% certain he will not repeat what he said. None of the panel members uttered such harsh words. This is not a situation where one is being invited to the committee because one has criticised the decision of the court, I think it is the language,” Mr Oppong opined.

He stated that Mr Ayine being called to the disciplinary committee does not automatically mean that he is being punished for his utterances. However, the committee’s investigation will give parties concerned the opportunity to state their case, he added.

Mr Oppong’s comment comes after the Judicial Secretary petitioned the disciplinary committee of the GLC, to investigate Dr Dominic Ayine, who was part of the Legal Team of former President Mahama, during the 2020 Election Petition, over comments he allegedly made against the Supreme Court.

Dr Ayine, speaking during discussion on Presidential Election Petitions and their impact on Africa’s Democracy, organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Ghana, is said to have questioned the independence of the Judiciary due to the manner the Supreme Court adjudicated the election petition. 

Reacting to the invitation, Executive Director of CDD-Ghana said the hurling of Dr Ayine before the disciplinary committee over comments he made during an open dialogue, threatens the right to freedom of speech of every lawyer in the country.

According to Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, the act will also “impact negatively on both academic freedom and the freedom and ability of civil society to promote judicial accountability, including through projects like the Judicial Review series.”

However, Mr Oppong who was part of President Akufo-Addo’s Legal team during the 2020 election petition as well as part of the discussion on Top Story, said that if Dr Ayine’s invitation was because of his criticism of the judgement of the petition, other members of the panel who critiqued the ruling would have also been invited.

Citing the Republic Vs Mensa Thompson case, he stated that judges ought not to and do not say that the public cannot criticise their decision.

“Judges like any other group of human beings do make mistakes and should indeed ought to be criticised. At times some of us feel that our judgments are not criticized enough especially by the legal profession. I expect, however, that the language of criticism will be tempered and measured.”

“It is not often remembered that judges seen as very strong, are, in fact, the weakest members in the society. We received blows we cannot throw any, a factor to be taken into account when a member of the public is inclined to criticise us,” the Republic Vs Mensa Bonsu ruling reads.

Mr Oppong said that this ruling cancels out the opinion that the judges cannot be criticised but the language of criticism is also important.

“It is not even everything Dr. Ayine said that has become the subject of the invitation, he said a lot of things but it is an aspect that the authority picked,” he said adding that lawyers are free to criticise court judgments.