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Akufo-Addo To Appoint Another CJ?
Akufo-Addo To Appoint Another CJ?

It is now emerging that the newly appointed but yet-to-be approved Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Her Ladyship, Sophia Akufo, a cousin to President Akufo Addo, is a stop gap head of the country’s judiciary.

Research conducted by a prolific writer cum social commentator, Ohenenana Obonti Krow, reveals the newly appointed Chief Justice to replace current CJ, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood, will only hold the fort for just 3 years by which time she would have reached the mandatory retiring age of 70.

Article 154(2) (a) of the 1992 constitution, provides that a Justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal shall vacate his/her office “on attaining the age of seventy.” Upon attaining the retiring age, article 145 (4) provides that a Justice of the Superior Court “may continue in office for a period of not exceeding six months after attaining that age.”

Justice Sophia Akuffo is presently 67, and will have her tenure before the end of 2020. When this happens, according to the researcher, it will then allow for the appointment of a new and probably younger New Patriotic Party inclined Chief Justice by President Akufo Addo ahead of election 2020 and subsequent polls.

While Justice William Atuguba is the most senior on the bench of the apex court of the land, many, particularly, NPP media affiliates, had tipped Justice Dotse to fill the yet-to-be vacant post of the 4th most powerful position.

However, President Akufo-Addo surprised many when he settled on his cousin, Justice Sophia Akufo as replacer of Justice Wood, who is the President’s Cousin’s (Atta Akyea) sister-in-law.

Even though many Ghanaians, including the Minority in Parliament have hailed Justice Sophia Akuffo as an equally qualified and competent Justice of the Supreme Court, many are equally citing the growing nepotism in the Akufo Addo-led NPP government.

But, Mr Obonti Krow has provided new dimensions to the debate in the president’s appointment of her cousin as the new CJ of Ghana.

Read below Mr Krow's analysis as captured by The aL-hAJJ

The new Chief Justice (Justice Sophia Akuffo) will end her tenure as the Republic's CJ before we go for the next Presidential election, meaning, the current President will have the opportunity of appointing the next Chief Justice.

So, the question is, why did the President appoint someone who has few years left to retire? Is it another clever agenda to elect another young CJ after Madam Akuffo's retirement to stay in office for a longer period? President Kufour settled on Mrs Justice Georgina Wood when she was 60 years.

Her appointment generated serious tension in the judiciary, senior judges at the Supreme Court and other senior lawyers protested against the President's failure to adhere to the normal procedure.

Soon after the death of Justice Acquah, President Kufour himself appointed Justice Francios Kpegah as acting CJ. The usual speculation about who was going to be appointed the substantive CJ dominated media discussions and names like Justice Tawiah Modibo Ocean and Professor Samuel Dartey Baah were mentioned in all discussions.

The President swerved Ghanaians by not following the normal convention for appointing CJs which were based on seniority at the bench, and appointed Georgina Wood. She was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Kufour on 12 November 2002 and that appointment was strategically made in connection with the Fast Track Review Case (The Tsikata case) and she was appointed alongside Late Justice Afreh.

The fear and agitations expressed by the NDC and other lawyers and section of the public were justified by some of Justice Georgina Wood's own decisions including granting of permission for a court to sit on an election dispute on a statutory national public holiday in the 2008 election. Under the constitution, it is only the President that can grant a waiver for anybody to go to work. Madam Georgina Wood and the petitioners did not produce or publish an executive instrument to support their action yet, she granted permission for the court to hear election dispute.

We all heard what Atta Akyea said on the tape when he and other lawyers held clandestine meetings to discuss how he could place an injunction on the declaration of the 2008 election and the confidence they reposed in the CJ. A number of petition letters to revoke her appointment by some senior lawyers and judges were forwarded to Professor Mills but she was allowed to serve her term.
Justice Sophia Akuffo will surely retire under the current administration's tenure which means the current President per the powers conferred on him by the constitution, shall appoint the next CJ after Justice Akuffo a scenario we must bother our minds (with) about. Is the current appointment a strategic move to finally appoint a younger CJ after Madam Akuffo who is more inclined to the philosophy of the President and his party?

This and other questions are legitimate questions. The constitution does not mention seniority at the bench as a constitutional requirement when appointing a CJ and the President in appointing the next CJ may chose to appoint a younger lawyer or a judge who will occupy the CJ position for a longer period.

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