Thursday, 18 April

Political party affiliation not a requirement for bench appointments – GBA president

Ghana Bar Association (GBA) president, Yaw Acheampong Boafo

Ghana Bar Association (GBA) president, Yaw Acheampong Boafo, has said judges are not appointed based on their political party colouring.

Speaking at the Ghana Bar Conference in Cape Coast, Mr Boafo said: "It is instructive to state that same as the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, where nominations are made by three parties, namely the government, represented by the Attorney General, the Judiciary, and the Bar, appointments to lower courts bench and high court are pursuant to advertisements in the dailies inviting persons qualified to apply", he explained.

Mr Boafo, who is a member of the Appointment Committee of the Judicial Council, noted: "There is never a requirement that an applicant has to show his political affiliation".

A few weeks ago, former President John Mahama accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of packing the courts with dozens of pro-New Patriotic Party judges so as to, allegedly, avoid accountability after he exits office.

Addressing the closing ceremony of the 3rd Annual Lawyers Conference of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Saturday, 2 September 2023, Mr. Mahama said: "Currently, the judiciary is packed with NPP-inclined judges because this government has carried out a deliberate policy of putting their people onto the bench".

“He [Akufo-Addo] has appointed the biggest number of judges onto the bench, it is more than 80 towards 100 and counting", the flagbearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress said.

Mr Mahama added: "You can see what the current president has done". 

"He has packed the court, and we know they have packed the court because they want to avoid accountability after they have left office", he said.

Mr Mahama, thus, urged NDC legal practitioners to aim at serving on the bench to balance the political scale of the judiciary.

"So, I encourage some of you to look at careers on the bench so that we can balance out what the current situation is", he said, adding: "We must be prepared as NDC legal persons to also go onto the bench so that we can balance out the judiciary".

However, addressing the Ghana Bar Conference at the University of Cape Coast, President Akufo-Addo condemned Mr Mahama's statement.

He took pains to explain the processes used in appointing judges, stressing: "I have gone into this matter in detail because of a new issue which has been introduced into our public discourse by no less a public figure than the fourth president of the fourth republic, John Dramani Mahama, who has told the world that I have packed the courts with so-called NPP judges and that one of the key purposes a putative NDC victory in 2024 will be to enable him to balance the courts with so-called NDC judges".

"Not only are these concepts new in our public discourse but they are also extremely dangerous and represent the brazen attack on the independence of the judiciary by allegedly responsible politicians".