Wednesday, 29 March

Your future SC appointees may also be seen as ‘biased’ just as you perceive current ones – Justice Duose to Mahama

John Dramani Mahama

Retired Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Isaac Douse, has said there would be no security of justice and fairness at the Supreme Court if Mr John Mahama, should he become president again, decides to fill the highest court of the land with Justices perceived to have sympathies for his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) just as he has accused the current President of having done.

Admonishing former President Mahama against denigrating the Supreme Court any further, after he (Mr Mahama) recently said the apex court’s perceived hostile and politically biased decisions were a national security threat, Justice Duose said: “Time is like a stream: it flows”, adding: “In due course, those who he [Mr Mahama] perceives to be biased will go by attrition of time and they will no longer be there; and, then, at that time, those who are in the stream will be his people and if the same yardstick is being used against them, can we be safe?” 

“Because, Ghana is divided right through the middle – if you look at the results of the last election”, the retired judge pointed out on the Class Morning Show on Class91.3FM with host Kofi Oppong Asamoah. 

In his view, “there are some people who are worshipping the Supreme Court as it is today and there will be people who will worship his [Mahama’s] Supreme Court, if he manages to also pack the court, as he is alleging the court has been packed in favour of the current government, then we will not have security in terms of justice and fairness and fair play?” 

He said even though “it is good to complain”, that “should be about the end of it”. 

“I’m praying very hard that he [Mahama] will not take the steps that will also make people perceive his own appointees as such”, the retired Justice added. 

In his admonishment of Mr Mahama, Justice Duose said: “The Supreme Court is a very important body, to which all of us will refer from time to time; and, if we drag it in the mud too much, it would affect everybody as well”. 

He said the structuring of the Constitution makes it “very difficult, for any new government to reshuffle” the Justice appointed to the Bench, adding: “I’ll caution the ex-president to be very careful about some of these things”.

Justice Duose said Mr Mahama must be “very cautious in his pronouncements because what he perceives now, can also be done to whoever he deems to appoint in due course and, by all means, when he becomes president, he might have to appoint some people to the Supreme Court or to other courts”. 

He admitted: “I know that you need to be very courageous and make sure that if the person who appoints you is misbehaving, you can tell him in the face that he has misbehaved, but how many people in Ghana have that kind of courage? It’s very difficult to find people like that”.

Mahama Takes On Chief Justice And Supreme Court 

A few days ago, Mr Mahama said the image of Ghana’s judiciary is “broken” under the leadership of Justice Anin-Yeboah, and hoped a “new Chief Justice” leads an image-cleansing crusade in the future, since, in his view, the current Chief Justice cannot lead such a process.

Addressing a conference of lawyers of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Sunday, 28 August 2022, Mr Mahama bewailed that the judiciary has now become the butt of jokes, as a result of its biased rulings and decisions on cases with a political tinge.

Recently, he noted, “so badly has the image of our judiciary deteriorated that many of our citizenry openly make a mockery of our justice system and of our justices”.

“The phrase, ‘Go to court’ is, these days, is met with derisive laughter, instead of hope that one will truly get justice if he went to the court”, Mr Mahama explained.

He said: “If people are not poking fun about politics and inducements being used to sway the hand of justice in the lower courts, then it is poking fun and making statements about the 7-0 of the ‘Unanimous FC’ verdicts, which, mostly, involve cases of a political nature in our Supreme Court”.

“This is an unfortunate development”, he regretted, pointing out: “One of the scariest existential threats to any democracy is when citizens think their judiciary holds no value for them” or is of “no use to them, and this is the security threat that the national security apparatus tried to draw the attention of the nation to, recently but was poorly received by the President and his party”.

“It is scary because it threatens the peace and stability of our democracy and we must quickly correct this fast-spreading notion”, warned Mr Mahama.

He said it is a harbinger of danger.

“If care is not taken, we’ll get to a stage where people will have no qualms about taking the law into their own hands because they do not have the confidence that they can get any justice from the system”, he cautioned.

“There’s, therefore, the urgent need for the Ghanaian judiciary, to work to win the trust and confidence of the citizenry and erase the widely-held perception of hostility and political bias in legal proceedings at the highest court of the land”, he urged.

“Unfortunately”, Mr Mahama noted, “we have no hope that the current leadership of our Judiciary can lead such a process of change”.

“We can only hope that a new Chief Justice will lead the process to repair the broken image that our judiciary has acquired over the last few years”, he said.

This is not the first time the former President has lunged at the judiciary.

In March this year, he said: “We do have problems with the judiciary, I must say”, adding: “I think that it is necessary for some internal reforms to take place there”.

“It is necessary for the Chief Justice or whoever is responsible, to make some reforms”, Mr Mahama said when he addressed the US Chapter of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at Bentley University over the weekend.

Bemoaning how, in his view, “most of the governance institutions have been politicised”, Mr Mahama said: “I give the example of the Judiciary – It is only in Ghana that a Supreme Court will make a decision that a birth certificate is not proof of citizenship”.

“There are many such funny judgments that have been given”, he added.

“I remember at one time, our colleague, Professor Raymond Atuguba, said that from research he had done, judges turn to give their judgments in favour of the political party or leader that appointed them”. 

“He was subjected to such a whirlwind of indignation by the judiciary but if you bring it down to what is happening today, and you look at it and see who appointed who, you will find that there was some truth in the research.” 

“The thing is, our Constitution gives the security of tenure to judges. Once you have been appointed, you cannot be removed”.

“That is why we give security of tenure so that you will have the courage, no matter who appointed you, to give judgment according to your conscience. That is what our judges should do. They must rise to the occasion”, urged Mr Mahama.