President Nana Akufo-Addo has rejected a request by a group calling itself the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) to suspend the Chief Justice (CJ), Kwasi Anin-Yeboah from office, describing it as premature.
The group with virtually no known members but has one Mensah Thompson as its Executive Director, had sent a petition late last month to the President asking him to invoke Article 146 of the Constitution for the removal of the Chief Justice on allegations of wrongdoing in a supposed $5 million bribery claim levelled against the CJ by a lawyer called Kwasi Afrifa.
In a response dated August 2, 2021 and copied to the Vice President and the Chief of Staff, Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante expressed reservation why he said “within minutes of picking up our letter dated 26th July, 2021 with reference number OPS307/21/843 from the Office of the President, you caused it to be circulated on social media,” saying “we consider such behaviour highly irresponsible and ill-advised.”
That, he said, was because “per article 146 (8) of the Constitution, all proceedings under Article 146 shall be held in camera,” a provision according to him, the Supreme Court has interpreted to include the petition and all incidental papers.
The statement therefore asked Mensah Thompson and his ASEPA group not be only be mindful that the processes are confidential, but be guided accordingly so as not to be in contempt of the Supreme Court.
The statement also insisted that the correspondence from the office of the President did not fall short of providing any vital information as Mensah Thompson alleged in his letter under reference and that, “in accordance with law, the President, in consultation with the Council of State, must determine whether or not the petition you submitted, invoking Article 146 (6) proceedings against the Chief Justice, discloses a prima facie case.”
“It is only when such a determination is made in the affirmative that the President will be required to proceed with appointing a committee, again in consultation with the Council of State, to inquire into the petition,” the statement explained.
So far, the President's Executive Secretary said the President has commenced the consultation process, which according to the correct position of the law, begins with a prima facie determination.
In that regard, Secretary to the President noted with emphasis “we are not aware of any law, rule or practice that requires a petitioner to be furnished with what you describe as vital information, and therefore, it could not have been contemplated that the information you requested in your letter would have been made available to you in any event.”
Instead, the statement indicated that “in our view, having submitted the petition, nothing more is required of you in the matter to warrant any reports being made to you, further to our acknowledgement of receipt.”
It is for this reason, the statement described Mensah Thompson and ASEPA's request for the suspension of the Chief Justice pursuant to Article 146 (10) as premature, as there has not been any appointment of a committee to inquire into the petition they submitted.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu