(A GNA Feature By Francis Ameyibor)
Accra, Oct. 4, GNA - With the sound of the trumpet, reminiscent of biblical story of the triumphant second coming of Jesus Christ, a bee of Judges snail into The Cathedral Church of The Most Holy Trinity in Accra on Saturday to attend the 46th Legal Year Service. The Chief Justice, Mr Justice Gorge Kingsley Acquah lead the Law Lords of the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and the High Courts who were wrapped in red, black and white scarlet rob. The rob that is normally worn during ceremonial occasions and the trail of serous criminal offences such as treason was combined with a long wig.
Closely at the heels of the learned men was the hierarchy of the Church lead by The Right Reverend Dr Justice O. Akrofi, Bishop of Accra and his able lieutenants including the Very Rev, Jehoshaphat A. Ocquaye, Rev. Canon Emmanuel A. Armah, and the former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, The Very Rev. Anthony A. Beeko. The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Papa Owusu Ankomah and the Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General Ms Gloria Akuffo and a cross section of the general public including Journalists were in attendance. The procession, which lasted for almost 30 minutes, ended with the singing of the first verse of the National Anthem. Whilst the congregation took their seats, the Cathedral Choir and the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary echoed the harmonious Psalm 22 Leatatus sum "I was glad when they said unto me: we will go into the house of the Lord ....."
The Dean, the Very Rev., Ocquaye called the service to order thus "Brethren, we are met this day in the Cathedral Church, that is the Most Holy Trinity to seek the Blessing of Almighty God upon the Administration of Justice within this land," The First Bible reading (Proverbs 14: 27 - 34 ) was done by the Chief Justice, the second (Mathew 5 : 11 - 16) by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General whilst the President of the Ghana Bar Association read the third (II Corinthians 3 : 1 - 6). Explaining the significance of the Legal Year to the GNA, Mr Majahid Mohamed Ali, former Director of Protocol, Judicial Service, said the legal year celebration originated from the colonial days.
Mr Ali said judges during that period went on vacation and when they returned a special church services was organized to instil the fear of God into new lawyers that were to be ushered into the administration of justice. The old judges were not left out in the process as they were made to renew their fate in the administration of justice and pledge to uphold the tenants of the rule of law. The Legal Services has three Vacation periods - At Christmas; from December 24 to January 6th, at Easter from the Tuesday immediately following the Easter Monday and ending on the Saturday immediately following and the Long Vacation from August 1st to September 30th.
This year's colourful ceremony was nearly marred by poor sitting arrangement. The Acting Ga Manste Nii Adotey Obour and his entourage refused to sit at the original place allotted to them in the midst of the congregation and insisted that the Ga Chiefs should be accorded the due respect by allotting a place at the front row. This generated into argument between the Chief, the Church Leadership and the Judicial Protocol for almost 20 minutes. Eventually the Chief left the Church just before the start of proceedings. Papa Owusu Ankomah also in an interview with GNA urged Judges, Lawyers and the entire judiciary to support the initiatives of the Chief Justice to purge the system of corruption.
He said: "The Chief Justice's noble initiatives to reform the system of adjudication of justice, transformation of the judiciary and maintenance of high standard of professionalism among judges is laudable." The Chief Justice, Mr Justice Acquah warned corrupt judges, "that it would be much better for Ghana to have no judiciary at all than be saddled with a corrupt one". "I will spare no effort in the fight against corruption. One can not sit on the fence, you are either with me or against me and those who are against me in this regard do so at their own peril," he said.
Mr Justice Acquah: "At the risk of repetition, I want to warn that my administration and corruption can never co-exist... I will, therefore, fight corruption whenever it is found in the Judiciary". In a sermon under the theme, "Righteousness Exalt a Nation," Rev Beeko, blamed the elite class of the society for the woes of the nation, saying "it is the educated people who manage the affairs of the country, if the country is not achieving its goal, we must blame educated people."
Which individuals embezzle the millions and billions of cedis we hear about, which individual take money from our country and save it abroad, is it illiterate, he asked. Clearly, the Judges have started the Legal Year celebration with a Church service, to invoke God's presence in the discharge of their duties. However, it would be equally important, if all and sundry practically support the Lords of Law to ensure social justice and the rule of law for national development.
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