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The Lessons Of History

Feature Article The Lessons Of History
SUN, 16 JUN 2024 LISTEN

I wonder how any of those who listened to our President’s speech during the commissioning of The Law House – the new complex of offices that accommodate the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and other legal establishments – were familiar with the very interesting anecdote he related which (he said) his father, President Edward Akufo-Addo, had passed down to him, Nana Akufo-Addo.

The story was that in 1961, the powerful Minister for Presidential Affairs in the Government of President Kwame Nkrumah “played a crucial role in establishing a Special Criminal Court intended to expedite trials for national and political offences under President Kwame Nkrumah’s administration. This court was seen as a tool to swiftly address threats to national security and consolidate power.

“Ironically, in 1963, Tawia Adamafio found himself as one of the first defendants before this very court, accused of treason, in connection with the Kulungugu bomb attack aimed at President Nkrumah.” The President went on: “Despite the court’s composition of judges appointed by Nkrumah, which seemed to doom Adamafio’s fate, the judges meticulously examined the evidence and found Adamafio and his co-accused innocent.”

However, President Nkrumah was dissatisfied with the judgment of the three judges – Sir Arku Korsah (Chief Justice), Mr. Justice Edward Akufo-Addo and Mr. Justice W. Van Lare. Nkrumah promptly sacked all three judges and found a new Chief Justice, Mr. Sarkodee-Adoo, who found Adamafio and Co. guilty of the offences with which they had been charged.

President Akufo-Addo smiled as he remembered: “Following his release (from prison) after the 1966 coup that ended the First Republic, Adamafio visited my father (Edward Akufo-Addo) to express his gratitude. He acknowledged that his life had been saved by the court’s adherence to the rule of law.

Mr. Edward Akufo-Addo, however, refrained from mentioning Adamafio’s earlier insistence (during his advocacy of the establishment of the Special Criminal Court) on that court should 'dispense justice, not law.'” This episode, President Akufo-Addo emphasised, “exemplifies how the rule of law stands as the best protection of individual liberty, regardless of the political climate.”

The President told his audience that in 1961, Tawia Adamafio, then one of the most powerful of Dr. Nkrumah’s ministers, took a bill to Parliament for passage into law. When passed, the law provided for the establishment of special courts, over and above the normal superior courts of judicature that dispense justice to the people of Ghana. Tawia Adamafio (the President recalled) told Parliament that the new law was meant to safeguard national security.

I think the President’s speech supports my view expressed in my article entitled 'Are We Operating A Guilty With Explanation Type Of Justice?' published last week. You see, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice has been accused of practices that possibly infringe the rules of his profession. So much so that the judge trying a case he was prosecuting advised him to “recuse” himself from the case.

This is an unprecedented happening, as far as my limited knowledge of legal affairs goes. The matter should not be ignored in the way embarrassed Ghanaian officials simply IGNORE certain issues. For one day, ANYONE could find himself or herself in the position in which Tawia Adamafio found himself in 1963. If that happened and witnesses were interfered with, who would be safe?

By CAMERON DUODU

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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