The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has described the death of the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Kingsley George Acquah, as a great loss to the Judiciary and the administration of justice in the country.
The President of the GBA, Mr Kwami Tetteh, said the late Chief Justice would be remembered for the very strong reform system which he initiated and pursued vigorously until his death in the early hours of Sunday.
Mr Tetteh, who was expressing his sympathy in a telephone interview with the Daily Graphic, said, “I am a witness to his efforts to introduce new infrastructure in the Judiciary, especially the introduction of the mechanised courts (Fast Track) and commercial courts.
“He had a big plan behind the Cocoa Affairs courts, and the ongoing construction of an administrative edifice behind the main Supreme Court building bears testimony to his vision. But we hope that by the next legal year that project would be ready,” Mr Tetteh said.
The GBA President further said the late Chief Justice brought discipline to bear on the Judiciary and expressed the hope that his successor would continue what Justice Acquah started.
He extended his sympathy and condolences and those of the GBA to the family of the late Chief Justice and the Judicial Service.
Mr Thomas Nuako Ward-Brew, leader of the Bar Association of Ghana (BAG), also expressed shock at the death of the Chief Justice, whom he described as a hall mate at the Commonwealth Hall of the University of Ghana.
According to him, Justice Acquah was the only locally-trained Ghanaian Chief Justice, adding that he proved his capability in every aspect of his work, including the number of reforms he embarked upon to enhance the image of the Judiciary.
He, however, said the death of Chief Justices in the country was taking some dimension and it was about time that the mystery surrounding such 'strange deaths' was exorcised.
Asked to explain further, Mr Ward-Brew, who is also the leader of the Democratic People's Party (DPP), stated that rumours about in-fighting relating to who should be appointed a Chief Justice were rife, a situation he described as “unhappy”.
Meanwhile, the scene at the Cocoa Affairs courts and on the Supreme Court premises in Accra yesterday was solemn as majority of the workers there would not even want to sit.
No official reasons were assigned but indications were that it was to show respect to the head of the Judiciary. Court clerks only adjourned cases.
Some people gathered in small groups to discuss the sad story while a few of the staff were seen wearing red ribbons.
Justice Acquah died at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra at 1.00 a.m. on Sunday.
He was 65 and Ghana's 11th Chief Justice after independence, having been appointed Chief Justice on July 4, 2003 to succeed Mr Justice Wiredu.
The cause of death was not immediately disclosed but he was believed to have died from cancer.
The Chief Justice, who was taken ill about two years ago, was flown abroad on a number of occasions for medical treatment and resumed work before his health conditions deteriorated again.
He was flown down from the United States of America (USA) about three days ago and was on admission at the 37 Military Hospital.
Story by Stephen Sah