A Special church service to usher in the 51st Legal Year has been held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Accra with a call on members of the Judicial Service and the Bar to be guided by truth and justice in the discharge of their duties.
The Most Reverend John Setamu, the Archbishop of York, who made the call in a sermon to mark the day, said it behoved members of the “noble profession” to always discharge their duties without fear or favour to enable them to maintain the dignity and trust reposed in the profession.
The new legal year is on the theme “Access to justice: Consolidating judicial accountability and integrity” and is expected to be full of exciting activities, particularly as Ghanaians prepare to go to the polls in December to elect a new President and members of the legislature.
The ceremony, which was beamed live on national television and graced by the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, first began with a colourful procession of all the Justices of the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court followed by those in the High Court, Circuit Courts, Tribunal Chairmen and the District Magistrates before the clergy.
Most Reverend Setamu, the second in command of the Anglican Church world-wide after the Archbishop of Canterbury, admitted that the profession was a challenging one but noted that it was necessary for the Judiciary to ensure that it was always guided by the principles as per the scriptures and deliver justice at all times.
He said it was necessary for them to show love and be religious without compromising their positions when it came to the interpretation of the law.
The Most Reverend Setamu said cases were brought before them because the truth needed to prevail and it was up to them to ensure that justice prevailed without fear or favour.
In a goodwill message, as captured in the ceremonial brochure, Mrs Wood said the theme underscored the intention of the Judiciary to further entrench efforts at contributing to a just and democratic society.
“We do already have in place systems which ensure accountability and transparency at even the highest levels of the courts structure; the duty to give reasons, the appellate and review systems, as well as the systems for complaints are all recognised methods of accountability,” she said.
Mrs Wood expressed the hope that the service would deepen these democratic values through the pursuit of accountability and integrity in enhancing initiatives.
“As we prepare for the December 2008 national elections, it has become increasingly clear that a truly impartial and independent, effective judiciary is sine qua non for national peace and stability,” she said.
Mrs Wood noted that a judiciary which willingly subjects itself to the principles of accountability, transparency and the highest judicial integrity has not much difficulty winning the respect, trust and confidence of the people it sought to serve.
To that end, she expressed the hope that “each one of us all, in our private and official capacities, will contribute to peaceful, free and fair elections”.
The Reverend Dr Justice Offei Akrofi, Primate and Archbishop of West Africa and Bishop of the Anglican Church in Accra, said prayers for the President and his Vice, the Members of the Council of State, Ministers of State, the Judiciary, Members of Parliament and all Ghanaians for a peaceful elections.
Also present at the ceremony, which lasted a little over two hours, were the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Ebenezer Sakyi Hughes and his wife, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Mr Joe Ghartey.
Early on, Mrs Wood, Mr Ghartey and Mr Benson Nutsukpui, acting President of the Ghana Bar Association, did the first, second and third scripture readings respectively.