New CJ to pursue measures to protect integrity of judiciary
Newly sworn-in Chief Justice (CJ) Sophia Akuffo has promised to pursue measures which will protect the integrity of the judiciary in order to shore up its image.
Some 34 superior court judges were caught on camera taking bribes and extorting money from litigants in an investigative report by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in 2015.
Over 100 officials of the Judicial Service were also cited in the expose that took more than two years to execute.
Ace journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas stealthily videotaped and recorded conversations with some of the judges after he posed as an agent of a suspect who was standing trial.
Some high profile judges including, Justice John Ajet-Nassam, a High Court Judge, who freed Alfred Agbesi Woyome in the controversial Gh¢51 million judgment debt scandal, were among those cited in the corruption scandal.
The investigative piece titled ‘Ghana in the Eyes of God – Epic of Injustice’, caused the dismissal and sanctioning of some of those involved by the judiciary.
Giving remarks after her swearing in as the country's 13 Chief Justice at the State House in Accra Monday, Justice Akuffo said she will continue with reforms initiated by her predecessor, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood to improve on the integrity of the judiciary.
Regarding purging the image of the judiciary which has never been the same after the Anas expose, Justice Akufo who spoke about her passion for integrity in the judiciary emphasized on her desire to ensure delivery of quality justice, development and stability of the country and will strive to demonstrate that throughout her tenure.
"In doing this I will count on the support and cooperation of the other arms of government...the judiciary has diligently worked for and attained a large measure of independence. This will is, however, made incomplete by the lack of financial independence," she observed.
She said this is one of the objectives she would like to achieve during her tenure.
"The vetting process brought into perspective several matters about the judiciary which the good people of Ghana has concerns. These includes; the integrity of the judiciary, political and other influences on the judiciary, conditions of service of judges and magistrates, the infrastructure of the judiciary service i.e courtrooms and residences.
"Delays in justice delivery, loss of confidence, the justice system and other related issues of mob action, the conduct of the members of the Bar, legal education in Ghana. These are major issues I would address," he said.
She called for the support of all citizens and institutions in the country.
The second female CJ of the country noted a breakdown of the judicial system would signal mayhem in the country, if steps are not taken to improve the confidence of the citizens in the judiciary.
The Supreme Court Judge used the opportunity to thank the country's three former presidents for their numerous contributions, which have helped deepen democracy.
She showered praises on former President Jerry John Rawlings for believing in her which saw her appointment as a Supreme Court judge. “At a time when I have not conceived or envisaged a life on the bench. He might have seen in me some I was yet to see,” she said.
The 67-year-old judge also thanked ex-president John Agyekum Kufour for nominating her to serve on the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights where she helped to resolve some of the human rights cases in the continent.
Thanks to the efforts and support of the immediate past president, John Dramani Mahama, she spoke of how he made her time as President of the African Court a success, with the numerous supports when he chaired the African Union.
She also thanked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for considering her for the office of CJ as well as acknowledging the enormous role the Council of State and Parliament played in her appointment.
Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Abubakar Ibrahim |[email protected]