At a recent University of Ghana-hosted Alumni Lecture Series themed “Questing for Excellence,” Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo was widely alleged to have asserted that quality control was the first and foremost objective of the Ghana Legal Council (GLC), the official body that is charged with regulating the practice of the legal profession in the country (See “We Need Good Lawyers, Not Lots of Lawyers – Chief Justice Hits Back” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 10/18/19). There can be no gainsaying the fact that the production of good lawyers in the country will redound to the great benefit of the country. But even before we deal with the critical question of just how does one determine the characteristics or the hallmarks of “good lawyering,” we need to first deal with the equally critical question of both the history or tradition of having the substantive Chief Justice also hold the cardinal office of Chairman / Chairperson of the Ghana Legal Council.
We ask the latter question because it well appears that the general quality of judicial practice in the country, primarily predicated on recent verdicts in highly controversial political and moral issues handed down by the nation’s jurists, especially at the superior and supreme bench levels, left much to be desired. On the foregoing count, we have in mind the Akufo-Addo-led Election 2012 Presidential Election Petition that indelibly made Ghana the veritable laughingstock of both the African continent and the global community at large. We also have in mind the Zanetor Rawlings and the Klottey-Korle Constituency impasse, which was wisely and competently handled by an Accra High Court Judge but was subsequently scandalously overridden and seemingly deliberately bungled by some members of the Supreme Court of Ghana in favor of the incontrovertible loser. Then, of course, there are also such landmark cases as that which involved the brutal midnight acid-dousing assassination of Mr. Adams Mahama, then the Upper-East Regional Chairman of the then-opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), in which Mr. Gregory Afoko, the younger brother of the dismissed National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Mr. Paul A. Afoko, was charged as the prime suspect, and whose scandalous judicial football of a trial has been raging for the better part of about four years, presently, and still counting.
In other words, what we clearly see here is a patently dysfunctional judicial system which may have little to absolutely nothing to do with quality control, in terms of how many law candidates are admitted or sworn to practice law in the country annually. In short, there is clearly something systemically wrong with the judicial system itself, which has absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with the academic performance or aptitude of the number of candidates admitted to the bar or admitted by the various law schools in the country every year. It is very clear that even if the Ghana Legal Council is to continue to administer the law school entrance examinations and/or the bar entrance examination, that somebody other than the Chief Justice, generically speaking, ought to be named as Chairman or Chairperson of the Ghana Legal Council, while the Chief Justice fully concentrated his/her attention on the judiciary, in hopes of bringing the latter institution up to par with best judicial practices, as these pertain to the most advanced and efficient judicial systems in the world.
It is quite clear that our politicians have done more than their utmost depraved to hobble or seriously undermine both the credibility and the efficient functioning of our judicial system. And it will take quite a lot of progressive and visionary leadership to restore public confidence in our judiciary, at least to the level at which it was before the so-called Rawlings Revolution, that is, the pre-1979 era, which is incontrovertibly when the proverbial rot began to set in. We could, of course, heatedly debate the latter observation in future installments on this subject.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
October 20, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.