LINSOD fires back Akufo-Addo, AG over attack on Mahama

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LINSOD
LINSOD

LAWYERS IN SEARCH OF DEMOCRACY (LINSOD) strongly condemns the what they termed as the reprehensible use of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) conference platform by President Nana Akufo-Addo and the Attorney General to castigate John Dramani Mahama and campaign for the NPP’s reelection in 2024.

The GBA conference is a professional platform for lawyers to discuss and exchange ideas on issues affecting the legal profession and the rule of law in Ghana. It is not an arena for politicians to campaign or engage in personal attacks against their opponents, they stated in over two pages press release.

LINSOD believes that the actions by President Akufo-Addo and the Attorney General undermine the integrity of the GBA conference and pose a threat to the independence of the legal profession in Ghana.

It is important that our political leaders respect the boundaries between their roles as politicians and the role of professional associations such as the GBA, they added.

In the statement, LINSOD calls on the GBA and all stakeholders in the legal profession to remain vigilant in defending the independence and integrity of the legal profession in Ghana.

READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW.

STATEMENT OF LAWYERS IN SEARCH OF DEMOCRACY (LINSOD) ON THE REPREHENSIBLE USE OF THE GHANA BAR ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE AS PLATFORM FOR PRESIDENT NANA AKUFO ADDO AND ATTORNEY GENERAL TO CASTIGATE H. E. JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA AND CAMPAIGN FOR NPP’S REELECTION IN 2024

“Lawyers in Search of Democracy (LINSOD),” as the name depicts, is a group of like-minded Ghanaian lawyers, who are committed to playing a major role in advancing the frontiers of true democratic practice in Ghana. To that effect, LINSOD operates as a think-tank or a Civil Society Organization, mainly in the legal sector, and concerns itself with monitoring the conduct of Government and state institutions in relation to the Rule of Law and good governance in Ghana. Our goal is to work towards entrenching true democracy in Ghana, and that requires of us to be watchful and comment on topical governance subjects that have the tendency to negatively affect our democratic practice.

We are presently very concerned about the use of the ongoing Ghana Bar Association Conference of 2023 as a political platform for President Nana Akufo Addo and the Attorney General, Honourable Godfred Dame to castigate the leader of the largest opposition party in Ghana, and campaign for NPP’s reelection in the 2024 general election. One would have expected the Ghana Bar Association to instead use its august platform to drive home the overriding demand of Ghanaians of all walks, on the Electoral Commission, for instance, to carry out their intended limited registration of voters, which is scheduled to start today, Tuesday, September 12th, 2023 in a manner that shall not disenfranchise any qualified Ghanaian, who is willing and ready to register as a voter.

It is the understanding of all Ghanaians that the manner in which the Electoral Commission is proceeding with the limited registration exercise shall result in voter suppression, and many including revered traditional leaders, but except the Ghana Bar Association, have called on the EC to reconsider its intransigent position, which is against the expectations of the most important stakeholders in our elections, being the political parties in Ghana.

The GBA does not consider it important to add its voice on this subject even when it is clear that all opposition political parties and some individual citizens of Ghana have actually filed various lawsuits and applications for interlocutory injunction to restrain the Commission from proceeding with the unpopular exercise, and the Electoral Commission has indeed, been served with those court processes, and yet is proceeding with impunity.

One would have also expected the Ghana Bar Association to be concerned with the infringement─by the Ghana police and the courts─on the fundamental rights of citizens to demonstrate freely and express their disgust at how state institutions are being run under the reign of President Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia, and the gross incompetence and corruption in government and public institutions. It is notable that under Nana Akufo Addo’s administration it is extremely difficult for the opposition, and people with dissenting opinions to demonstrate openly against the government.

The police are quick to run to court with an application for injunction against people who wish to demonstrate, and the courts are too willing to grant such applications to stop demonstrations as the President would wish. It is also striking that under President Nana Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia, eight innocent Ghanaians were murdered in cold blood during the 2020 general elections, and till this day, nobody has been held accountable, and the President of Ghana is unbothered. If the Ghana Bar Association is interested in helping our democracy to develop better, the institution would have devoted some time to these issues.

Turning to some of the volatile comments of the President of the Republic at the Bar Conference, which have no value at all for the welfare and development of the Ghanaian lawyer, we cannot help but accuse the Ghana Bar Association of reducing the conference to a NPP political conference, where a national platform is handed freely to a partisan President of the nation to castigate his political opponent.

This is quite shameful. In his first attack on H. E. John Dramani Mahama, President Nana Akufo Addo made an unnecessary capital of the former’s allegation that the courts have been packed with partisan judges, and there is the need for him to balance the bench with judges from the other major political party if he becomes the President of the country.

As a citizen of Ghana, H. E. John Dramani Mahama has every right to make observations about appointments to the judiciary, and express his opinion on them without fear. Also, as the leader of a major political party in Ghana, H. E. John Dramani Mahama has a responsibility to his followers to state their beliefs and perceptions of the judiciary in very clear terms to the general public. If from these backgrounds, H. E. John Mahama states that the courts have been packed with partisan judges and there is the need for balancing that if he wins power, we do no find anything wrong with his position, and we shall always defend his right to express his beliefs freely without fear or favour.
We have noted that President Akufo Addo did suggest that in the United States, federal judges are appointed to the bench on the basis of their political affiliation.

Although we know that it is not exactly the case, but instead, they are appointed on the bases of their fundamental or judicial philosophies of the direction the country must move towards, we do not have such stark differences in ideologies and philosophies here in Ghana. It does not mean that in appointing judges to the bench in Ghana, the appointing authorities may not, or do not have certain considerations, some of which may be partisan. We would not say much more on this, but to emphasize that we find no basis for President Nana Akufo Addo to chastise H. E. John Mahama for his statement on this subject.

We would rather encourage H.E. the former President and all other leaders of political parties in Ghana to feel free to express their views on these pertinent national issues, which affect our governance system. Our democracy shall improve better if they speak out more boldly.

President Nana Akufo Addo also attacked the former President and referred to him as “Government official 1” as he tried to extricate himself from the “Clearing Agent” label, which he has been bestowed on him by the people of Ghana. This attitude of President Nana Addo appeared to have been out of frustration, and was petty, to say the least. “Government Official 1” was associated with a supposed transaction involving the acquisition of an airbus for the Ghana during the reign of the late President Mills and John Mahama. There was no investigation or conclusive investigation on the facts. Indeed, President Nana Akufo Addo did state correctly that the matter was unresolved, and yet, he referred to former President Mahama as “Government official 1” in an attempt to equalize the reference to him (President Akufo Addo) as a “clearing agent.”

The President claimed that the first Special Prosecutor, Mr. Martin Amidu, who was appointed by him was the one that had referred to the former President Mahama as “Government Official 1” in an unresolved scandal. Interestingly, however, the same Mr. Martin Amidu had described President Akufo Addo as the “mother serpent of corruption” when out of his exasperation, resulting from the corrupt practices and repeated attempts by the President and some of his senior officials to influence his duties, he tendered his resignation as the first Special Prosecutor.

We hereby denounce the Ghana Bar Association for allowing its annual conference to be used as a political gathering for the NPP, where a national platform was provided for President Nana Akufo Addo to brush down the leader of the largest opposition party in Ghana, and to campaign for the NPP. We equally denounce President Nana Akufo Addo for being reckless in using the conference as a political rally ground. We also condemn the Honourable Attorney General for pronouncing in his speech that the next President of Ghana shall be an economist. Ghanaians are watching the GBA closely, and we hope they are taking note.

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