“Matters Arising” is a trite phrase of epidemic proportions that clutters much of the literary fare of the Ghanaian media letter-writer and Ghanaian journalism in general. It is a phrase that turns me off anytime I come across it while perusing the media headlines and deciding which news stories and articles to click and read.
To be honest with you, my dear reader, I almost did not read the quite well-written and presented disquisition captioned “Montie Trio: Matters Arising Out of Supreme Court Ruling,” by Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare (See Opinions Column, Ghanaweb.com 8/8/16).
In the main, the author argues trenchantly, albeit erroneously, that during the 4 years that Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood (née Lutterodt) has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, the Apex Court (the capitalization of the adjectival-pronoun of “Apex Court” is purely stylistic) has used the scourge of judicial contempt more than the three chief justices that preceded the first female chief justice of the Court. Well, the preceding characterization of the tenure of Chief Justice Wood is obviously wrong because Mrs. Wood has been presiding over the Apex Court for nearly a decade now; and so one gets the quite reasonable impression that Prof. Asare either has an irrepressible grudge or animus against Her Ladyship, and one that keeps coloring up his otherwise dispassionate analyses of Supreme Court decisions and verdicts with which he has found himself in virulent dissension.
The judicial predecessors of Chief Justice Wood in question here are Messrs. Abban, Wiredu and Acquah. Other than Justice Abban, who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana for some 8 years, both Justices Wiredu and Acquah, respectively, served as “Presidents” of the Supreme Court of Ghana for 3 and 4 years. The problem that one has reading the hermetically clinical dissertation of “Matters Arising,” by Prof. Asare, is that the author unrealistically divorces the atmosphere and sociopolitical climate, or context, in which each of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana assumed the leadership reins of the Apex Court. For instance, the author woefully fails to take into imperative account the fact that National Democratic Congress (NDC) governments and their cognate antecedent, the Rawlings-led Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), have an unenviable track-record of prosecuting a morally invidious and politically regressive agenda of judicial intimidation, nullification and assassination, not to speak of the selective scandalizing of the superior courts in general.
We all know, for instance, that it was President John Dramani Mahama who covertly colluded with Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the renowned investigative journalist and lawyer, to “scandalize” the judiciary in recent memory, and not the relatively more politically liberal and democratically savvy President John Agyekum-Kufuor and the latter’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) government. Now, we could quibble over questions of which of the governments of Ghana’s two major political parties has done more to effectively stem the unsavory tide of corruption among the three traditional branches of government, namely, the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature. Then, we have also had the Mills-led government of the National Democratic Congress that sponsored two of its then-junior cabinet appointees, namely, Messrs. Edward Omane-Boamah and Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa to cavalierly and luridly thumb their noses at both the institution and membership of the highest court of the land and get generously rewarded for their criminal mischief.
The author of “Matters Arising” also curiously blames the Rawlings-Tsikata-fangled People’s Tribunals and the People’s Courts’ institutionalization of “Judicial Tyranny” and summary justice on the non-military or civilian-constituted traditional judiciary. But, of course, those of us avid students of Ghanaian political culture and history know fully well that the justices of the regular civil-service constituted courts have had little or absolutely nothing to do with the constitution and operation of these kangaroo courts. Indeed, if anything at all, it is the civilian-constituted and headed judiciary that has creditably held its own in spite of systematic and brutally sustained attempts by military juntas to flagrantly undermine its credibility and integrity. You see, absolutely nothing in human affairs occurs in a vacuum. But, quite strangely, reading Prof. Asare’s “Matters Arising” disquisition, one would not know about this most fundamental dimension of natural laws.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
August 10, 2016
E-mail: [email protected]