Skande!: Lawyers, the bribe, the bench and justice [2]

lawyersAdd the earlier dismissal of the Sir Arko Korsah (CJ) Court and that gives a booster-clarity to appreciate the trend. Intriguingly two very important adjunct factors are recalled to strengthen the submission on source and cause.  

The firing by Dr Nkrumah of Sir Arko was labeled “a political interference of the judiciary” [regarded as independent in the constitutional “triunion”—the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature]. Sir Arko’s replacement was said to have CPP leanings.

The reasons for first military coup mast-flagged this . It was used by the Opposition {DOMO behind the Junta]; but they hoisted themselves on their own petard appointing Edward Akufo Addo Chief Justice to replace the status quo Chief Justice Sarkodee.

Akufo Addo got into trouble with Bar whose leadership support included his son Nana Akufo Addo. The trend continued under the guise of presidential powers.

I recall Victor Owusu’s public speech at the Ga Traditional Council Hall opposite the law courts in Accra [24 Sept 1979 and note this was the eve of AFRC handover for start of the 3rd Republic] where he described complainingly the whimsical changes of Justices as wrong and disturbing including treatment of the individual incumbents.

It was understood then that another change was imminent to dismiss Chief Justice Fred Apaloo. The rumored explanation for the pressure on President Dr.Hilla Limann to do that by a powerful lobby in the upcoming ruling Peoples National Party [PNP, CPP incarnate] was a political hit back at Fred for finding against most of the CPPists in the post-coup series of probes by the NLC of which Victor was the Attorney General later foreign minister.   These do not make the corruption label via political interference a fiction.

There were the John Appiah AFRC Chief Prosecutor sensation [Mr Justice Owusu Sekyere the trial judge’s caustic sentencing remarks]. Gen. A. A. Afrifa’s list of 42 registration fees default lawyers and threat to prosecute them plus more shortly back the enquiry reportedly pursuant a retired very senior

Judge was said to have or be harassing a junior to tweek finding in favour on a behalf. Two other elements In the cause record are the sentencing of Nkrumah and Kofi Baako [Cape Coast High Court] by British Irish Justice Lingley, later Justice Granville Sharpe said he found not enough evidence to incriminate Opposition politicians Victor Owusu and Joe Appiah in a coup attempt trial. [The Labadi “T”Junction Maj Awhaitey et others 1958 only a year after independence]. That ruling was widely believed by the CPP as political against Nkrumah.

The most eerie in that trial and others which the CPP government lost was a lead defense lawyer had used his Freemason connection with the Bench to get favorable judgment for the country Opposition. These are the narratives which generated the counter political accusations laced with buntings and bubbles- sycophancies of the respective [CPP/DOMO—UP-PP-NPP] party faithful and spun to this day, transforming to maintain public gullibility as the contagion that it has become.

Our democracy has so far failed to seriously grapple with that to shut down the near sanctimonious fixed “my party right or wrong” psyche — exemplifying the political animosity and bitterness in oscillations dictated by who is power.

Actually, it more than explains succinctly why the foundations of the platform for this whole creed and the fascination it draws about the judiciary and corruption are quite strong; but not in-collapsible constructively with very diligence to escape bungling because this might be the last opportunity.

Shift in attitudes needs a rapid response strategy and accountability mechanisms prioritised and made open ended. I shall have to borrow from the mandates of the National Media Commission [NMC} for a module.

It says inter alia ‘to investigate complaints against the press [the omnibus] and the press against the public with a view to adjudicate settlement of complaints’.

There is though something of the sort mechanism but again its inherent weakness lies with two failures from an inadvertent complacency perhaps.

Firstly, there is either no or poor public education which may include surprisingly some at law without downplaying the extent. Secondly, the practical pointer is that notice board “JUSTICE NOT FOR SALE”.

It stands a loner and looks too ordinary to be minded. In terms of communications, it fails to match even the passion which is its both raison d’etre and justification. You need something more eye catching and calculated to compel constant reminder which deters psychologically. Or, it must be the impact factor. In other words the judiciary shall be seen to own its campaign.

Again, the emphasis remains that the Judiciary is trying. A lot goes on for reforms. The fault is partly that these are not loud enough announced. That has a likelihood to feed the muting which gives the presumption of nothing doing.

But alas! And on the contrary that is not how the system works. It is an agonising ethical and populist for an accountability and transparency conflict. Striking the balance is knife-edged. All that conduces the conditions which are very hard but I do not think that we can use that to lower quality and trust.

It is possibly within the margin of error to open a study to settle the issue because it is not good for us as a country, sore for both the judiciary and the bar and as said by the judge who opened the Pandora’s Box: “one of the things investors consider before they invest in any economy, is an effective and transparent judicial system”. However, and with respect, I like the learned Judge and legal profession to ponder this:

“In a great many investment cases the arbitrators have ruled the countries have violated their international obligations to foreign investors…other cases often focus in a more nuanced way on the balance between the rights of foreign investors and host states….” But there is “the broader political importance of some investment case and the growing tension between the competing goals of protecting private property rights and allowing governments to take reasonable steps to enhance other social objectives”.   [Lawless World by Philippe Sands QC pub.Penguin 2006 pg. 130].

For the rest of us the message amplifies the imprimatur to lend support-have a clean judiciary as a civic duty responsibility. But that reaching out would be initiated by the justice system in hands across now a   border.

This is why the judiciary has to take the lead — upfront bearing in mind the individual’s own self-esteem as circumstantially enveloped in the collective honor constitute what are crucially in the heart of the core of this old bump, but must be excised or induced to be fully credulous about a honnete homme bar and bench in this country.

If any more stalling is not and cannot be equated with the ‘justice delayed, justice denied dictum’ I believe the truth and innocence would cease to be debatable any longer. But the arms folding today could rebound the judicial wing and by then [as and when but not now] the machinery would have become woundedly weakened by the years body blows to be like the economy today.

That misnomer “fixing it” will not wash for two reasons: governments do not fix economies they manage it; and for justice, the cynicism would have gone past notoriety.

I think the solution to tackle it is a study not an enquiry of any sort which will be instantly hijacked by politicization press sensations and scuttled. Kufuor’s “National Re-conciliation Commission” was

hopelessly lost through that. The major goal is not to catch a thief. It is rather find what is or could be wrong and cause—weaknesses to strengthen and loopholes to seal at cost which a country dearly wishing for an envious justice system for trust is prepared to pay.

Apart from suspect evil that may be read in the noise with some degree of being right, I think that absolute decency is precisely the wish of everyone for a country that is increasingly growing wearied of politics, distrustful of it and disappointingly alienating.


© Prof nana essilfie-conduah.

06 Oct. 2014

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