Time to fumigate Judiciary, says Atuguba



A justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice William Atuguba, has charged members of the Bench to report people offering them bribes Judges to the law enforcement agencies.

That, he said, was the means of judicial fumigation against corruption.

Justice Atuguba made these remarks when addressing the 36th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Magistrates and Judges, Ghana in Accra yesterday.

According to him, it is better for a person on the bench to be wrongly perceived as anti-social than being perceived as corrupt.

He said the convention of seclusion of judges seemed to have waned on the altar of modernity, but stated that their predicament should lead to its vigorous re-assertion.

Speaking on the theme ‘Restoring the image of the Judiciary’, the Supreme Court judge also urged the judges to invoke the contempt powers in such circumstances.

According to him, the expose by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, without prejudice to pending cases, entailed an amendment of a generalised perception of judicial corruption in Ghana by the public.

He said their battles would be won, if judges bore in mind that their lives on earth were accountable to the Most High Lord, making a biblical reference to Exodus Chapter 23:1-19.

Justice Atuguba also advised the judges to observe the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath as required by Article 156 of the constitution, saying is a requirement of a high moral character and proven integrity.”

According to him,” the judicial office is the most exacting and onerous of all professions, considering the sheer volume of litigation, the varied complex and legal issues and the range of research entailed however, the remuneration and other conditions under such stressful work was poor,” Adding that while conditions of service on the bench had comparatively improved, it had not been radical enough.

“I call on the Bar, the Judicial Council and the Bench to coordinate their efforts and engage the Article 71 committees and other relevant authorities to press for recognition of, and response of the fact that the Bench has a unique and pivotal role to play in this country and its conditions to service must correspondingly be unique, and should not be considered in common with any generalized policy on pay structure or the like.

“In this connection, I call for the restoration of an enhanced leave allowance, substantial entertainment allowance, a handsome allowance for the loss of private professional practice as it is enjoyed by doctors, teachers and others,” Justice Atuguba stated.

He cautioned the bench to guard against judicial “goro” boys from within or without, and ensure prompt disposal of cases to enhance the image.

The president of AMJG, Justice Dennis Adjei, called for a rebranding by going back to the time- tested principles enshrined in the Code of Ethics for effective discharge of duties to enhance integrity, independence and transparency.

Justice Adjei advocated a second look at the law of sentencing, and urged judges to take control of their cases.

He also urged the Judicial Council to initiate self-policing mechanisms to prevent third parties from coming out with damning revelations of the judiciary.

The outgoing president revealed that a land had been acquired at Cantonment for the construction of a club house and a secretariat.

The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Benson Nutsukpui, called for a respectful and cordial relationship between lawyers and judges.

Some retiring judges were also presented with awards by the Chief Justice, Mrs.Georgina Theodora Wood.


By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme   




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