Nii Ayikoi Otoo, a former Attorney General, has chastized Albert Kan-Dapaah, the National Security Minister, over his caution regarding the perception that a judiciary is biased and has dire consequences on the country’s security.
According to him, judges do not determine cases on party lines even though the perception of bias exists and that the Minister should have sought legal advice before making the statement.
To Ayikoi Otoo, judges give rulings based on law and not feelings and the National Security Minister would have said something different if he had spoken to a legal practitioner before mounting the platform at the programme.
“I’m sorry to say that, I don’t think he sought legal advice [before commenting] because the judges have taken an oath to do justice to all manner of persons without fear or favour, ill-will and affection.
“He was saying that if someone brings a bad case, the Supreme Court must give a decision to favour that person merely because every time ruling for you will make people feel there is something wrong?” he quizzed while speaking on Joy FM, Monday, April 11, 2022.
Albert Kan-Dapaah, speaking at a sensitisation workshop on the national security strategy for judges of the superior courts, warned that the perception that the judiciary is biased has dire consequences on the country’s security.
He said if it is not checked, it will compel the citizenry to take the law into their own hands for personal satisfaction with the bench deemed biased.
“Injustice occasioned as a result of the absence of an effective justice delivery system or delayed justice or biased justice is certainly a threat to national security.
“Indeed, when injustice abounds, particularly in situations where the bench, which is considered the final arbiter of disputes, is deemed biased, citizens tend to take the law into their own hands most times without recourse to the established systems of justice delivery,” he said.
He added, “If the interpretation of the law is tilted in our favour all the time, people will start accusing the judiciary and will not have the confidence that they need.”
Mahama on judges
Former President John Mahama recently said the National Democratic Congress has problems with the judiciary and called on the Chief Justice to institute reforms within the courts.
“We do have problems with the Judiciary, I must say. I think that it is necessary for some internal reforms to take place there. It is necessary for the Chief Justice or whoever is responsible to make some reforms,” Mr Mahama told supporters of the NDC in the United States where he has been visiting.
He added: “Most of the governance institutions have been politicised. I give the example of the Judiciary. It is only in Ghana that a Supreme Court will make a decision that a birth certificate is not proof of citizenship”.
Mr Mahama also referenced a research by his former executive secretary and lawyer Raymond Atuguba who argued that judges, in crucial political cases, rule based on their party lines.
“There are many such funny judgements that have been given. I remember at one time, our colleague Professor Raymond Atuguba said that from research he had done, judges turn to give their judgements in favour of the political party or leader that appointed them.
“He was subjected to such a whirlwind of indignation by the Judiciary, but if you bring it down to what is happening today, and you look at it and see who appointed who, you will find that there was some truth in the research.
“The thing is, our constitution gives the security of tenure to judges. Once you have been appointed, you cannot be removed. That is why we give security of tenure so that you will have the courage no matter who appointed you to give judgement according to your conscience. That is what our judges should do. They must rise to the occasion.”