20 December 2012

Ghana: CJ - They Want to Throw Me to the Wolves

The Chief Justice, Mrs. Theodora Wood has decried what the Judicial Service describes as persistent attempts to undermine the judiciary and the office of the Chief Justice by a section of the print media, especially those that support the National Democratic Congress, referred to by the former Attorney-General, Martin Amidu, as "criminally rented NDC press."

In a letter to the Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic and Economic Governance, Dr. Emmanuel Akwettey, sighted by The Chronicle, the Chief Justice complained of systematic attempts by the NDC media to discredit the Judicial Council's decision to establish public complaints secretariat to deal with post-election petitions.

The letter was signed by Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, the Judicial Secretary, and addressed to the IDEC boss in his capacity as one of those institutions that co-ordinated the signing of the Kumasi Peace Accord, in which the Chief Justice led the various Presidential Candidates to commit themselves to peace before, during and after the December 7 elections.

The letter said the idea of setting up public complaints secretariat was mooted long before the December 7 vote, but the 'criminally rented NDC press' had sought to create the impression that the Chief Justice was motivated by the complaints emanating from the New Patriotic Party into setting up the complaints secretariat.

In a press release announcing the setting up of the public complaints secretariat, the Judicial Service explained the issue thus: "The purpose of this arrangement is to ensure that post-election petitions that are placed before the courts are determined in a timely fashion.

"This initiative of the Hon. Lady Chief Justice is part of a raft of measures that the Judicial Service has taken towards the speedy disposal of election disputes. The service, in 2008, produced a Manual on Election Adjudication in Ghana, ahead of the general elections of that year, to serve as a useful guide for judges in adjudicating electoral disputes."

The letter complained that beyond the scurrilous attacks on the Judiciary by 'the criminally-rented NDC press,' "the Judiciary, and in particular Chief Justice Wood, have suffered threats of physical harm and death, also on account of decisions handed down by the courts.

"A case in point is the threat issued by the Northern Youth for Justice (NYJ) in April 2011, in a petition it presented to the Judicial Council in the aftermath of the ruling of the High Court in the Ya-Na case.

"It is our belief that the invitation to the Chief Justice to participate in the High Level Meeting, which gave birth to the Kumasi Accord, was premised on the conviction of the organizers of the forum that the Judiciary, as an institution, has a role to play in safeguarding the peace and stability of our country, during and after the elections. Chief Justice Wood on various platforms has outlined measures that the Judiciary has taken, to enable it realize this objective," the letter explained.

The Judicial Secretary's letter complained thus: "It is, therefore, disheartening that her honest efforts are being undermined by a section of the media. These actions do not only undermine the authority of the Judiciary and its head (the Chief Justice), but also expose her and members of the Judiciary to physical harm and danger and equally threaten the peace of the country."

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