General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2023
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of hiding behind the Judicial Council to “victimise” Dormaahene Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II, who is a High Court judge, for recently calling on Attorney General Godfred Dame to file a nolle prosequi in the perjury case involving Assin North MP James Gyakye Quayson.
In a press statement on Tuesday, 25 July 2023, signed by General Secretary Fifi Kwetey, the NDC said the “revered chief” known in private life as Justice Daniel Mensah, “was recently hauled before a Committee constituted by the Judicial Council and Chaired by the Chief Justice, Gertrude Torkornoo”, in connection with the nolle prosequi comment.
The NDC said since the comment was an appeal to the AG, it did not amount to an interference in the case against the MP, and, thus, the party “holds the view that the attempt by the Judicial Council to victimise the Dormaahene over the said comments is totally unacceptable”.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that, the harassment and victimisation of the revered Dormaahene by the Judicial Council is being done on the expressed direction of President Akufo-Addo and his despotic NPP regime who are hellbent on having the Dormaahene punished over the harmless comment he made on the Gyakye Quayson matter”, the NDC said.
“Indeed, the NDC views these actions by the Judicial Council as a continuation of the avalanche of coordinated attacks and disparaging remarks that were rained on the person of the Dormaahene by persons within the New Patriotic Party after the revered chief expressed his views”.
Read the NDC’s full press statement below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
25TH JULY, 2023.
NDC CONDEMNS HARASSMENT AND VICTIMIZATION OF DORMAAHENE, OSAGYEFO OSEADEEYO AGYEMAN BADU II BY THE AKUFO-ADDO/BAWUMIA GOVERNMENT AND THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been reliably informed that the Paramount Chief of the Dormaa Traditional Area, His Royal Majesty, Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II is being persecuted by the Judicial Council over some public statements he recently made in his role as a traditional ruler.
The revered chief who doubles as a Justice of the High Court in Ghana’s judiciary and known in private life by the name Justice Daniel Mensah, was recently hauled before a Committee constituted by the Judicial Council and Chaired by the Chief Justice, Gertrude Araba Sackey Torkonoo over comments he made in respect of the ongoing prosecution of the re-elected Member of Parliament for Assin North, Hon. James Gyakye Quayson.
It would be recalled that at an event organized by the John Evans Atta Mills Heritage in Sunyani few weeks ago, the venerable Dormaahene made a passionate appeal for the country to consider amending the existing legal regime on the ineligibility of dual citizens to be elected as Members of Parliament; a matter of considerable public interest that is the subject of a Bill currently before Parliament.
On the criminal prosecution of the Assin North MP, the revered chief made a mere appeal to the Attorney-General to consider entering a nolle prosequi in light of the overwhelming endorsement and re-election of James Gyakye Quayson by the good people of Assin North in the just-ended by-election.
It should be clear to every objective mind, that the above-stated comment by the Dormaahene did not in any way prejudice any case pending before any Court. Nor did same breach any Code of Conduct of Judges, as the comment related to the exercise of discretion by the Attorney General and not the Court.
The NDC, therefore, holds the view that the attempt by the Judicial Council to victimize the Dormaahene over the said comments is totally unacceptable.
There is no gainsaying the fact that, the harassment and victimization of the revered Dormaahene by the Judicial Council is being done on the expressed direction of President Akufo-Addo and his despotic NPP regime who are hellbent on having the Dormaahene punished over the harmless comment he made on the Gyakye Quayson matter.
Indeed, the NDC views these actions by the Judicial Council as a continuation of the avalanche of coordinated attacks and disparaging remarks that were rained on the person of the Dormaahene by persons within the New Patriotic Party after the revered chief expressed his views.
Notable among these attacks were threats and insulting comments made by the Minister for Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond, the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and a leading Member of the General Legal Council, Sam Okudzeto who used unprintable words on the chief and described his comments as “senseless.”
It must be emphasized, that the Dormaahene made the comments under reference in his capacity as a paramount Chief and for that matter, a custodian and promoter of the culture, peace, unity, stability and development of the country.
Like all Chiefs in this country, the revered Dormaahene has a responsibility and right to speak on matters of public interest and to call on duty bearers to act in a manner that ensures societal cohesion and development.
This is certainly not the first time that a Chief in Ghana has commented on an issue of public interest or made an appeal to the government or a Public Servant to exercise his/her discretion in a particular manner.
The actions of the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council in this matter constitute a brazen attack on the revered Chieftaincy institution and must be condemned by all lovers of democracy.
Also, the latest conduct by the Judicial Council has all but deepened the ever-rising public perception that the Judiciary under President Akufo-Addo has been weaponized to gag perceived critics of government. This has the potential to further erode public confidence in the judiciary if not halted.
All well-meaning Ghanaians are concerned about what appears to be a creeping culture of judicial harassment of innocent citizens which is fast festering under the intolerant Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government.
We, therefore, wish to caution the Judicial Council not to allow itself to be used by the government to re-introduce a culture of silence in Ghana. The Council must guard against the growing perception that they are an institution that is tied to the apron string of the ruling NPP.
While we respect the important role of the Judiciary in our governance architecture, the Judiciary must in turn respect the rights of citizens to free speech as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. The Judiciary cannot seek to elevate themselves above the Constitution and punish chiefs for voicing their concerns on issues public interest.
We also note, that the disciplinary powers of the General Legal Council on which known NPP figures serve, has often been used as a tool to harass Lawyers affiliated to the NDC through frivilous disciplinary hearings. We demand an immediate cessation of this hostile posturing as it constitutes manifest injustice against those affected.
The NDC hereby calls on the Judicial Council to reconsider its apparent persecution of the Dormaahene. We wish to caution, that should the Judicial Council proceed to harass and victimize the Dormaahene, the NDC will collaborate with other progressive forces and defenders of democracy to embark on a series of public manifestations to protest this creeping culture of judicial tyranny.
Fifi Fiavi Kwetey