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Tuffour vs A-G: How Tsatsu Tsikata, Akufo-Addo worked together to defend Ghana’s constitution

Nana Akufo-Addo and Tsatsu Tsikata

Sat, 18 Nov 2023 Source:

In 1979, two legal luminaries teamed up to defend the constitution of Ghana in the case which became known as 'Tuffour vs. Attorney General' [1980] GLR 637-667.

The case was the re-nomination of an incumbent Chief Justice, Justice Fred Kwasi Apaloo, by the president, done in consultation with the Judicial Council.

The decision by parliament to vet and subsequently reject Apaloo’s nomination was described as unconstitutional by the lawyers for the plaintiff (Dr Amoako Tuffour), who were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, current president of Ghana; legal luminary, Tsatsu Tsikata; and Dr Edmund Prempeh.

While the relationship between two of the lawyers, Nana Akufo-Addo and Tsatsu Tsikata have become frosty in recent times, as has been captured above, the pair once worked together to make a strong case for rule of law.

According to the case brief contained on, the plaintiff invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under article 118(1)(a) of the 1979 Constitution.

The plaintiff sought a declaration that upon the coming in force of the 1979 Constitution, Kwasi Apaloo was deemed to have been appointed Chief Justice of the Republic and as such became president and member of the Supreme Court.

Dr Tuffour, through his lawyers, further sought a declaration by the court that Apaloo remained Chief Justice of the Republic and President of the Supreme Court adding that the vetting and rejection by parliament were in contravention of the constitution and must therefore be declared null and void.

The defendant in the case, Attorney General, Joe Reindorf, first argued that the court lacked jurisdiction, while claiming the plaintiff did not have the capacity to make a case.

A-G Reindorf further argued that any case falling under Article 118 must have a cause of action for which a relief could be granted by the Supreme Court.

On whether the Speaker of Parliament was competent to fill the position, the A-G argued no court had the power to call into question parliamentary proceedings.

The Akufo-Addo-Tsatsu-Prempeh partnership in the case

At the time of the case, Nana Akufo-Addo was 35-years-old, while Tsatsu Tsikata was 29. They argued that the writ filed by the plaintiff was to seek interpretation and enforcement of certain provisions of the 1979 Constitution.

Counsel for the plaintiff (Amoako Tuffour) further argued that since the 1979 Constitution had come into force, a new order was then enforced, adding that for continuity to fully take place, both old and new framers had to put in place schemes by which certain office holders were deemed to have been appointed into the equivalent offices upon the coming into force of the constitution.

Dr Tuffour’s counsel, led by Akufo-Addo, argued that Justice Apaloo, who was already serving as Chief Justice under the 1979 Constitution, was not deemed to be nominated, endorsed and subjected to parliamentary approval for the position.

A-G Joe Reindorf, however, conceded that Apaloo was the Chief Justice but argued that the courts he presided over were different from ones which the new constitution created in 1979, adding that a new Supreme Court had been imposed on the hierarchy of courts at the time.

The A-G further argued that since there was no Supreme Court at the time the new order was created, no Chief Justice could hold a position of the Supreme Court as Kwasi Apaloo, who was Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, had to go through the procedure under article 127(1) to become a Chief Justice.

Despite the various arguments made by the A-G in the matter, the court, presided by Justice Sowah, determined that the court was unable to accept the submission of the Attorney-General regarding estoppel by election and accordingly dismissed it.


This led to a win for the plaintiff [Dr Amoako Tuffour] and his counsel, led by Nana Akufo-Addo, Tsatsu Tsikata, and Dr Edmund Prempeh.

Today, both Akufo-Addo and Tsatsu Tsikata have disagreed on many things on the legal and political front, as the two clashed in court during the 2012 Akufo-Addo vs John Mahama election petition case and subsequently the John Mahama vs Akufo-Addo election petition in 2021.

With additional files from