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Opinions Tue, 2 Jul 2013

The Problem Is Justice Atuguba Himself!!!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I don't know how Justice William Atuguba perceives both the role of the august Supreme Court of Ghana, as well as his own individual role as president of the 9-member panel of jurists hearing the Akufo-Addo/New Patriotic Party's Election 2012 presidential petition. Still, it clearly appears to me that Mr. Atuguba is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he cannot, in any way, shape or form, whatsoever, determine how operatives of the collective national media both react to and interpret judicial proceedings as televised and publicly played out by the key elements of the same (See "Media's Uncontrolled Power Will Be Halted - Atuguba" JoyOnline.com/Ghanaweb.com 6/24/13).

The truth of the matter is that it is editors, publishers and corporate-media chiefs who decide what makes news headlines, or whose interpretation of the day's judicial proceedings gets prominent display in both the print and the electronic media. And so, really, if Justice Atuguba has any qualms about the quality of news reportage, he would be better off scheduling a conference with the heads of the various media establishments, with the possible mediation, supervision and/or anchoring of such a conference by the National Media Commission (NMC).

Supreme Court jurists, if Justice Atuguba is not already aware of this, have the primary responsibility of providing definitive interpretation of the laws of the land, as elaborately enshrined in our Fourth-Republican Constitution and/or periodically passed by Parliament or the legislative arm of government. In sum, presumptuously and pontifically legislating from the bench is not one of the cardinal functions of the Supreme Court of Ghana.

The preceding mauger, I perfectly understand the right of Mr. Atuguba to be rankled or upset by the apparent factual and evidential non-truths bruited about by media operatives, perhaps with the malicious intention of impugning his professional credibility and integrity. But I also hope that the president of the 9-member panel of the Akufo-Addo/NPP presidential election petition fully recognizes the dire and unmistakable fact that the longer his panel delays judicial hearings and deliberations, the more intense and hyperbolic is bound to be the spin that media operatives put on judicial proceedings. There is an age-old Aristotelian maxim which counsels thusly: "Nature abhors a vacuum." Justice Atuguba and his panel associates had better pay heed.

Legion leaks appear to be spilling out of the Atuguba courtroom, precisely because the presiding judge has been widely seen as lacking managerial poise and over-indulging himself in tendentious political speechification. If the foregoing observation has demonstrable validity, then, indeed, Justice Atuguba has nobody else but himself to squarely fault for the kind of gross media misconduct that he has been bitterly complaining about.

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At any rate, the Atuguba Court ought to be intensely focused on expediting the process of judicial justice, or perennially risk having the integrity and independence of the Supreme Court of Ghana being irreparably subjected to public scorn and disaffection.

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY Garden City, New York June 26, 2013 E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net ###

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
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