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Akufo-Addo didn’t practise law at Coudere Freres in France

Fri, 5 Apr 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My good friends, it is undeniable that nothing comes from nothing. The NPP’s Akufo-Addo is still on our radar screen for a good reason.

One of his claims is that he was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971, after which he moved to Paris (France) to work from 1971–1975 for Coudere Freres (Brothers), a major US law firm. A quick question for him: As a qualified lawyer, why did he work at that law firm as an administrator and not a practising lawyer? Those who knew him as such in France have begun talking. We challenge Akufo-Addo to clear the air that he didn’t practise law at Coudere Freres.

Once we haven’t yet found the missing link in the chain of his background, we won’t stop the search for answers to pertinent, nagging questions. However long the search may be, we are prepared to carry on, guided by the maxim that “Patience moves mountains, but only if you try” (as the Jamaican reggae maestro, Jimmy Cliff, reminds us).

In that vein, we keep the searchlight on Akufo-Addo. Let nobody think that we are doing so just because we hate him or that we are mischievous, fiendish, or idling because we have too much time and too little to do. We are not. We are insistent that the missing link in his background doesn’t bode well for him, especially within the context of his unceasing quest to be given the highest office of the land.

If we are complaining about the leadership crisis facing our country because our leaders lack the requisite aptitude, moral character, and acumen, then, we should be interested in knowing as much as we can about those aspiring to be our leaders. We should not fail to dig deep into matters that can help us know them for what and who they are. So if they enter office and do things anyhow, we can tell why.

We have every reason to ascertain their real nature. That is why this probe into the missing link in Akufo-Addo’s background will not be abandoned just because it hurts some people’s feelings or disorients them. We will press on to know the truth—and it is only the truth that will set someone free!

We are all agreed that Akufo Addo did attend elementary school in Ghana before proceeding to the Lancing College, Sussex, England, in 1961 for his “O” and “A” levels, and returning to Ghana to attend the University of Ghana, Legon, where he earned a B.Sc. Econs in 1967.

Immediately thereafter, Akufo-Addo’s biographical chain cracks because a major link vanishes. There is a void in Akufo-Addo’s life between 1967 and June 1971. His CV doesn’t contain anything to tell us where he was; but we are suddenly given a peek into his professional life, beginning in July 1971.

His own claims in official records give us a timeline for his professional stature:

• He was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971;

• He was an associate counsel at Coudere Freres (Brothers), a major US law firm, at its Paris office in France (1971–1975);

• He was called to the Ghanaian Bar in July 1975;

• He was a junior member of the chambers of U.V. Campbell (1975–1979);

• He was a senior partner and co-founder in 1979 with Dr. Edmund of the prominent law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & co.

Here is where the missing link raises very thick doubts. Let’s be patient to understand these doubts and their implications. A very good friend of mine, who began probing into the background of Akufo-Addo as far back as 2008, explained some aspects of the doubts, which I reproduce below:

“A law professor in the UK who was contacted did not mince words in describing Akufo Addo’s professional experience up to 1979 as hollow and very porous. He couldn’t believe that a person called to the English Bar in 1971 should work as “associate counsel” which to him was nothing more than being an “intern” or, put another way, is like a biochemist being recruited as a lab technician, not for ONE year while they look for a job that fits their qualification but for a total of FOUR YEARS (1971–1975)!

“The only plausible explanation may be that Akufo Addo’s qualifications were not up to standard and he was being done a favor as an “intern”. Not only that for an additional FOUR YEARS Akufo Addo was only a “junior member” (and not a partner) of the chambers of U.V. Campbell. The law professor pointed out that within two years of his students being called to the Bar, they became partners, NOT “associate counsel” or “junior member” of their law firms!

“U.V. Campbell in whose chambers he worked as “junior member” was the Solicitor-General under the Progress Party government in which his (i.e., Akufo Addo’s) father (Edward Akufo-Addo) was President.

“U.V. Campbell is reported to have practised in Accra and Kumasi but has moved to Jamaica. An Internet search on him led to Ivor Agyeman-Duah’s Between Faith and History: A Biography of J.A. Kufuor which mentioned a U.V. Campbell, an Afro-Caribbean prominent lawyer in the UK who married Kufuor’s sister, Cecilia!”

Further information in the Sixth Annual Report of the ICSID, 1971/1972 revealed that U. V. Campbell (Esq., M.A., LLB, Barrister-At-Law), was a panel member representing Ghana in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as of June 30, 1977.

We consider the doubts from another angle, focusing on Akufo-Addo after his graduation from Legon in 1967. Here again, my friend’s queries come in handy:

“Since Akufo Addo did not go to any of the universities in the UK to read law—as was common in the UK by the late 1960s—but went to Middle Temple (if his claim is to be believed even), in whose chambers did he do his required “pupillage” to enable him to be recommended to the English Bar Council and to be called to the English Bar?”

We are reminded that he entered Oxford but left in inexplicable circumstances not long thereafter!

We have more probing to do because the doubts are still hanging around. Again, we turn to his early professional life:

“Since Akufo Addo was supposed to be working in France from 1971–1975 as an “associate counsel”, when did he arrive in Ghana to take the CONVERSION EXAMS to qualify to be called to the Ghana Bar in July 1975? Or was he exempted from the exams in Ghana?

“If he was exempted, under what conditions? Did he arrive in Ghana in February 1975 to join the chambers of U.V. Campbell in Ghana, and qualified to be called to the Ghana Bar by July 1975 since his own CV indicates that he was working for Coudere Freres (Brothers) from 1971–1975?”

At this point, several questions still hang unanswered, which is why we won’t give up soon. As my friend puts it, there are too many loopholes in the professional background of Akufo Addo, not to mention other aspects of what has made him an easy prey for those tarnishing his reputation at will. He should, therefore, come clean if he wants to be considered trustworthy enough to rule Ghana.

Official records should be available at that Middle Temple or whatever has become of it to tell us what we need to know about Akufo-Addo’s professional life between 1967 and 1971.

A few friends who have dug into the matter are coming out to say, among others, that “there is no record of him per the year he puts up there. They are all fallacy.”

One of them said emphatically: “I have been doing this underground investigation since year 2007 but could not find anything about him. Even there are top lawyers in Ghana who know of this man but do not want to come up with the evidence. I am currently in Ghana but will be going back to the UK very soon. However, l have discussed the issue with some of my classmates and they are all telling me that there is no record of him.”

Once the Pandora’s Box opened by Justice Kpegah’s suit against him remains open, we must be prepared to deal with its contents, however unsightly they may be. Then, we can close that box and hope that nothing new happens to force it open again.

Why is Akufo-Addo the only high-profile Ghanaian lawyer and politician to be turned into a punching bag in the public sphere? Don’t tell me it is because people hate him. It is simply because people have more questions to ask about his background than the answers that his official records and damage controllers provide.

Meantime, our information is that Frank Davies has entered appearance for him in the suit filed against him by retired Supreme Court Judge, Francis Kpegah. This is the preliminary work being done for the trial itself to begin. The rules/procedures have it that within 14 days from the date of filing his Appearance, he has to file his Statement of Defence. Then, the court will fix a date to begin hearing the case.

My good friends, at this point, we will break off to look further afield for more issues concerning this missing link in Akufo-Addo’s background. The more we dig into the matter, the more confounded we become because the gap cannot be plugged. But we won’t give up. We will continue till we solve this puzzle for him. At least, he will be the eventual beneficiary. We are only doing a yeoman’s job for him; but his followers say we do so because we hate him. Phew!!

I shall return…

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.