By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, March 22, 2013
Former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Francis Kpegah, has sued the NPP flagbearer (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) for holding himself out as a lawyer when evidence available to him from sources such as the General Legal Council proves otherwise. And he is surely reaping a harvest of hate, insults, and what-have-you!
The questions underlying his suit are:
• Is Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo a qualified lawyer, although he has practised law in Ghana for nearly 30 years and succeeded as such?
• Is Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo the same as W.E.D. Akuffo Addo or W.A.D. Akuffo Addo who was registered in 1975 by the Ghana Bar Association with number 1190?
• Is the person called Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo registered by the Ghana Bar Association, and what is his registration number under that name?
Let me place on record what a friend did when Justice Kpegah filed his suit. I reproduce below his findings:
“… But you know this is a serious problem. I have had the chance to see the book of roll of lawyers... one W.A.D. Akufo-Addo was called on 8th July 1975. He was the only person without any colleague of his called on that date. It is strange..... No one has been called alone on the call to roll of lawyers..... The book too was not signed. Furthermore, we all officially know Nana Addo as nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, not William Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo. Those two names are very different.
“… Beyond that date of birth, thumb print, parents’ names, passport picture, signature; and if that was a change in name why did he not swear affidavit and gazetted same as the law requires? We surely live to see.”
The writ, filed an Accra High Court on March 18, 2013, accused Akufo-Addo of impersonation. Justice Kpegah’s 20-point statement of claim includes “A perpetual injunction restraining the said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from holding himself out as a lawyer competent to practise in the Ghanaian courts or anybody regarding him as such”.
So, he is alleging that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been impersonating all these years, which is that he is not a lawyer even though he holds himself up as such. And here, we must be reminded that the word “impersonate” has many meanings, but the essential one is “to assume or act the character of,” and many synonyms, one of which is to “masquerade.” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary definition).
Justice Kpegah’s suit immediately ruffled feathers and rankled many, especially ex-President Kufuor (because the suit indicted him too for appointing Akufo-Addo as the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General). Others angered were NPP activists and lawyers and journalists sympathetic to Akufo-Addo. In a vitriolic reaction to the suit, most of them poured insults on Justice Kpegah while others quickly saw his action as an attempt to destroy Akufo-Addo or as delay tactics to favour the NDC.
In fine, then, all those responding to Justice Kpegah’s suit condemned him or various reasons and concluded that his suit was ill-conceived, misplaced, and needless. We haven’t heard anything from Akufo-Addo himself.
I want to comment on the event, not to praise or condemn Justice Kpegah for his action but to explain issues as I understand them. My intention is simple: to wonder why those reacting to Justice Kpegah’s action are doing so and what it reveals.
Furthermore, I want to wonder why Akufo-Addo is always the target of such controversies and why Justice Kpegah’s suit is different from all other public allegations made against Akufo-Addo. Finally, I will wonder why those insulting Justice Kpegah think that it is insults rather than the hearing of the suit and adducing of evidence that should be the answer to the suit bringing Akufo-Addo’s integrity into question.
One main concern I have is the timing of this suit, not because it has been filed at this time that Akufo-Addo is traumatized by his defeat at the polls and is pursuing the matter in court; but its being filed by a retired Supreme Court judge before whom I have been told Akufo-Addo had appeared as a lawyer in cases being handled by Justice Kpegah.
Again, I was wondering where Justice Kpegah was when Akufo-Addo functioned as the President of the Greater-Accra Regional Branch of the Ghana Bar Association or when ex-President Kufuor appointed him as the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General whose purview cut across the Bench (where Justice Kpegah was).
But the suit is intriguing also because it is the first formal measure taken by anybody to pursue this allegation against Akufo-Addo at court. All others have come and gone as mere whiffs of bad air being blown—and the dust settled on those allegations only for them to be revisited at will. This time, it won’t go that way. Justice Kpegah has been “man enough” to use a known playground for the legal battle.
There is no doubt that what he has set in motion is provocative for all that it entails. No wonder, those rushing to Akufo-Addo’s defence have launched a frontal attack on Justice Kpegah. Here are some:
• Frank Davies, the President of the Greater Accra Bar Association: “ Justice Kpegah is being childish and pedestrian”; his claims are “not serious allegations; these are pedestrian allegations… laughable”;
• Kwame Akuffo, a legal practitioner at the Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co.: “The writ was done in ‘bad faith’ and was certain it will ‘cripple’ in court; Justice Kpegah’s action was politically biased, “completely baseless with malice” just to counter Nana Akufo-Addo’s court action challenging the legitimacy of president Mahama.
• Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper: “Ignore Kpegah’s infantile nonsense, Akufo-Addo’s integrity is indestructible”; the charges were “infantile piece of nonsense” targeted at tarnishing the reputation of a man whose integrity is beyond reproach.
• Kwame Akuffo, A member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) legal team: “Justice Kpegah is a walking contradiction”; the ‘palpable’ falsehood being peddled around by Justice Kpegah is to serve his political pay masters who he claims see Nana Addo as a threat.
Many more, but these samples encapsulate all the venom that Justice Kpegah drew from those irritated by his suit against Akufo-Addo. The problem is that those who have taken it upon themselves to speak on the matter are not helping Akufo-Addo’s cause. What is their interest in the suit filed by Justice Kpegah? How does the suit concern them to warrant their verbal diarhoea?
It is amazing that the person who has been sued himself is not reacting to the issues raised by Justice Kpegah. Instead, all manner of people are doing so on his behalf. And they are quickly referring to Akufo-Addo’s 30 years of successful legal practice. Unfortunately, Justice Kpegah is not disputing Akufo-Addo’s practice.
He is asking questions about his professional status: Where did Akufo-Addo train as a lawyer and where/when was he certified and registered to practice under the name “Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”? To Justice Kpegah, that name doesn’t ring any known bell because it is not in the record books. So, is this Akufo-Addo the same as W.A.D. Akuffo Addo or W.E.D. Akuffo Addo who was registered in 1975 by the GBA and bearing number 1190?
That is a central aspect of the suit, which the Court is yet to begin hearing; but all these people taking on Justice Kpegah are already trying the case and dismissing him on various counts—as an NDC lackey, a hater of Akufo-Addo, an embittered man in his dotage and too senile to think straight; a dunce, or something to that effect. (“ad hominem” at its peak—attacking the personality of the man and not the case he has filed!)
This suit should be regarded as a blessing in disguise for Akufo-Addo because its outcome will definitely clear the air and halt any further tarnishing of his image by all manner of people. And he needs to remember that it is far easier to make a good name than it is to attempt repairing a damaged “good name”!
I have heard some comments from some of his followers that he will not dignify Justice Kpegah by responding to his suit, which made me wonder whether they meant Akufo-Addo well at all. Shouldn’t Akufo-Addo be happy to seize this opportunity to shame his accusers once and for all? If he doesn’t, he will remain a carcass to attract hungry scavengers. And the vultures are always circling above him!
I shall return…
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