Opinions Sun, 14 Apr 2013
By Dr. Michael J.K. BokorSaturday, April 13, 2013
The opinion piece by Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK, entitled “Mr. William Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo was called to the English Bar” confirms the extent to which public-spirited people are unpacking the controversy surrounding the professional stature of the NPP’s Akufo-Addo within the context of Justice Kpegah’s suit against him for impersonation. (See Ghanaweb.com:
The writer frontloaded this conclusive statement: “I can confirm on authority that Middle Temple in the UK has confirmed to me in an e-mail that, Mr. William Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo was called to the English Bar on 22 July 1971.”
He moved on to base his affirmation on tentative responses that he had received from a Mr. Richard Chapman and a junior staff member at Middle Temple whose name he claimed he was advised not to disclose. And he kept that promise.
At this point, it is important to reiterate the fundamental claim that many of us who have been keenly monitoring the situation and investigating the issue have made. We have no qualms about Akufo-Addo’s claim that he was called to the English Bar in July 1971 or that he had worked with the now defunct Courdet Freres law firm in Paris thereafter till 1975.
Again, we have no qualms about his claim to have been enrolled in the General Legal Council (that is, called to the Ghanaian Bar) on July 8, 1975.
The circumstances surrounding these aspects of his professional stature are already known because they have evoked much public interest. Questions being asked include: Why can’t Akufo-Addo produce his testimonials (certificates) to confirm that he attended any law school to be what he has portrayed for decades now? Why won’t he go for replacements for his “lost” certificates by the accrediting institutions instead of relying on NOTES that raise eyebrows?
I haven’t heard anybody say that Akufo-Addo wasn’t called to the English Bar or the Ghanaian one. But I have heard people question the circumstances surrounding his being called to those bars under a name that is on record but by which he hasn’t been conducting affairs for decades now! That is the rub!!
The documents in his possession—which he filed with the Fast Track Division of the Accra High Court as supporting affidavits to his motion—don’t close that gap. They rather have stoked the fire.
Folks, our own checks long before Kofi Atta did his have revealed that the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple has A William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on its list but not Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Preliminary inquiries at the Middle Temple revealed the following:
“The Middle Temple does not have a member by the name of Nana Akufo Addo. We do have a member called William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and I can confirm that he was called to the Bar by this Inn on 22 July 1971.”
That came from a Sally Yorke, Treasury Assistant (The Honourable Society of Middle Temple, Treasury Office, Ashley Building, Middle Temple Lane, London. EC4Y 9BT. Tel: 020 7427 4800).
So, if anybody is rushing to confirm the claim that Akufo-Addo was indeed called to the English Bar in July 1971, he isn’t telling us anything new with which to tie up the loose ends. We are not trying Akufo-Addo; that is for the court to do if his motion for the case to be struck out is disregarded. Even then, public interest in the matter won’t just end there. That is why it is good to keep it in focus.
We moved further to find out whether other known Ghanaians or Africans or just any public figure might also be on the list as being called to the English Bar with Akufo-Addo between 191 and 1973. We came across several. It was all in an effort to settle doubts.
Further inquiry yielded a list of members of the Middle Temple far preceding July 1971. Three eminent former Ghanaian lawyers on it are: Peter Ala Adjetey, Edward Akufo-Addo, and Francis Akpaloo.
We didn’t rush to publish these preliminary findings because they didn’t answer the fundamental questions sustaining public interest in this matter between Justice Kpegah and Akufo-Addo. The discrepancy in the W.A.D Akuffo-Addo and W.E.D. Akuffo-Addo that we noticed in Justice Kpegah’s suit might have its own implications, especially with the presence of Akufo-Addo’s father on the list.
The deeper-level issue that we couldn’t confirm was the date of birth and other poignant personal particulars for the William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo listed as a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.
We have zeroed in on the date of birth because of the discrepancy. In one instance, Akufo-Addo’s date of birth that we stumbled upon was March 9, 1944, while in another instance, it was given as March 29, 1944. One can never tell what is what until that aspect is unraveled.
Now that we know that he claimed to have lost his qualifying and enrolment certificates—for which the Acting Administrative Secretary of the general Legal Council (E. Bart-Plange Brew) would issue him a NOTE to enroll him into the General Legal Council on Tuesday, October 16, 2007—we need to be stringent on anything documentary.
After all, the essence of Justice Kpegah’s suit is “impersonation,” which is rooted in documentary substance. Justice Kpegah has forced Akufo-Addo to admit that in truth and honesty (as far as official documents and nomenclature for legal purposes are concerned) all that represents Akufo-Addo is William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and not Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
To the simpleminded Akufo-Addo zealots, this issue is meaningless and senseless. But to Justice Kpegah and those who know the legal ramifications of the issue, there are questions for Akufo-Addo to answer.
Again, unless Akufo-Addo can provide any official document to confirm the change in name, he will have a lot to do in persuading us that in the eyes of the law, he is what he claims to be. No one can just decide to adopt any name and use it over the years in any official capacity without documentary proof.
Our laws certainly have something to say about this issue, which is what I presume Justice Kpegah is pushing Akufo-Addo toward.
Thus, Akufo-Addo’s defence that he preferred Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo—and his justification of it as a commonplace in the Ghanaian context—is only music to the ears but not rooted in law. He will have questions to answer even though we don’t dispute his claim that people drop names and pick on others. But doing so haphazardly and neglecting the legal ramifications is problematic, especially in his case. That may be a loophole that Justice Kpegah seeks to exploit to doom him.
Who knows what there is about the doings of William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that Justice Kpegah wants to pin down on Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo? Now, then, there is every reason to know why the two different public images of Akufo-Addo are intriguing.
Still bent on pursuing this matter, I know how his supporters will descend on me, but I remain undaunted. I expect them to use any means available to get at me, and I am prepared for their tantrums and empty threats. As for their insults, my skin is too tough for them to penetrate.
We will wait for more information from our sources as we inch toward April 23 for the case to be called for the first time. Ours is not for mischief but to help find closure to this matter. It is all in the service of the truth and dignity for Akufo-Addo. No holds barred, my good friends.
I shall return…
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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.