President Akufo-Addo, has expressed gratitude to retired Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, saying she played a pivotal role in him winning the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, after his two failed attempts.
According to the President, the decision by the retired Chief Justice to broadcast live the 2012 Presidential Election petition for eight months, had “an unintended consequence” of his political fortunes to become President of Ghana.
It can be recalled that, the Danquah Institute (DI), an affiliate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by President Akufo-Addo’s nephew, Gabby Asare-Otchere Darko, prior to the commencement of the election petition case at the Supreme Court, through several media agenda pushed the Chief Justice to allow television cameras to broadcast all proceedings of the law suit.
Lead counsel for petitioners; Akufo-Addo, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Philip Addison, had asked the Supreme Court for live coverage of its proceedings, but the nine Supreme Court Justices, declined an oral request.
Few days later, the then Chief Justice, through an administrative fiat, directed that the proceedings of the Presidential Election Petition before the Supreme Court, be broadcast live via television and radio.
Her directive, which was captured in a statement signed by Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, Judicial Secretary and copied to several media houses, including the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said the decision was taken in response to the increasing calls from the public for the proceedings of the Court to be broadcast live in view of the historic importance of the case.
The statement said: The Supreme Court will communicate guidelines for the live broadcast at its next sitting and expect that all media houses will cooperate and comply with the guidelines when they are announced, adding “we cherish the hope that this will deepen our country’s democracy and satisfy the greater public desire for accurate and up-to-date information on this historic and landmark case”.
The Managing editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt, had criticized Chief Justice, Georgina Wood for engaging in an “illegality” by undermining “the judgment of the nine judges” not to permit live telecast of the election petition case being heard by the Supreme Court.
Mr. Pratt, condemned Justice Georgina Wood on Radio Gold’s “Alhaji & Alhaji” for using a “mere administrative fiat” to overturn a “legal ruling of the justices”.
He vehemently chastised the action of Justice Georgina Wood, because her action, according to him, undermined the powers of the nine other justices of the Supreme Court.
He also condemned the bi-partisan support of the Chief Justice’s “ruling” as parochial.
Four years on, Mr. Akufo-Addo, is happily saying “Her decision to broadcast the proceedings of the celebrated election petition in which I was Plaintiff together with the Vice President – Dr Mahamudu Bawumia – and our late lamented colleague, Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey, was an important moment in our nation’s political revolution.
It exposed the vagaries of our electoral system and compelled greater vigilance on the part of activists of my party, which undoubtedly helped us to achieve the famous victory in December 2016.
So madam, you can see my presence here as the President of the Republic is an unintended consequence of your decision and I have every reason to be grateful to you” he stated.
The President, made the comments when he proposed a toast at a farewell dinner held in honor of the retired Judge, who retired last month as Ghana’s 12th Chief Justice and the first female in that role.
He lauded her for how her effective handling of the judicial corruption scandal that broke in 2015.
DI, had explained that a live televised broadcast of such a historical case, with its far-reaching implications for future elections, would reduce opportunities for some people to put a self-serving spin on the proceedings and decision of the court, with the intention of inciting undue negative reactions from an already divided nation.
Full transparency, the DI, said in a statement released at the time, would help all Ghanaians accept the ultimate decision of the court.
“We need to televise this case for the benefit of the people and the growth of our democracy. Ghana needs it. Africa needs it”, the statement said.
It continued, “Every Ghanaian must have the opportunity to see and hear what is happening in the court room in order to help form their own informed view of proceedings.
This would reduce opportunities for an aggrieved party to spin the outcome of the case in a way that could negatively heighten tension and incite party supporters to react violently or in similar negative fashion”.
But the Forum for Governance and Justice (FGJ), cautioned against a live telecast of the case.
The forum, believed granting such a request was going to expose the Judges that were going to sit on the case to danger, since they could be vilified by parties that were going to be unhappy with their rulings.
The Convener of the FGJ, Dr. Clement Apaak, opined that a live telecast of the court proceedings could be counterproductive for the country.
The President also thanked the former Judge and the current member of the Council of State for restoring confidence in the Judiciary, following revelations that some members of the bench, take bribe to pronounce judgments to favour people with vested interests.
“The measures she put in place and the way she worked methodically to gain the confidence of the skeptical population, will always stand her in good stead, when the history of the Ghanaian judiciary is recorded.
She helped restore confidence in one of the critical institutions of our state,” the President said.
Mrs. Wood, retired from public service on Wednesday, June 7, after decades of dedicated service to the judiciary.
The President described the exposé as her greatest crisis; however, she confronted it methodically and thereby regained and restored the confidence of Ghanaians in the third arm of government, the Judiciary.
He observed that, it was important that as a country, it recognized and acknowledged exceptional service to the nation.
“Having served as the first female Chief Justice of the Republic and also as the longest serving Chief Justice, the country owes Mrs. Wood a debt of gratitude for her service”, said the president..
In her response, former Chief Justice Wood, celebrated former President J.A. Kufour for reposing his confidence in her when he appointed her Chief Justice some ten years ago.
She also celebrated former Presidents Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama for supporting her to remain in office when they served as presidents. The former CJ thanked President Akufo-Addo for successfully retiring her and appointing her to serve on the Council of State as the first former Chief Justice to be appointed to that office under the fourth Republican Constitution of Ghana.