The Minority in Parliament has endorsed the nomination of Supreme Court judge, Justice Sophia Akufffo as the country’s next Chief Justice (CJ).
Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu told Raymond Acquah on Joy FM’s Top Story Friday, Justice Akuffo is a capable hand because she has distinguished herself as an independent-minded person.
Ms Akuffo’s nomination as the next CJ was made public by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House Friday.
Supreme Court judge, Justice Sophia Akufffo
The President attested to her hard work, capacity for detailed research, her independence of mind and spirit as well as her honesty and integrity.
“I expect discipline, fairness, integrity and the continuing modernization of judicial activities to be the hallmarks of her tenure as Chief Justice if she is so endorsed by the constitutional bodies,” he said.
Justice Akuffo will replace current Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood if she is approved by Parliament. Mrs Wood leaves office on June 8, 2017, after a 10-year career at the judiciary.
Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu
The current CJ has had a sterling career at the judiciary and is the first woman out of the 12 occupants of the fourth highest position in the country.
Her tenure was hit by a bribery scandal following investigations by ace journalist Anas Anas Aremeyaw who showed some judges receiving bribes and for which they were sacked.
The President said he has known the nominee for over 40 years dating back to when she first served as his junior in practice, as a barrister.
Justice Akuffo was appointed as a Supreme Court judge by former President Jerry John Rawlings on November 30, 1995.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
Critics are pointing to a possible conflict of interest situation because the President and the nominee have known each other. They claim the judiciary will not be able to assert its independence as enjoined by the Constitution.
Although the Minority has admitted talks about a conflict of interest situation are legitimate, it said the nominee’s qualities should interest the citizens.
Mr Iddrisu was optimistic the nominee who has been one of the leading voices on human rights in the country will protect the sanctity of the judiciary. “She comes to the bench with some rich experience.”
Former President Jerry John Rawlings appointed Ms Akuffo as SC judge in 1992
“She is taking over from Justice Georgina Wood, undoubtedly one of few Ghanaian women who have dedicated themselves to duty,” she said.
He entreated her to build teamwork and be fair in her dealings with the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) that has repeatedly been on strike over the remuneration of its members.
Former Greater Accra President of the Ghana Bar Association, Frank Davies who also contributed to the discussion said Ms Akuffo has to be judged on the basis of the qualities she is bringing on board and not her relations with the President.
“I would have thought that if the President has been candid to make a disclosure, that should be refreshing and should demonstrate the calibre of the CJ nominee,” he said.
"At the end of the day we should all await the approval of Parliament and wait for the wealth of experience she brings [and] it is only after that we can assess her," he stressed.