Chief Justice urges calm, pledges to restore confidence in judiciary

Georgina Wood - Chief Justice
Georgina Wood – Chief Justice

The Chief Justice (CJ), Justice (Mrs.) Georgina Theodora Wood has called for calm as the Judicial Council acted resolutely to clean the judicial system of corrupt practices.

This comes in the wake of the bribery scandal which has rocked the judiciary with some judges of the high courts and lower bench allegedly caught on video taking bribes.

Speaking at the opening of the annual conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in Kumasi, she said they were determined to rise up to the occasion to restore public confidence.

The week-long conference is under the theme “Rule of law, access to justice and sustainable development. The panacea to political and economic progress of a nation state”.

Justice Georgina Wood pointed out that the current happenings offered an opportunity to clean and sanitize the judiciary in order to strengthen the rule of law and democracy.

It was on the basis of this that the alleged corrupt practices involving some judges was being treated with the urgency and seriousness the matter deserved.

She, however, was emphatic that the rule of law would be upheld in the investigations to ensure that all the constitutional guarantees and safeguards afforded to all persons accused of any stated misconduct were fully respected.

Justice Georgina Wood warned of swift and decisive application of the appropriate sanctions against anybody found to be culpable.

The Judicial Council had constantly made it clear that if evidence of corruption was brought to its attention, office holders found to have violated their oath of office and laws of Ghana would face the consequences of their actions, she added.

The CJ noted that judicial corruption was not only criminal but a moral problem that hindered economic and political development of the nation and the wellbeing of its people.

She spoke of instances where a number of judges and judicial staff had been dismissed or their appointments terminated and hinted that aside the ongoing investigations, impeachment proceedings were pending against three high court judges.

Added to this were a number of judicial disciplinary proceedings against registrars and other judicial service staff.

Justice Georgina Wood acknowledged that the judicial service was in its “peril moments and the legacy of our forebears is wobbling”.

“Corruption, greed, avarice and rent seeking have overcome the values and virtues that once shaped the third branch of governance and instilled a sense of pride in the courts.”

She pointed out that reforms designed over the last decade to promote the principles of transparency, accountability and equity in the administration of justice “appears to have been undone by the relentless desire of the enemies of justice to enrich themselves at the expense of poor parties seeking their services.

It is a sad commentary that the enemies of justice while targeted as an external agent who ought to be anticipated and dealt with, have come from within and visited mayhem on our efforts.”

She reminded judges to clearly understand that the extraordinary institutional and decisional independence, immunity, security of tenure and privileged position enjoyed by the bench, were not meant for exploitative purposes, but efficient and effective service.

The CJ said the judicial scandal had “cast a heavy dark shadow on the legal community as a whole, its services, its people and its legitimacy”.

She stressed the need for the Bar to join and support the Judicial Council to purge the system of corrupt practices.

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor who also attended the conference said access to justice was not only the foundation of a fair and democratic society but an index to the level of civilization of a nation.

He underlined the need for the state to initiate strategies that would promote access to the law by all including the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, said corruption posed a serious challenge to the administration of justice and rallied all Ghanaians to work together to salvage the integrity of the nation’s judicial system.

He also called for the supply of modern logistics and equipment to the security agencies, especially the police service to ensure that due process was followed in the justice delivery system.

Source: GNA

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