Speaker Bagbin asks why elevation of judges delays

Alban Bagbin

Speaker of Parliament Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has wondered why there has been delay in elevating qualified and hardworking justices to Ghana’s apex court, the Supreme Court.

He noted that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was now empowered to appoint Justices Barbara Frances Ackah-Yensu and Samuel Kwame Adibu Asiedu, both Court of Appeal Judges to the Supreme Court.

Speaker Bagbin however said: “I think these two judges should have been in the Supreme Court long, long ago.”

The Speaker made the comment on Friday, in Accra, when the House unanimously approved the two justices the Appointments Committee of Parliament recommended for approval following their vetting last October.

They would soon be sworn-in by the President to greenlight the beginning of their service at the highest level on the Ghanaian bench.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last July nominated four: three justices of the Court of Appeal and a Justice of the High Court to fill up expected vacancies at the apex court.

The nominees from the Court of Appeal were Justice Barbara Frances Ackah-Yensu, Justice George Kingsley Koomson and Justice Samuel Kwame Adibu Asiedu.

Justice Ernest Yao Gaewu was the only nominee from the High Court.

Their nomination, constitutionally, was subject to vetting and subsequent approval or rejection by Parliament.

Speaker Bagbin, a lawyer himself, noted that Justice Ackah-Yensu was the year mate of the current Chief Justice.

“They were called to Bar the same year and she has been an excellent Judge; she was an excellent student and throughout she had distinguished herself as a very deep learned professional lawyer. I don’t know why it took that length of time for her to get to the Supreme Court.” the Speaker said.

Of Justice Asiedu, Speaker Bagbin said: “Justice Asiedu, I have been questioning why he was in the High Court from 2006 to 2019? I just can fantom why that happened? Because he has been a very excellent lawyer and Judge, and in fact recognised internationally.

“And as an academician, he did very well Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), and the progress was so slow at the bench. I just could not imagine it and he never went for anything apart from excellence.”

The Speaker urged for a relook at these matters; and come out clearly to guide people on the benchmark or merits or otherwise or criteria in the assessment and appointments of Judges to the Supreme Court; saying “it is very, very important.”

Touching on the number of Judges in the Supreme Court, Speaker Bagbin said he would go with those who think that remit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in Ghana was so wide.

He said the framers of the Constitution did not just leave that for Parliament to legislate to give the limit and that it was for a good reason that they only gave the minimum and left out the maximum for good people in Government to at any time determine the right number.

He said unfortunately politics had entered that arena

“I recall a few years ago the insistence was 13 and during discussions, it was agreed 15.

“Today, the discussion has shifted. You cannot lead a country that way. You cannot govern that way. There is no meritocracy in this country, and we need to work towards that. With that we can get justice,” the Speaker said.

Source: GNA

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