Although everything in Ghana is highly politicised, the country’s judiciary has been insulated from the politicisation, Chief Justice-designate, Sophia Akuffo, has asserted
“…I’m not saying everything is political but everything is politicised excessively in this country,” she said, adding”I’m an example that it [the judiciary] is not [politicised]”. She said considering the fact that she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ghana by former President John Rawlings and now nominated as Chief Justice by President Nana Akufo-Addo, there is clearly no politicisation of the judiciary.
“I was appointed by a former president Jerry John Rawlings and I have now been nominated by President Akuffo Addo and these are from different ends of the political spectrum and so, if just that, obviously not,” she said at her vetting Friday. However, she admitted almost everything in the country have been politicised, saying “but unfortunately, this is just personal, everything is politicised.
“…and it is one of the things we all need to be working against,” she told the Appointments Committee members. Notwithstanding, she said there is the need to relook at the appointment processes for transparency and integrity purposes in order to avoid what she termed external influences of the judiciary. “One of the quality indices of quality justice is independence and integrity.
To shield the judiciary further from external influences, maybe we need to take a second look, at even the appointment process. “I’m not here, ready to make any recommendations but we do need to, at the very least, we need some sort of procedural guidelines as to what the process is. That at least helps with transparency,” she explained.
Judiciary and influences
Justice Akuffo argued that the judicial process required” to be insulated not only from political influences but from all forms of influences. She said there are a number of mechanisms to ensure the judiciary is insulated from all forms of external influences, noting “Part of it has to do with even enforcing the code of conduct of judges because that is grounded in judicial the assurance of judicial independence and integrity”.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, who is the second most senior of the Supreme Court judges, was nominated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to replace Justice Georgina Theodora Wood who retired as Chief Justice of Ghana on June 8, 2017. Her nomination was in line with Article 144(1)(2) which require the selection of a Chief Justice to be done by the President in consultation with the Council of State but subjected to the approval of parliament. Though her vetting was initially scheduled for June 19, the current vacuum created by the exit of Mrs Wood necessitated the process to be pushed to Friday, June 16, 2017.