President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday urged the Judiciary to uphold its reputation in order to command the respect of the people.
He said it was critical for the growth of the country that, that independent arm of government was not viewed as an institution associated with partiality, perversion of justice, corruption and impunity.
“It is critical for the growth of our nation that we have a Judiciary that commands the respect of the people by the nature of its delivery of justice, as well as by the comportment of its judges. It is vitally important that we have judges who are honest; possess integrity and a sound knowledge of the law.”
President Akufo-Addo said this when he was swearing into office, the thirteenth Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, at the Banquet hall of the State House in Accra.
Justice Sophia Akuffo, with over three decades experience as a jurist, is the second female chief Justice of the Republic. She took over from Justice Georgina Theodora Wood who retired from office this month.
The President said it was unacceptable, the situation where judges proffered judgements on the basis of decisions from lower courts and cited them as law, “and even less so, when judges cite no authority at all for their rulings, and give orders without reasons.”
“Our judges must be learned, know their case law and ensure that their judgements are properly motivated...that is the only way the rule of precedent, the principle of stare decisis, can operate, which, according to the well-known common law doctrine, promotes the even-handed, predictable, and consistent development of legal principles, fosters reliance on judicial decisions, and contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo however stated that it was indisputable that the Judiciary, in the Fourth Republic, had generally discharged its duties creditably and responsibly, though he found himself on the wrong end of the decision in the famous election petition of 2013.
“A favourable decision on the day could have meant, perhaps, that this was my second term in office, rather than the commencement of my mandate,” he joked. The attachment of the Ghanaian people to the rule of law made it possible for us, in the New Patriotic Party, to entrust our fate to the highest court in the land in the aftermath of the disputed elections of 2012. It also enabled the country to move on, in unity and stability, after the Court handed down its verdict,” he said.