Feature Article of Sunday, 14 April 2013
Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, April 12, 2013
Retired Supreme Court Justice Francis Kpegah’s legal action against the NPP’s Akufo-Addo at the Fast Track Division of the High Court will begin being heard on April 23, barring any hitch.
The Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim, and the Application, Request to Admit Fact, under Order 23, r 2(1) of the C.I.47, and the reliefs found on the writ of summons are clear on what Justice Kpegah is challenging Akufo-Addo on (for impersonating one W.A.D. Akufo-Addo, who is on the Roll of Lawyers as number 1190, among others).
And Akufo-Addo has already admitted that he is that William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, paving the way for the motive behind Justice Kpegah’s suit to be revealed when the case opens.
Some have questioned the justification for this suit. Akufo-Addo himself has done so, claiming in his response to the suit that he had appeared several times before Justice Kpegah to defend clients in cases and that if Justice Kpegah knew all along that he wasn’t what he claimed to be (a lawyer called to the English Bar in July 1971 and enrolled in the General Legal Council on July 8, 1975, and, therefore, qualified to practise law in Ghana), what took him so long to do what he is now doing?
Others have quickly concluded that what Justice Kpegah is doing is to serve the interests of the NDC or that he is an Ewe and is envious of the accomplishments of a non-Ewe (Read the Ghanaweb opinion piece by one Okoampa-Ahoofe to see things for yourselves).
Still, some have questioned the motive for Justice Kpegah’s suit, which is what I want to tackle in this opinion piece. I do so, not because as an Ewe, I want to join Justice Kpegah to hound and haunt Akufo-Addo but because I am interested in helping find a closure to the spate of allegations against this one man who looms large on the political and legal scenes (for more woe than weal).
Let’s consider some of the possible motives that some have raised as informing Justice Kpegah’s suit.
1. A conscientious citizen doing his duty to state and citizens, seeking the “truth” (that he claims to know) to be established about Akufo-Addo, the “legal luminary” that he is to his followers.
2. Vindictiveness— because of the raw deal given him on the bench, having his junior (Justice Georgina Theodora Wood) elevated over him as the Chief Justice of Ghana by Kufuor? If so, then, he must be really peeved to not want to let go many years after that event had happened when Akufo-Addo was the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General.
Justice Kpegah must really have a big garden in his heart for nursing such a seed of grievance and enmity. Now, the seedling has matured and produced poisonous fruit ready for harvesting. Will he turn this fruit into hemlock and force down Akufo-Addo’s throat?
3. Justice Kpegah is certainly more inclined to the NDC than he would ever be to the NPP. Thus, there is a strong motivation for him at the level of partisan politics to see Akufo-Addo (as Flagbearer of the NPP and the defeated Presidential candidate fighting tooth and nail to be declared Ghana’s President) as an appropriate target. He seems bent on thwarting Akufo-Addo’s efforts to realize his ambition. This suit is the missile with which to shoot him down from his lofty heights of egoism.
Willy-nilly, Justice Kpegah is on retirement and has nothing to gain or lose in life. It seems he knows where he is but won’t want to depart this world without disburdening himself of what he has held close to his chest about Akufo-Addo all these years. From his own statement declaring his suit against Akufo-Addo, he did say that he took this action after painstaking investigations and his conviction that something “fishy” exists about Akufo-Addo’s professional stature that he must answer to in court.
Justice Kpegah is already 77 years old and Akufo-Addo just chalked 69. Two old men with much clout in the legal profession are gearing up to face off in court. We will see who will be knocked down and out.
4. Timing: Some are asking why Justice Kpegah timed his suit for this period. Is it meant to achieve any politically motivated objective? Of course, we know that Akufo-Addo is in court to seek redress after being defeated at Election 2012. His case has attracted so much public interest as to dominate public discourse over the past four months. No one dreamt of what lay ahead.
All of a sudden, Justice Kpegah has surfaced from a self-effacing retirement life to overshadow that Supreme Court case, putting Akufo-Addo on the spot, and raising the stakes about his credibility. No doubt, any mention of Akufo-Addo’s name now evokes more of this lawsuit on impersonation against him than the election petition that he has filed at the Supreme Court to keep himself in the limelight.
Whether for good or bad, Justice Kpegah’s lawsuit has cast Akufo-Addo in a “strange” light, more so when he is out of the public domain, making his presence felt all this while with only one statement wishing Ghanaians a happy Easter and expressing regret at the death of Margaret Thatcher. Even when his birthday fell on Friday, March 29, he remained in the shadows.
Apparently, his followers have been really active, doing overtime through the open insults that they have hurled at Justice Kpegah as part of the campaign of vilification that they have mounted against him, probably to intimidate him into discontinuing the legal challenge or to create doubts about his credibility and prejudice the upcoming determination of his suit.
Justice Kpegah’s suit has overshadowed that election petition and sent him scrambling for documents to confirm his professional status. So far, only NOTES have emerged because he claims to have lost his qualifying and enrolment certificates. Our investigation into this matter is in full throttle and we will definitely make known whatever emerges. It is all in the attempt to establish the truth.
Then, the actual dancing will begin. Those dancing themselves lame through all manner of antics, insults, and name-calling had better save their energy and limbs for that moment, which promises to be thrilling.
Of course, the onus lies on Justice Kpegah to prove his case against Akufo-Addo, no matter what his motive for suing him might be; if this suit is just a house of cards that Justice Kpegah has mounted, it will collapse on him. If that does happen, may God bless him.
Why will he choose to do so, picking on no mean a person but the NPP’s flagbearer? Does Justice Kpegah not know the dire consequences of such a venture? If he does, why should he put his retirement life on the line?
Considering the mud into which this suit has dragged Akufo-Addo’s reputation, it will be the weirdest happening in our contemporary times if it ends just because of a fatal flaw in Justice Kpegah’s suit that the Akufo-Addo defence team is seeking to capitalize on. I suppose he isn’t too “senile” (as those insulting him have labelled him) to begin losing his bearings in the very legal landscape that has supported his life for over 42 years until he retired a few years ago to await the planned end of his life.
No matter how the matter proceeds, Justice Kpegah must brace himself up for dire consequences and take prompt steps to ensure that what he has set in motion doesn’t end up knocking him down and out in the very first second of the legal battle of wits.
As for us, we will continue to monitor the situation from afar and comment on it as and when necessary unless the Court gags us. We have the right to know how the tide flows and that’s exactly why we have positioned ourselves at vantage points to peek into the matter. We are now scrutinizing the details of information gathered from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. Whatever we see, we will report.
I shall return…
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