Supreme Court not “a toy” for small cases – Okudzeto

General News of Thursday, 5 March 2015


Lawyer Sam Okudzeto New

One of Ghana’s legal luminaries Sam Okudzeto believes there is no legal basis to burden the Supreme Court with the raging debate about religious rights in mission schools.

A writ has been filed at the Supreme Court to restrain the government and all its agencies and private institutions from coercing students of other faiths to attend or participate in partisan and sectional religious activities.

A citizen Gershon Nii Lamptey wants the highest court of the land to determine whether Muslim students should be forced to attend Christian services in Mission schools.

The Catholic Bishops Conference Tuesday issued a statement asking heads of all its mission schools to go ahead and enforce rules and regulations that require that all students attend mass, irrespective of their faith, so far as they have enrolled in those schools.

Lamptey in his writ said it is “unreasonable, illegitimate and/or unlawful for students attending missions schools falling under the aegis of the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education to be compelled under the guise of promoting school discipline to participate in religious activities endorsed and promoted by these mission schools when such students do not share the faiths proclaimed or promoted by these mission schools.”

However, the former boss of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has said Lamptey is on a wild goose chase because the matter is at the wrong forum.

“I don’t see any grey area anywhere for any Supreme Court action,” Okudzeto told Starr Today. “From the name you’ve given it sounds like a Christian name, so he can’t allege he is a victim or anybody has discriminated against him for him to go to the Supreme Court.”

“The Supreme Court is not a toy where for every small thing somebody dashes there for interpretation. If you are talking about the right of a person’s belief it is contained in the constitution and the remedy is in the constitution and not at the Supreme Court.”

According to him, “there is no constitutional problem arising in this country in relation to religion” to warrant Lamptey’s writ.

“The reason why I asked whether he is a Muslim is because if you come back to the protection of rights by the court, it is contained in Article 33 and either he didn’t read it or his lawyer has no knowledge of the constitutional provisions.

“That right is there. If you allege that anybody is discriminating against you, you’ll go to the court to enforce it and you don’t go for an interpretation and the court enjoined to do that is the High Court and not the Supreme Court… he is misconceived,” the veteran lawyer noted.