President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has paid glowing tribute to the late Chief Justice, George Kingsley Acquah, on the 10th anniversary of his death.
At a solemn ceremony held at the Ridge Church, on Saturday, March 25, and attended by several dignitaries, including the Vice President of the Republic, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia; the most senior judge of the Supreme Court, Justice William Atuguba; the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo; and the widow of the late Chief Juctice, Mrs. Jane Acquah, President Akufo-Addo described the late Chief Justice as a “respectable and decent man.”
He indicated that Justice Acquah, until his appointment as a Justice of the High Court in 1989, was “one of the most diligent lawyers in Cape Coast and the courts in which he practised.”
On the bench, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the late Chief Justice distinguished himself as an eminent jurist, and rose to become a Justice of the Supreme Court in 1995.
“In my practice as a lawyer, I appeared before him as a member of the panel of the Supreme Court in cases that have shaped our constitutional jurisprudence, including Mensah v. Attorney-General [1997-98] 1 GLR 227 and Republic v. Tommy Thompson Books Limited and Others (No 1) [1997-98] 1 GLR 611,” he said.
He continued, “As Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, I appeared before him, when he sat as a member of the panel of the Supreme Court in Amidu v. Kufuor and Others [2001-2002] 2 GLR 510 and Tsikata v. Attorney-General [2001-2002] 2 GLR 1, where he was a part of the original minority, and subsequent majority on review of a case that gripped the public attention of our nation.”
With all these constitutionally decided cases in the late Chief Justice’s armoury of judgments, President Akufo-Addo noted that “it came as no surprise to me, and many others in the legal fraternity, when my former boss, President John Agyekum Kufuor, appointed him as the eleventh Chief Justice of the Republic in July 2003, an appointment that was fitting for a man who was so deeply committed to the principle of judicial independence.”
As Chief Justice, President Akufo-Addo stated that Justice Acquah “helped champion the efforts to reform and codify the laws of Ghana’s customary dispute resolution. He will be remembered for his initiative to improve the excellence of the Judicial Service, and justice delivery in Ghana. And I am pleased to see that his efforts and initiatives have been continued, even more vigorously by his successor, Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.”
Chief Justice Acquah’s excellent service to the public, the President added, earned him the award, Order of the Star of Ghana, the highest honour in Ghana.
In concluding, President Akufo-Addo noted with concern the integrity of our judicial system, especially as “it was badly damaged a couple of years ago by a video exposé put together by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.”
Confidence in the judicial system of any country, the President indicated, is necessary for a thriving democracy and economic growth. He, thus, urged all members of the bar, the bench and the public to guard the integrity of the judicial process jealously.
“I believe that it is time for us to accept that justice delivery is a service and just like any other service, the customer must be satisfied with the entire process of the service, in this case, justice. When we have an efficient delivery of justice through our courts, investors, domestic and foreign, will be encouraged to invest their resources in Ghana because they can be assured of an efficient and business-friendly judicial system. The late Chief Justice Acquah was a firm supporter of the introduction of technology in the operations of the judicial system,” he added.