General News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017
The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, has stepped in to calm the nerves of magistrates and judges over their unpaid allowances.
According to the President of the Association of Magistrates and Judges, Mr Justice Victor Ofoe, “there was tension among magistrates and judges over unpaid allowances and benefits, but the Chief Justice had stepped in and assured us she would follow up for us to get our due”.
In an interview in Accra Tuesday, Mr Justice Ofoe said the members of the association held an emergency meeting with the Chief Justice last Monday, at which Ms Justice Akuffo promised to take up the matter for an amicable resolution.
He denied that his members had threatened to embark on a strike but indicated that “tension was high until the Chief Justice stepped in”.
He said the association believed the Chief Justice was capable of bringing finality to the issues and, accordingly, urged his members to remain calm.
Asked what the association would do if the issues were not resolved soon enough, Mr Justice Ofoe answered: “We will know what to do, but we are not ready to divulge further details to the public.”
Contrary to Justice Ofoe’s assertion that members of the Association of Magistrates and Judges had not threatened a strike, a member of the association had told the Daily Graphic on Monday that the members had, indeed, threatened a strike.
He said 500 members of the association had threatened to embark on a nationwide strike over unpaid allowances.
Another issue they were grappling with was the non-payment of benefits due superior court justices under Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution.
Superior court judges, just like Members of Parliament (MPs) and other Article 71 office holders, are entitled to some benefits after every four years of service.
“However, our members have not been paid since December 2016, although other Article 71 office holders have been settled,” the source told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra last Monday.
Article 71 office holders include the Speaker and the Deputy speakers of Parliament, MPs, the Chief Justice and other justices of the Superior Court of Judicature, the Auditor-General, the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and his/her deputies and the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF).
Others are the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and other members of the National Council for Higher Education, the Public Services Commission, the National Media Commission (NMC), the Lands Commission and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
Responding to the concerns raised by the Judges and Magistrates Association, a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, said his attention had been drawn to the issue and that he would follow up on it.
Reports reaching the Daily Graphic indicated that all Article 71 office holders who had not received their end-of-service benefits were planning to drag the government to court to demand their benefits.