General News of Tuesday, 19 December 2017
National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament (MP) for Juaboso Constituency in the Western Region, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, is unhappy with the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo’s handling of a case he filed against the Gender Minister, Otiko Djaba.
“The merit and demerit of the case were not heard,” he expressed his disappointment after their first appearance in court ended on interesting note, where titles became the focal point with the Chief Justice, chiding the two MPs for adding the title ‘honourable’ to their names in a writ they filed before the court.
She also took them on, for not adding the title ‘honourable’ to the name of the Gender Minister, Otiko Djaba, whom she has erroneously described as an MP.
She had also taken on the MPs lawyer, Godwin Edudzi Tameklo, for not having a valid license from the Solicitor General to qualify him to practice as a lawyer as of the time he filed the writ on behalf of his clients, saying the writ was “incompetent”.
Mr. Tameklo’s argument in court was that he had applied for a renewal of his licence, but it was not ready as of the time he filed the case on behalf of the plaintiffs.
Interestingly at time of this encounter, he had a valid license to practice.
Justice Akuffo, has a penchant for using the Supreme Court bench to launch unwarranted attacks at the stalwarts of the NDC with the recent one being the conviction of the Montie 3, where she took personalities, including the then sitting President, John Dramani Mahama and tongue lashed them.
She had earlier lined up NDC bigwigs such as former Presidential Advisor, Ato Ahwoi and Harry Zakour, citing them for criminal contempt in the Montie FM contempt case, although they had no day-to-day role in the content of the radio programme called, “Pampaso”.
They were dragged to the Supreme Court in their capacities as directors of Network Broadcasting Company (NBC), operators of Montie FM and Radio Gold, on the insistence of Sophia Akuffo, who was the Presiding Judge.
Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi and Kwesi Kyei Atuah, were fined a total of 30,000 cedis and given a day to pay or end up in jail. Harry Zakour, owner of the frequency, was also fined 30,000 cedis.
The panelists, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and the host, Salifu Maase, were thrown into jail for four months.
Mr. Mintah Akandoh and the NDC MP for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey, went to court in February 2017, challenging the legality of Madam Otiko Djaba’s appointment as Minister for Gender, Women and Children’s Affairs, due to her failure to undertake the mandatory National Service.
They prayed the court to declare her appointment and swearing-in as Minister null and void, due to what they described as the breaching of certain aspects of the Constitution pertaining to the National Service Act. However, a seven member panel of justices presided over by the Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, dismissed the case on Tuesday.
Speaking on Citi FM’s Eyewitness News, Mr. Akandoh, recalled that the Chief Justice, was displeased after she noticed the title ‘honourable’ preceded the names of the MPs in the writ.
The MP said, the CJ subsequently indicated that the use of ‘honourable’ in the court is “dishonourable.”
Mr. Akandoh, thus believes this might have influenced the panel’s decision to dismiss the case.
He nonetheless disagreed with Madam Akuffo’s comments, saying their suit was not aimed at seeking interpretation of titles.
“When we got to court, the Chief Justice indicated that she was not happy about the title honourable and she used words like ‘so called honourable’ and ‘dishonourable’.
She was emotionally charged. I thought that she could do that without emotions. I do not see my crime. In any case, I did not issue that writ, it is my lawyer, who is an officer of the court, and even the clerk of the Supreme Court did same.”
“Excuse me to say that, we did not go to court for the interpretation of titles. Not honourable, not her ladyship, not my lord, neither did we go to court for the interpretation of the title her Excellency. But you see, I am not saying the Chief Justice cannot express her opinion on other issues in this country, but I feel that the way and manner in which she handled us in court was not right..”
He said, the Chief Justice even contradicted herself in court, when she reprimanded them for preceding their names with the title “honourable” but queried them for not adding that same title to Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba’s name in their writ.
“In one breath, the Chief Justice says it not right for our names to be prefixed with the title honourable, and so she had issues with it. In another breath, the Chief Justice enquired why we did not prefix Otiko Djaba’s name with honourable..My problem is whether it is about the title ‘honourable’ or because someone was not addressed as such.”
Mr. Akandoh, said he intends to put in writing what he describes as a “protest letter” to the Chief Justice, expressing his displeasure with developments in the court.
He also indicated that he would go back to the court for the interpretation on the National Service Act, despite the court’s judgement.