Speaking over the weekend at the NDC’s Lawyers Conference, the former president accused President Akufo-Addo of appointing members of his party to the bench to influence decisions in their favour.
According to the former president, some of the NDC lawyers should ready themselves to take up positions on the bench to balance out its composition.
He said, “Our lawyers, some of you must be prepared to go onto the bench, I know that some of you have very lucrative legal practices you will not want to leave and go onto the bench.
“But you can see what the current President has done; he appointed the largest number of judges onto the bench. More than 80 towards hundred and counting.
“He’s packed the court and we know that they’ve packed the court because they want to avoid accountability after they have left office.
“So all manner of people who have been known to be partisan, to have been executives of their party who are in the legal profession have been leapfrogged onto the Superior courts and other places.”
Speaking to JoyNews in reaction to the statement, the Public Relations Officer for the Ghana Bar Association, Saviour Kudze, described the comments as ill-informed, insisting a person’s political affiliation does not stop them from becoming judges.
“I will say first and foremost, the unfortunate and improper comment. I don’t know how he came to that conclusion. There’s nothing wrong with former president Mahama advising a group of lawyers who have identified themselves as NDC lawyers to take up an appointment on the bench.
“But to make the allegation that the bench has now been packed with NPP-aligned judges that is unfortunate. Mr. Mahama is a man of influence and whatever he says carries a lot of weight, but he must say it with evidence and with a lot of conviction. And the evidence is even more important than the conviction. If you want to be appointed to the bench, there are two critical things they must look out for in you; your moral uprightness and your knowledge of the law.
“I am yet to know of a requirement that will ask you of your political affiliation, political orientation, ideology and membership of a political party. I don’t know of it. The fact that a lawyer is a politician does not mean he cannot be appointed as a judge. As we speak now, there are many judges or some judges who were political party executives not necessarily NPPs, even though there’s a sitting high court judge who is a former member of parliament on the ticket of the NDC.
“Did they refuse to appoint that person because he was in politics? No, because they were not looking at his political affiliation, not at all. That comment must be condemned,” he explained.
Saviour Kudze added that it made no sense why the former president would condemn what he describes as a wrong act and then in the same breath propose to entrench the same.
“Look, basically he doesn’t like what is currently happening, why does he want to come and perpetuate it? It means he’s not coming to do a reform meanwhile he was talking about reform. If you want to reform a situation that you don’t like do you come to continue it? I don’t think so,” he said.
The Ghana Bar Association says such comments must cease as they poison the minds of citizens against the courts and erode trust in the judiciary.
“People with high influence of the stature of Mr. Mahama shouldn’t be saying this. Don’t forget he’s a candidate now vying to rule this country. Should he win this election, he’s coming to superintend on all these institutions.
“If you begin to say things like this about the institutions that you are yearning to come and superintend over does it augur well for our development as a state? That is why I am saying that you have made certain allegations assuming and not admitting they’re correct, why are you coming to perpetuate them?” he said.