The President of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG), has revealed the arduous process adjudicators go through in order to have their allowances paid to them.
The highly respected Justice Senyo Dzamefe, said payment of allowances for service they had rendered, has now become a battleground, as members of the judiciary have to sometimes call in favours from people at the Presidency before they get paid.
“We have to fall on friends at the seat of government to push for such allowances to be paid,” he said on Wednesday.
The revelation from the AMJG, comes with reports available to The Herald that a businessman linked to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) flew some seven High Court and Court of Appeal judges, drawn from Accra and Kumasi to Dubai, and exposed them to luxurious holidaying during the legal break.
It is not clear, what motivated the businessman to send the jurists to the expensive holiday destination in the emirates, but the Dubai trip, which The Herald is working on, is just a reminder of how vulnerable some Ghanaian judges and magistrates are.
The funny side of that trip was when one of the judges was sent back home by officers of Ghana’s Immigration Service because of issues with his passport.
His colleagues went and enjoyed themselves with booze, food, women and shopped on the hefty allowance doled out to them by the said businessman.
Speaking at the Association’s Annual General Meeting, Justice Dzamefe, described it as saddening as it hinders the autonomy of the judicial arm of government.
“It is sad that judges in Ghana will have to fight every year for their legitimate allowances to be paid. It is sad that the leadership of the Association has to personally trek to the Ministry of Finance, Controller and Accountant General Department, Auditor-General’s Department to fight before allowances are paid.
“We have to fall on friends at the seat of government to push for such allowances to be paid”.
The Association’s President further noted that the erratic mode of payment of allowances has left many judges and magistrates frustrated.
He indicated “We feel disrespected about the way our allowances are paid as if it is a favour being done to us.”
Mentioning the fuel allowance as an example, Justice Dzamefe said no judge in the country has received such remuneration since January 2021.
He stated that due to the delay in payment, adjudicators are forced to pay for fuel from their already taxed salary and when the government is ready to refund, it is taxed again.
This, according to him, means judges pay double tax for fuel alone.
“The courts insist very much on timelines in litigations since they are creatures of statute and yet, same is overlooked it comes to payment of allowances to us,” he said.
Describing delayed payment of allowances as the judiciary’s biggest issue, Justice Dzamefe, appealed to the government to handle the matter amicably to ensure the smooth running of the arm.