Controversies Shake Ghana’s Justice System Amid AG and Chief Justice Scandals


Ghana’s justice system is once again under intense scrutiny following a series of controversial events involving key judicial figures. In the midst of ongoing concerns about the Attorney General allegedly coaching a witness without the presence of the defendant’s lawyer and subsequently refusing to resign, Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo has added to the national outrage with a contentious move of her own.

In a letter dated June 30, 2024, addressed to the President, Justice Torkornoo wrote, “I write to respectfully REQUEST that the following judges be appointed to the Supreme Court of Ghana.” The letter included five names, one of whom is the judge presiding over the highly controversial Ambulance case involving the Attorney General.

The process for appointing Supreme Court judges in Ghana is clearly outlined in Article 144(2) of the 1992 Constitution: “The other SC Justices shall be appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Judicial Council in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament.” As the Chair of the Judicial Council, Chief Justice Torkornoo’s letter notably did not mention the Council’s involvement, raising questions about the legitimacy and motivation behind her recommendations.

Prominent legal scholar Professor Kwaku Asare has extensively addressed the constitutional and legal implications of this issue, highlighting the potential breaches in due process.

Concerns are mounting among citizens and legal experts alike. Critics argue that the proposed appointments would swell the number of Supreme Court justices to 20, a stark contrast to the United States, which has only nine justices despite a population ten times larger than Ghana’s. Given Ghana’s economic struggles and its reliance on financial aid from the World Bank, such an expansion is seen by many as imprudent.

The credibility of Ghana’s Supreme Court has already been tarnished by several controversial rulings in recent years. The removal of Electoral Commission officials on dubious grounds, the handling of the last election petition, and the dismissal of Auditor General Domelovo by the President have all contributed to growing skepticism about the judiciary’s impartiality.

National Security Minister Kan Dapaah and former President John Mahama have both issued warnings about the judiciary’s apparent partisan leanings. Historically, Ghana’s legal fraternity has boasted illustrious figures such as John Mensah Sarbah, J.B. Danquah, and Justices Korsah, Akufo-Addo, and Van Lare, who stood up for justice and the rule of law even under pressure.

Today, however, many believe that the legal profession has shifted focus from principles and patriotism to monetary gains and political expediency. Only a few voices, including Professor Asare, Dean Raymond Atuguba, Taddeus Sory, and Samson Lardy Anyenini, continue to challenge the status quo, often facing victimization and ostracism for their efforts.

Reflecting on the words of lawyer Atta Akyea, “The Supreme Court should not be a mercy chamber but a seat of Justice,” there is a growing call for the legal fraternity to return to its foundational values. Ghana’s judiciary, now seen by many as part of a larger network of powerful individuals driven by impunity and greed, faces a critical juncture. The need for a collective call to action, both in the streets and at the voting booths, is more pressing than ever.

As the nation grapples with these judicial controversies, citizens are urged to remember the importance of holding those in power accountable and ensuring that justice and the rule of law remain the cornerstones of Ghana’s democracy.

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