Chief Justice, Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, her successor, Justice Mawulor Dotse and Justices of the Supreme Court, have publicly attacked the renowned law Professor, Raymond Atuguba, for suggesting that their judgments over the years, have been influenced by partisan politics.
The Chief Justice in response to the findings said that Prof. Atuguba should “add a little salt” to the findings before releasing them, because they are dangerous to the Ghanaian society and environment unlike the American society.
Presenting findings from a research work he conducted, Prof. Atuguba, last Thursday at the 2018 GIMPA Law Conference explained that, he analysed one hundred political cases in Ghana and found that the voting patterns of the Supreme Court Judges favoured the parties which appointed them.
This got the judges, including Chief Justice and Justice Dotse present, angry and throwing tantrums.
This is not the first time that, the voting patterns of the Supreme Court judges have come under scrutiny. Ex-Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata, four years ago, made a similar observation about another Supreme Court judge, Justice Anin Yeboah.
Mr. Tsikata, an academic and also lawyer, had noted that, Justice Anin Yeboah, had always allowed his political affiliations to cloud his judgment. This was shortly after the Election Petition hearing at the Supreme Court.
In that matter, Justice Anin Yeboah, had voted in favour the petitioners, the then NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.
According to Prof Atuguba “It is not a coincidence that this happened…and it will soon be discovered by the general populace and it may be too late then to gain public trust and respect for the court. The time to act is now.”
But Prof Atuguba’s findings scraped nerves and angered the justices of the apex court.
Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, described the research as alien to Ghana and wants him to “add a little salt” to the findings before making it public. Many see this as an attempt to have the facts twisted.
“It is an American type of research that you have done…that’s fine, but please be careful what you are importing into our environment. They [Americans] are used to that, we are not. I don’t think there was a single judge who agreed with what you were saying,” she said.
According to her, politicians were always going to appoint judges until Ghana gets an independent candidate as president, but irrespective of the judge’s political affiliation, their judgments should be sound and grounded in law, adding people can think whatever they like those though are dangerous when they receive endorsement from a professor.
Justice Jones Dotse, was even more critical. He is certain the entire research is an affront to the judges.
“You are entitled to your views,” he tells Prof Atugaba, adding, “I think it is an insult of the highest order.”
An Appeals Court judge, Justice Irene Charity Larbie, also said Raymond Atuguba’s research is a direct attack on the integrity of justices of the Supreme Court.
But US-based Ghanaian professor, Stephen Kwaku Asare, has described as “an attack on academic freedom”, the Supreme Court justices’ negative reaction towards a damning research which points to politically-motivated judgments.
He said, the research by the University of Ghana (UG) Law Professor only provided empirical data to confirm popular perception that political appointments of judges, have influenced their voting patterns on political cases.
Prof. Atuguba, said he analysed the voting pattern of judges of the apex court on 100 political cases from 1993 to 2018 and revealed a “staggering pattern.”
The ex-Executive Secretary to President John Dramani Mahama, says he is not surprised at the negative reaction his latest study on the work of the judiciary has elicited.
He said it was a known fact that, anytime critical analyses are conducted, they meet opposition from interest groups who may not be pleased with the findings.
He has suggested the bitter reaction to his research, which analysed the voting pattern of Supreme Court judges from 1993 to 2018, is normal.
He insisted that, the negative reaction from the judiciary is not new to Prof Atuguba, saying “words are just nothing to me”.
“The first time I did a critical analysis of the police the next morning eight fully armed officers were dispatched by the IGP to arrest me from my office,” he said.
He has done another research on all the Ministers who have served the country from 1993 to 2018 and cross-tabulated their ethnic background with the presidents who appointed them. The result, he said is staggering, but he is not releasing it now, because of possible backlash from the public.
“What should we do with these analyses? Should we stop doing them, should we have another way of funnelling it to the public, what should we do?” he asked.
“I will never insult anyone, not to talk of the judges, I am engaged in a critical analysis of our political institutions [and] critical analysis always meets opposition,” he added.