Chief Justice nominee promises “wonders” at Judiciary if…

Accra, Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, Presidential nominee for the position of Chief Justice said with enough resources, there would be a wide range of transformation and improvement to enhance quality delivery of justice in Ghana.

While strongly insist on the independence of the judiciary, Justice Akuffo, prayed for enough resources from the government to the realm, with the promise that you see wonders (at the Judiciary) if the budgets are not cut.

Her answer was in response to why budgets to the Judiciary should not be capped, when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on for vetting.

The committee had set June 19, 2017 for the vetting of the Harvard trained lawyer, who turns 68 next December 20, but rescheduled the vetting to this week to avoid keeping the position vacant for long.

President Akufo-Addo in May announced Justice Akuffo as his choice of successor to Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood who retired on June 8, 2017.

Justice Akuffo would be the 13th Chief Justice in the history of the Republic of Ghana if passed, and she will be the second woman in that position.

According to the Chief Justice nominee, annual estimates on the resources to be provided by the Government to the Judiciary should not in any way be cut, but approved to ensure that adequate funds and resources were made available to the Judicial Service.

Among the wide range of transformation she spoke of were; improving the physical structures of the service, including the courts, adequate remuneration for judges and magistrates, capacity development, and training of paralegals for the Justice for All Programme.

She indicated that she was concerned about her integrity, and also passionate about the development and stability of Ghana, stressing the need for systems to work.

She cautioned that the breakdown of the judicial system in any country, would wreak chaos for the nation.

I am extremely passionate about everything to do with Ghana, and I am extremely proud of the strides we have made under the current constitution. It has its legal issues and problems but we have managed to work with it and hopefully the part that needs amendments will one day be amended and we will move on to the next level.

The other thing I will like to say is that I believe that even if in our endeavours, whether in the work place or in our personal lives, we cannot hit total perfection, we can strive to reach it, so, in terms of my attitude to work, I have always believed that one must always ask the question: ‘Is this as good as it gets or can it get better?’ And if it can get better, how is that to be done?

She added: Because of some of my past employment experiences, I have also come to believe in systems, in having proper protocols, proper procedures, spelt out operations systems, so that whether some individual is there or not what needs to be done gets done because all the wisdom is not on somebody’s head and if somebody suddenly leaves an employment life must go on as though the person is still around.

Justice Akufo distanced herself from mob justice and said effective and quality delivery of justice in the courts would help address the growing incidents ‘mob justice’ in the country.

The other side of mob justice is the delay of justice. The other side of justice delayed is justice denied, is that justice hurried is justice buried.

It is being able to strike that balance, that is the area of concern for the judicial system and for the judiciary, because so long as there is mob justice, it means something is not going right. At least, we in the judiciary will do our optimal to ensure that we are not the cause of mob justice, she added.

The notorious phenomenon is gaining some currency in the country, but the nominee, who said she was appointed to the Supreme Court, with Mr Justice William Atugubah, on the same day in November 1995, promised to work to ensure that as much as it depended on her outfit, mob justice was minimised.

When asked her position on death penalty, she implied that the statute books would have to determine that.

That’s what is in the books, she said.

Justice Akuffo however declined to comment on the Montie Three case, on which she was the presiding judge.

She said she was uncomfortable commenting delivered justice, explaining that I am not comfortable about being called upon to justify a judgment that we have delivered, but in general terms, concerning the scope of the exercising of the contempt power or labelling something to be contemptuous, I believe that each case will dictate the outcome.

During her judgment at the time, said the owners were careless in their submissions to the court, as they appeared to have little or no interest in what transpired on their radio station.

She was of the view that media owners would take keen interest in what is published in the media outlets, and in an answer to question on the suit of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) against the National Media Commission (NMC), the Justice, explaining some aspects of the panel’s reasoning, said they considered aspects of the NMC’s regulations to be too broad and only asked them to return to the court with specifics.

The balance is that, in the matter against the media commission, regulations were being made which were over-broad without specificity and carried all kinds of sanctions, therefore, what we were calling on the commission to do was to go back to the drawing board.

In a unanimous decision in November 2016, a seven-member panel, led by Justice Akuffo, held that certain regulations in the NMC (Content Standards) Regulations 2015 (L.I. 2224) amounted to censorship and contravened Article 162 Clause (4) of the 1992 Constitution.

Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) had dragged the NMC and the Attorney-General to court over aspects of the regulation.

GIBA claimed that the regulations were an affront to freedom of speech and the rights and freedoms granted to the media under Article 162 of the 1992 Constitution.

She said NMC’s Content law was struck down by the Supreme Court because it was not specific, and that the regulations being made by the media regulator was overly-broad and created constitutional problems.

She said the apex court’s ruling was for the law to be made clearer to elicit the right response from media houses.

What we were calling on the Commission was to go back to the drawing board and become more specific, she said.

The NMC’s law, which was to compel media houses to submit their programmes to the Commission for approval, was suspended following a ruling by the apex court last year.

In the law, media houses that default in the submission of their programme guides to the Commission would pay a fine or serve between two and five-year jail term.

Justice Akuffo was against calls for the Ghana Law School to be scrapped.

What happens in the universities at the faculties of law is that, they educate people academically on the law as a theory � on knowledge of the law but the Ghana School of Law is a professional training facility. That is where the theories learnt in classrooms are supposed to be taught from a more practical point of view and that is how it has been, she explained.

She expressed her interest in effective quality justice because it covered the assurance that the public has that when they come to the hall of justice they will receive or access justice.

There is still a lot of work to do that is one of the continuous areas I am willing to work on, she said.

Mr Justice Atugubah, Prof Justice Date-Baah, Mr Justice Allan Brobbey, some Supreme Court Judges, members of the Ghana Bar Association, Traditional Rulers and members of the 1967 Year Group of the Wesley Girls High School were present to give moral support to the Chief Justice nominee.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Read More >Chief Justice nominee promises “wonders” at Judiciary if…

2,160.08 hectares put under maize and rice cultivation in Ashanti

Kumasi, A total of 2,160.08 hectares of land had been put under maize and rice cultivation in the Ashanti Region under the Planting for food and jobs programme.

Mr. Joseph Faalong, the Regional Director of the Food and Agriculture Ministry (MOFA), said 1,259.2 hectares of the land had been planted with maize and the remaining 900.88 hectares, cultivated with rice.

In all, 4,456 farmers from across 30 districts were involved in the programme, designed to boost food security, give jobs and help to transform the livelihood of many.

He told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the farmers had been supplied with quality seeds to assure them of improved crop yield.

He indicated that so far 5,401.2 kilograms (kg) of seeds had been supplied to them.

MOFA has targeted to make available 14,916.85 kg of improved planting seeds to the farmers in the region under the programme.

Mr. Faalong also touched on fertilizer distribution and said already 34,522 kg � made up of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) and Urea had been distributed.

He spoke of strong extension services support to the farmers to ensure the success of the programme in the region.

He said they were eager to see substantial increase in food production and returns to the farmer.

The Planting for food and jobs programme, has been launched by the government as part of an aggressive drive to transform the nation’s agriculture.

It is expected to raise maize production by 30 per cent, rice by 49 per cent, sorghum, 28 per cent and soya bean, 25 per cent.

The programme is also envisaged to create 750,000 direct and indirect employment.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Read More >2,160.08 hectares put under maize and rice cultivation in Ashanti

Sustain momentum of the campaign to keep adolescents safe

Kumasi, Dr. Alexis Nang-Beifubah, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, has called for intensification of the campaign to keep the adolescent girl safe and protect them from getting pregnant.

He said everything should be done to ensure that they had access to sexual and reproductive health services.

He was speaking at a review meeting of the Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health Project (GHARH) organized by the National Population Council (NPC) in Kumasi.

The project is being jointly implemented by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana Education Service (GES), National Youth Authority (NYA), Hope for the Future Generation, Ghana (HFFG) and the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG).

The United Kingdom (UK) Government is providing the funding and the goal is help the adolescent to have adequate knowledge about reproductive health to make the right decisions and choices.

The GHARH project is being implemented in the Brong-Ahafo and three selected districts in the Ashanti Region � Kumasi, Asokore-Mampong and Atwima-Kwanwoma.

Dr. Beifubah underlined the need for well-targeted and clearly focused education to bring down child mothers and stop girls from dropping out of school because of pregnancy.

He encouraged all stakeholders to up their game and accept to go the extra mile to reach out to the targeted group.

They should constantly undertake performance review to make sure that they were on the right track.

He said it was refreshing that 15,000 adolescents in the region had benefitted from reproductive health services within a space of five months.

At the same time, the number of adolescent health corners increased from 25 to 60.

Madam Afua Turkson of the Research Department of the NPC, stated that there had been increased awareness of the adolescent of reproductive health and related issues.

The involvement and enthusiasm shown by queen mothers in the implementation of the project, she said was encouraging.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Read More >Sustain momentum of the campaign to keep adolescents safe