The presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, has served notice that he will appoint lawyers in the NDC to the bench.
His justification is that such appointments would “balance out” the current state of the judiciary, which he alleges is deliberately packed with “NPP lawyers.”
He has since encouraged lawyers in the NDC to prepare for appointments to the bench, once he returns to Jubilee House again, as President of the Nation.
Former President Mahama was addressing NDC lawyers at a conferencevia zoom on Saturday, September 2, 2023.
He alleged that President Akufo-Addo has appointed over 80 judges to the bench and is looking to appoint more to protect the interests of the NPP.
Mahama acknowledged that the NDC lawyers have lucrative legal practices and do not want to leave and go onto the bench, but stressed the need to reconsider that thinking in the interest of the party.
He said, “You can see what the current president has done. He has appointed the biggest number of judges onto the bench. It is more than 80 towards 100 and counting. He has packed the court and we know that they have packed the court because they want to avoid accountability after they have left office.”
Mahama continued, “And so, we must be prepared as NDC legal persons to also go onto the bench so that we can balance out the judiciary. Currently, the judiciary is packed with NPP-inclined judges because this government has carried out a deliberate policy of putting their people on the bench. So, I encourage some of you to look at careers on the bench so that we can balance out what the current situation is.”
According to Mahama, the judiciary needs reforms to bolster its reputation and make it “an independent” institution, to build trust especially for foreign investors.He called on the NDC conference to discuss how his government, as executive, and the judiciary could work in tandem, claiming he would not shield corruption.
The 1992 Constitution is silent on the maximum number of judges to be appointed to the Supreme Court, but speaks on the minimum and numbers that qualify to be called to the bench.
Article 128 (2) of the constitution says “The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and not less than nine other Justices of the Supreme Court.”
The (4) states that “A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court unless he is of high moral character and proven integrity and is of not less than fifteen years’ standing as a lawyer.”
According to Article 136 (1) (b), the Court of Appeal shall consist of the Chief Justice and “not less than ten Justices of the Court of Appeal.”
The (3) of Article 136 states that a person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Justice of the Court of Appeal unless he is of high moral character and proven integrity and is of not less than twelve years’ standing as a lawyer.
Article 139 (1) says the High Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and “not less than twenty Justices of the High Court” and such other Justices of the Superior Court as the Chief Justice may request to sit in the High Court for any period.
The (4) states that to qualify to be appointed as a justice of the High Court, one must have high moral character and must have practiced as a lawyer for at least ten years.
Article 144 states that the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President, acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament.
The other Supreme Court 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.
Justices of the High and Appeal Courts and Chairmen of the Regional Tribunal shall be appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Judicial Council.