The disgrace that has befallen our nation, our Bench and our profession through the exposure should give all of us a very rude shock. The solution shouldn’t lie in any superficial piece-meal and orphan treatment even as we contemplate arresting and eradicating the cancerous treatment,” former President Kufuor said.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in Kumasi Monday, former President Kufuor called for decisive measures to be taken to deal with the judges caught in the disgraceful scandal.
Last Wednesday, the Judicial Service began investigations of 22 judges implicated in a bribery scandal that has rocked the Judiciary.
More than 100 members of staff of the service are also being investigated, according to the service.
Some of the implicated judicial officials are said to have tendered in their resignation letters but they were said to have been turned down.
The officials were captured on video ostensibly taking money from litigants in what promises to be the biggest scandal ever to hit Ghana’s Judiciary.
A three-hour video detailing the forms the corruption took shows how 34 of the culprits, said to be judges at the High, the Circuit and the District courts, took bribes, including goats.
President Kufuor said unbridled corruption at all fronts was drifting the Ghanaian society apart and was endangering development.
He said impunity in the Ghanaian society had become the order of the day; a canker, which, if not checked, could endanger accountability especially of those entrusted with power.
“The governed and the government should abide by the rule of law. The rule of law should permeate every fabric of the society to ensure justice,” the former President said.
Rule of law
Mr Kufuor said the rule of law would be meaningless unless there was access to justice, adding that justice should not be defined on the basis of affordability otherwise the poor and the marginalised in society would suffer.
He said the rule of law and justice required a strong Judiciary and a robust and fearless media to ensure a fair society.
The former President called for the need to reform the court process to reduce the backlog of cases.
He challenged the Judiciary to simplify the process and offer alternative dispute mechanism to serve justice with dispatch.
Mr Kufuor touched on a number of issues, including the call on civil society to help and advocate on behalf of the marginalised and voiceless in society and laws that were investment-friendly to attract more investors.
Obey or resign
For his part, the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr Dominic Ayine, issued a strong warning to the staff of the Judicial Service who could not live up to the constitutional, ethical and moral standards of the service to resign or they would be forced out.
“Any court clerk or bailiff who fails to comply should resign or be forced out,” the deputy minister said.
Dr Ayine said judges should be made to recite Article 40 of the Magna Carta each day before assuming duty to remind them of their responsibility to dispense justice.
Check before becoming a judge
The President of the Ghana Bar Association, Nene Amegatcher, encouraged members not be to deterred by the scandal but continue to submit applications to become judges and magistrates because of the expansion of infrastructure and the likely fallout from the ongoing investigations.
But he warned that those interested in migrating to become judges should check themselves and fully assess whether they could stand up to the expectations against the backdrop of the ongoing corruption allegation.