The church service marking the opening of the 59th Legal Year by the judiciary in Accra took an emotional twist over the weekend when Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood officially announced her impending retirement from the Bench.
She stated that her nine years of service to the country is the work of God, insisting that nothing happens by accident.
“I am here to thank the Lord for showing me so much mercy and grace. When I was appointed Chief Justice in 2007, I leant something from Jacob…and made a vow onto the Lord” she disclosed at the service, which was themed: “Responsibility and Accountability: Towards an Effective Justice Delivery System.”
The CJ and Chairperson of the General Legal Council, quoting from the scriptures, added, “…for nine good years the Lord has been faithful; He has faithfully kept me; He has faithfully protected me and He has faithfully ushered me into this sanctuary to seek His favour.”
Mrs. Wood, while expressing gratitude to all her colleagues for their support, noted, “Because this happens to be my last Legal Year service in my official capacity, I thought I should come before the Lord and thank Him from the bottom of my heart for what He has done for me.”
She noted that the remaining eight months ahead of her before her official retirement would be the most crucial and so she needed God’s “grace and mercy.”
Justice Wood, the 24th CJ, would be remembered for spearheading key reforms in the judiciary, including allowing live television broadcast of the 2013 presidential election petition filed against President Mahama and the Electoral Commission by Nana Akufo-Addo, the 2016 presidential candidate of New Patriotic Party (NPP); his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the then party National Chairman, Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey (now deceased).
The CJ has left her name in the books of history for ordering the seemingly unyielding Electoral Commission to clean the voter register by deleting the names of persons who used the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card as proof of identification to register.
Earlier in a sermon, Rev. Prof. Andrews Seth Ayettey, Vice President, Academic Affairs, Regent University College of Science and Technology, urged the judiciary to be guided by the lessons from the Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ expose on bribery and corruption (in the judiciary).
He said the expose ought to send signals to both members of the Bench and the Bar to guard the judiciary against corruption.
“…The temptation that faced others will also face you; the bitter lessons of the past Legal Year, including the exposure of judicial corruption, teach us three things: that we should jealously guard the judiciary so that it is not to be corrupted.”
In his view, the Anas expose is also to “cause all of us to do what is right not because we are being watched, but because we know it is the right thing to do.”
Prof. Ayettey, who is also a retired Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, was emphatic that the judiciary is responsible to the people of Ghana from whom justice emanates and on whose behalf they serve.
He said the Bar and the Bench are responsible to the poor, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable, including children, orphans, widows and even those in the womb.
Prof. Aryettey urged, “Use judicial independence responsibly. Even though it is said that the law lies in the bosom of the judge, it does so for you to meditate carefully on it and interpret it correctly.”
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson