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Kumasi Court Shut Down …After Cape Coast   
 
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19-Jun-2014  
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Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong
 
 
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INFORMATION GATHERED by The Chronicle gives clear indications that the Court of Appeal in the Central Region may not be the only legal entity which is experiencing operational difficulties as a result of lack of funds.

The paper has picked up signals that similar challenges may be confronting the Kumasi branch of the Court, which has since last month been inactive. A rather busy Court of Appeal Complex, located within the heart of the city, was unusually quiet with virtually no activity, when the paper visited the premises yesterday.

Information, however, indicates that the situation had been so since the beginning of the month, following failure by the government to release subventions to the Judiciary Service to carry out its operations.

Ashanti Regional President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr. Yaw Boafo confirmed to the paper that his office has received a letter from the Supervising Judge that the Kumasi Court of Appeal, which has additional oversight over Brong Ahafo Region and the three northern regions, may not be sitting on cases between now and the end of July for lack of funds.

The Ashanti Regional President of the GBA stated that he has been asked to notify members about the directives which according to him, comes with serious inconveniences and ramifications.

The Chronicle has gathered that officials of the Court have received directives that all pending cases must be referred to Accra for hearing, though no official reason has been assigned for the rather strange decision. The Registrar of the Court, Nana Broni, told The Chronicle in an interview yesterday that he has received orders from the Chief Justice to file all adjourned cases pending at the court and referred them to Accra for hearing.

Though the Registrar of the Court, who appeared taciturn with information, justified the decision as a normal one and ruled out the assertion that it may be due to non-availability of funds to carry out operations, the paper has information that all may not be well with the Kumasi office of the second highest legal body.

“I have not received any information about financial challenges, I was only informed to refer all adjournment cases pending before the court to Accra which I am in the process of doing; this is not something unusual, the CJ can direct as and when she deems it fit,” Nana Broni noted.

A Kumasi-based Legal Practitioner, Mr. Ohene Amankwaah Djan, told this reporter that he is aware that a hearing notice has been issued to all parties with cases pending at the court to proceed to Accra for hearing between now and July next month.

LEGAL INCONVENIENCES

Mr. Kwame Boafo, the regional GBA president believes the decision has the tendency to affect both litigants and lawyers who have cases pending before the court, as it comes with additional cost to ferry between the national capital and Kumasi to have cases heard.

He said apart from the financial cost associated with such decision, the risk involved in travelling to and from Accra also brings unbearable inconveniences to parties involved in cases before the court. “As we know, Court of Appeal sitting starts around 9am every morning, so assuming if you board a flight from Kumasi to Accra, it is not likely you can get there by 9am, so you will be compelled to sleep overnight and this comes at an additional cost,” he observed.

Lawyer Boafo further argues that the whole decision defeats the purpose for which the Court of Appeal was established in Kumasi which was to bring justice to the doorsteps of people. “Now you tell people to go all the way to Accra to have their cases heard because there is no money to fund operations of the Court in Kumasi, as we are all aware Ashanti Region is the most densely populated area in Ghana and the fact that it also serves Brong Ahafo Region, this tells you that there is the likelihood of huge backlog of cases,” he lamented.

According to him, it is highly unacceptable that a country like Ghana, which prides itself as beacon of democracy in Africa, will toy with law and order which is the bedrock of governance. The GBA Regional President said he would not put the blame on the Judiciary for the rather unfortunate situation but rather blames the government for its ineptitude towards justice delivery in the country.

“Let me sound a bit political my brother; you see this tells us about our attitude to law and order; how can a whole Court of Appeal suspend sitting because government has refused to release subventions to the Judicial Service, meanwhile government has funds to send supporters and ambassadors to Brazil to watch football matches,” the GBA President fumed.

According to Lawyer Boafo, the huge amount expended by government to ferry supporters to watch the World Cup could have kept both the Courts in Cape Coast and Kumasi running and so we will not be facing this problem we are facing today.

“The Court of Appeal in Cape Coast for instance would have been able to handle most of the oil cases that are coming from the Western Region, we know currently there are lots of cases in connection with that in the Western Region and you tell me all these would have to be referred to Accra; but I don’t blame the Judiciary Service, I blame the government of the day,” livid Lawyer Boafo lamented.

THE WAY FORWARD

The GBA President said government should consider the idea of providing permanent accommodation to the three sitting Court of Appeal Judges, in order to minimise the inconveniences of always having to come from Accra.

He said as a long term measure, government should consider putting up three or four permanent bungalows to accommodate the Judges since the current arrangement puts too much pressure on them. The GBA President also suggested to government to see the delivery of justice as a matter of priority and ensure that funds are released on time in order to facilitate the operations of all legal institutions in the country.
 
 
Source: The Chronicle
 
 

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