A former president of the Ghana Bar Association, Sam Okudzeto, has called on Ghanaians to be circumspect in their critique and general assessment of the judiciary as a collective.
He believes that as a critical branch of Ghana’s democratic experiment, tasked with dispensing justice, any efforts that undermines their authority could ultimately lead to chaos if people take the law into their own hands.
He stressed in an interview with Accra-based Joy News (September 21) that Ghana’s history of the murder of three judges in 1982 is a sign post as to why people who seek to denigrate the judicial arm of government must tread cautiously.
Asked whether the three judges murdered in 1982 were corrupt, the reason some ascribed for their killing, he responded in the negative and described them as “impeccable,” having has a personal relationship with them.
“Oh my goodness, if one is talking about impeccable, in terms of character, those three they are exceptional. In fact, those three, I know them personally so I can vouch. In fact when Acheampong arrested some of us who were in the Movement for Freedom and Justice, William Ofori-Atta and I went to court to challenge our detention.
“I was then in James Fort prisons, Paa Willie was in Ussher Fort Prisons, Agyapong was the judge, before whose court the case went to and my lawyer was my own cousin Tsatsu Tsikata and his brother Fui,” he added.
From the history, he stressed that it was important to caution Ghanaians that, “judgement can be given against you. We have set up a whole hierarchy of court system, you can go to the High Court and win or lose. You have the right to appeal,” to the higher courts.
“So, let’s be cautious when we are making statements, because when you are preaching hatred, the danger is that it is not necessarily you who is going to take the law into your own hands for vengeance, it can be any kind of crazy individual,” he stressed.
The 1982 murder of High Court judges and retired soldier
On Thursday, June 30, 1982, on the eve of the 22nd anniversary of Ghana’s Republic, the three judges; Mr Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie, Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addo and Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong, all judges of the High Court and Major Acquah, a retired army officer, were brutally and savagely murdered on the night of their abduction at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains.
The Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), appointed a Special Investigation Board with a former Chief Justice, Mr Justice Samuel Azu Crabbe, as chairman to investigate the murders.
The outcome of the investigation led to the prosecution and execution of Joachim Amartey Kwei, a member of the PNDC, Lance Corporals Samuel Amedeka and Michael Senya, and two ex-soldiers- Jonny Dzandu and Tony Tekpor.
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