Saturday, July 02, 2016

1982 Murdered Judges Remembered in Ghana
01 JULY 2016

Three wreaths laid at a ceremony in Accra in remembrance of the three justices who were murdered. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

A non-denominational service was held in Accra yesterday to mark the 34th anniversary of the abduction and murder of three High Court justices at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains.
The justices were Mr Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie, Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow and Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong.

Also abducted and murdered was Major Sam Acquah (retd).

The solemn service, organised by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), in collaboration with the Judicial Service of Ghana, was attended by family members of the deceased, lawyers, judges, including the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, and some members of the public.


At the event, the President of the GBA, Mr Benson Nutsukpui, said the memory of the three justices should live forever.

"We have forgiven the wrongdoers for their cowardly and evil deeds, but we still remember these martyrs of the rule of law and will continue to celebrate them. The Bar and the Bench acknowledge and proclaim those good qualities and deeds for which they were murdered," he said.

He said such a tragedy should never be allowed to happen again, adding, "Assaults to the rule of law have not and should never manifest themselves in the horrific circumstances we have just reminded ourselves of."

Rule of law

Mr Nutsukpui said the death of the three martyrs should be a reminder to people and institutions to uphold and defend the independence of the Judiciary.

"The commemoration of their deaths on Martyrs Day is an appropriate occasion to examine the role of judges and lawyers in the defence of the rule of law. An independent Judiciary is the backbone of the rule of law. A Judiciary that is protected from all forms of intimidation and interference is key to securing judicial independence," he stated.

Members of the Ghana Bar Association and the Judiciary have been attending the Martyrs Day remembrance service since its inception


The Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Kumasi, the Most Reverend Gabriel J. Anokye, who delivered the sermon at the ceremony, advised the public to use the death of the three justices to promote peace and unity in the country

 He said people would be doing a great disservice to the memory of the three martyrs if peace, reconciliation and stability did not prevail in the country.

"Our departed justices will be happier if we can secure a more peaceful, stable and developed Ghana through shared responsibility.

"We can do this when freedom and justice will not be mere words embellishing our national Coat of Arms but will be practised and protected in strength and in truth," he said.

The Special Investigations Board set up by the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to investigate the gruesome murder made a number of findings, leading to the prosecution of Joachim Amartey Kwei, a member of the PNDC; Lance Corporals Samuel Amedeka and Michael Senyah and two ex-soldiers: Johnny Dzandu and Tonny Terkpor.

Gov’t assures security of Judges after threats

Source: Ghana |
George Nyavor |
Date: 02-07-2016 Time: 10:07:57:am

Deputy Interior Minister, James Agalga, says the state will move swiftly to beef up the security of Supreme Court and High Court judges, if the need arises.

His assurance is in reaction to threatening statements against the judges of the apex court and the High Court recently by panelists on an Accra-based local language radio station.

“The security of our judges, and all those who work in the Judiciary, we place a lot of premium on their security. We will not allow anybody to resort to any conduct which will compromise the security of our Justices,” said the Deputy Interior Minister on Newsfile on Joy FM and the Joy News channel on Multi TV, Saturday.

During a political current affairs programme on Muntie FM, two panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn reportedly made threats of harm and death against the judges.

While Alistair has come out to apologise and retract his comments, Godwin –  who is a member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) communication team – has denied making threatening comments on the judges.

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) have both condemned the alleged threats against members of the bench. The GBA wants the security agencies to arrest and prosecute the two panelists for their comments.

The MFWA says the comments, which was made on June 30, 2016, the 34 annivesary of the Matyr's Day anniversary, was unnecessary unprovoked.

Matyr's Day is marked every year in memory of the abduction and murder on June 30,1982 of the late Mr Justice Fred Poku Sarkodee, Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng- Addow and Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei- Agyepong.

Speaking on Newsfile, Mr Agalga said an apology from one of the alleged commentators notwithstanding, the security of the judges is key to the state, assuring that government will go all lengths to protect it.

“They [Judges] owe their position to the Constitution. The Constitution itself sets up the Judiciary and makes then independent to adjudicate over disputes that people will bring before them,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Joy News has learned that contempt charges will be brought against the panelists,

Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn on Monday July 4, 2016.

Judges must ‘kill’ radio panelist

Joseph Ackah-Blay |
Date: 02-07-2016 Time: 09:07:57:am

The past 72-hours have been characterized by moments of intense reflection for me, from my 8-hour stay at the Supreme Court/New Court Complex on Wednesday to visiting the court on Thursday for a wreath laying ceremony as well as a memorial service at the Christ the King Parish as part of activities marking the 34th anniversary of the murder of three justices of the High Court.

Kierkegaard Soren couldn’t have been wrong when he stated that, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

After 72 long hours, a statement from the Ghana Bar Association set me thinking about this: why don’t the judges kill? Sorry, cut people to their size, harsher? Ok, let’s say put people in their place or better still remind them how sacred our Judges are. No matter how I try to put across what I feel Judges must reinforce, I know we all do, in our inner most self, appreciate what and how they must do that.

Wednesday June 29, 9am New Court Complex, Anthony Yeboah rules

Wednesday was definitely not the first time I had paid a visit to the courts; I had been there on previous occasions to report for Joy News. Even before I stepped out of University, I was doing same for Radio Univers, not the same courts, but at the student court. Back then, I observed students who were acting as counsels literally shut down and asked to behave by colleagues who were also at the same faculty of law with them (Colleagues who acted as Justices in the student courts). I have never doubted the power of Judges and so I quickly put my phone on silent mode when I entered the court room and realized that Justice Anthony Yeboah had started reading his judgment. He concluded and took brief comments from counsels and called the next case.

Same Day, 10 am Supreme Court

I dashed to the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Yeboah’s ruling on the interim order. My focus was not on a court room this time around, but on the Supreme Court’s registry. The Supreme Court had earlier ordered the Electoral Commission to furnish the courts with a list of all who registered with the National Health Insurance cards. I wasn’t the only reporter at the premises; almost all major media houses in the capital had representation. I took an advantageous position together with my camera man and waited patiently for the EC team to arrive. It was a long wait that ended at 5pm.

Thursday,  June 30, 8:45am Supreme Court

While waiting at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, I noticed artisans busily working at the forecourt.

I struggled to make out why they were cleaning the inscriptions on the 3 busts at the forecourt. I got to work on Thursday and was told to rush there for a wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of 3 High Court Judges. A bit on the three;  it was announced on July 1, 1982 that the 3 had been abducted during the curfew hours of June 30, 1982 and later confirmed that they had been brutally and savagely murdered on the night of their abduction.

They have since gone down in history as the martyrs of the rule of law with their monuments standing at the forecourt of the Supreme Court. The church service held at the Christ the King parish was no different from the wreath laying in ceremony in terms of the mood of members of the Bar; solemn and one of reflection. The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Mrs Georgina Theodora Woode, Mr Benson Nutsukpui (National President, Ghana Bar Association) and MrBanahenePokuSarkodee (son of  the late Justice Fred PokuSarkodee) who had laid wreath  on behalf of the Judiciary, Ghana Bar Association and bereaved families had all followed up and were seated at the church, which is interestingly few meters away from the square where former President Rawlings and others annually celebrate June 4.

The GBA chose that day to condemn certain forms of criticisms against the Judiciary; Presdent Benson Nutsukpui in his speech said “it is absolutely unacceptable for these criticisms to be rendered in language that is vituperative, sensational and purely abusive with the primary aim of inciting public disaffection of our Judges and to undermine the integrity of the judicial system”. The GBA was called into action less than 24 hours later; what they had condemned is reported to have reared its ugly head once more. The statement signed by their President revealed that Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn radio Panelist, made threats of harm or of death to Supreme Court Judges.

The two are reported to have drawn parallels from the martyrs day (they are alleged to have commented on the eve of the day) adding that they could identify the homes of the judges of the court and visit them with violence. This came to me as a pill too hard to swallow; if the statement attributed to the two is indeed true, it as an affront to the freedom of speech. Such “senseless” criticisms have the potential to only incite people against the Judges. It gives people a reason to feel the Judges are people we can easily castigate and run in the mud like people are gradually doing on a daily basis to those in authority, mostly politicians.

“Casting insinuations, innuendos, castigating the character of honest citizens, it is wrong , it is not in the interest of our country because it is those kind of behavior that incited those who abducted the Judges”, words of veteran member of the Bar, Sam Okudzeto as I interviewed him after the memorial service had ended.

It is important for all to understand how crucial Judges are. It is worthwhile to add that their authority is not in doubt in the minds of Ghanaians. You should see the silence in court as Justice Anthony Yeboahdelievered his judgment. Even the response of counsels when he was done is worth noting, both those who it favored and those it didn’t then showed respect in a manner one could not help but notice.

The look on the Electoral Commission’s official who submitted the list at the court registry is still fresh in my mind. He looked “hot” like we say in local jargon. The Apex court had given an order, the Commission whose leaders (Dr Afari Djan to Mrs Charlotte Osei) have over the years gained notoriety for being adamant, telling people to head to court if they feel they have a strong case and reminding all that “its our logo, we like it and we will use it”, had no other choice than to work to beat the deadline like school kids obeying the instructions of the teacher most known to crack the whip.

Why will people abduct and kill Justices, certainly to stop them from executing their powers which we all know cant be stopped in any legal way unless people senselessly abduct and kill them. We all, trust me, fear their powers, but like Atubiga and Sir John we often in moments of insanity, act as though we don’t really know what they represent and what they are capable of doing. But hey, when they call us, to appear before their seat of truth and justice, we are all put in out rightful place, a place where we must all be, silent and respectful, even when we disagree, we must do it in a certain manner. They are persons who act more or less as representatives of God on earth, their role ensuring that we don’t stab people when we disagree with them but rather head to them to tell them our story with the hope that they will agree with us.

Investigative Journalist Anas Aremyaw Anas reminded us of how some of them become stooges of pipers who call the tune of justice once they are handed a goat in such cases. That is an excess, that can in no way permit any individual including those with the benefit of a microphone to create the impression that people can hurl insults and threaten Justices at will. It’s high time a good number of Justices take a cue from Justice Atuguba and crack the whip of contempt especially in instances when people run them down while commenting on cases they are hearing. They must put them in their place; kill that spirit in them if not them (which I don’t subscribe to) such that all will understand that the Judiciary is an important institution that we cannot run down.

We must respect our Justices and the court and the Higher court that Gandhi tells us exists;

“There is a higher court than courts of Justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.”

This must be our guide.

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