A CROSS section of seasoned lawyers yesterday shot down retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Francis Yaonasu Kpegah’s bid to impugn the integrity of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo with some of them describing it as politically motivated given his background as an NDC card-bearing member.
Former President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) Sam Okudjeto said he was shocked to learn that the retired Supreme Court Judge had questioned the qualification of the 2012 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to practice law in Ghana.
Apart from his claims that Nana Akufo-Addo could not practice in Ghana, the retired judge wanted the authorities to close down the law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co, established by the NPP 2012 candidate which arguably is one of the best in the country.
The firm no doubt, has distinguished itself in the field of law and is credited for churning out exceptional lawyers including Attorneys-General in Ghana.
The claim coming from Justice Kpegah was strange especially since Nana Akufo-Addo might have appeared before the Lord Justice severally without raising a voice when he was at the Bench.
When asked on Oman FM yesterday as to whether he was surprised about the retired justice’s query, Mr. Okudjeto said “I am not only surprised but shocked that somebody would say that Nana Akufo-Addo is not a lawyer.”
Nana Akufo-Addo did not study Law in Ghana he said adding “I too did not study Law in Ghana. We registered when we returned.”
He asked whether Justice Kpegah who once acted as Chief Justice following the death of Justice George Kingsley Acquah, did not know that he was not registered to practice law.
Justice Kpegah should have searched for Nana Akufo-Addo’s name in the roll of lawyers before getting to the stage and making his assumption asking “did he ask Nana whether his name was in the register?”
People, he said, use different names at different times and the authority which registers lawyers in the country is the General Legal Council and not the Supreme Court.
Asked whether it was not politics which drove the retired judge to embark on this project he said “I am not in his head. I am a member of disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council and here we ensure that those who practice are qualified to do so. Akufo-Addo was my vice when I was president of the GBA. He is a brilliant, very brilliant no question about that.”
Continuing he said “I don’t see how anybody can dispute that Nana Addo is a lawyer when he has been reported many times in the Ghana Law Report. He is outstanding. He is a credit to Ghana.”
He said he does not want to judge anybody “but I am just stating the facts. I was practicing when he was a student. He was called to the bar in England and he worked with an important law firm in France.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, he added, is a member of the International Bar Association.
Then came Frank Davies, the Greater Accra Regional President of the Ghana Bar Association who described Justice Kpegah’s action as ‘pedestrian’ and said “there is no doubt that this is politically motivated.”
Mr. Davies who looked incensed from the tone of his voice said “if somebody should say something like this it should not be a retired Supreme Court judge. He should have known better.”
“It is childish so I am finding it difficult joining this discussion.”
“We respect our judges whether in active service or retired but I think Justice Kpegah is trying to bring the dignity of the bench in disrepute.”
He said he strongly believed that Justice Kpegah was doing this to distract the attention of Nana Akufo-Addo and others who have filed a petition at the Supreme Court to challenge the Electoral Commission’s declaration of John Dramani Mahama as President in the just ended election.
“I think we should elevate our political discourse to another level; I think this is childish, with the greatest of all respect to Justice Kpegah,” he said.
He said Nana Akufo-Addo has been to vetting in Parliament, contested Presidential elections twice saying “and they all did not notice this. It is only Justice Kpegah who would come out with this.”
“Nana has been reported in the law report 64 times and has appeared before Justice Kpegah as a judge several times and you turn around to say he does not qualify to practice in Ghana.
“Nana Akufo-Addo is a political person. Don’t let us think that what Kpegah is doing is only legal. He is doing that to score cheap political points. He is doing it to tarnish the image and reputation of the man.
“We should also not forget that Kpegah is a card bearing member of the NDC. It is politics they are doing and we don’t have to forget that fact. He is doing that to change the topic on the current economic hardship of the country.”
Source: A.R. Gomda/William Yaw Owusu
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