A private legal practitioner, Kwame Akuffo has described as “completely absurd,” the Speaker of Parliament’s refusal not to be sworn in as acting President on Wednesday.
“Doe Adjaho’s entry into the Presidency without the oath itself is completely absurd…if that oath is not taken, then that oath which is a critical part of the constitution has been breached,” he remarked.
Due to the absence of the President, John Mahama and his Vice, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur from the country, the Speaker of Parliament was to be sworn in as acting President as stipulated in the country’s 1992 constitution.
But on Wednesday, the Speaker assumed the role of acting President without taking the mandatory constitutional oath of office.
It later emerged that the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Woode is said to have advised that the swearing in ceremony should not take place.
According to the Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, a consensus was reached between the Chief Justice, the Speaker and the leadership of Parliament on the matter.
He was however quick to clarify that “it was a conclusion that was arrived at but I think that conclusion had even been arrived at before I got there but when I went there, I stated my position [that the Speaker should be sworn in].
Speaking on Eyewitness News, lawyer Akuffo stated that if indeed the Chief Justice rendered that opinion, “then she is undermining standing precedents of the court.”
“For me this morning, as the law stands, there has been a violation…and has brought on high treason,” he added.
He pointed out that “nobody in this Republic has a documented version of the minutes of this meeting as to who says what and what the Chief Justice said and what was agreed upon…so it is a bit nebulous for me.”
“Whether the decision taken was correct or not, it makes it even worse because people can now say that the Chief Justice is rendering advisory opinion,” he observed.
Lawyer Akuffo recalled that in 2003, the Supreme Court was emphatic that if the President left the jurisdiction, then the Vice President will take over and if both were out of the jurisdiction, then the Speaker would be sworn in.
According to him, some legal practitioners in Ghana disagree with the Supreme Court because “we thought that it was a narrow construction of the constitution…but the Supreme Court decided otherwise so that is the standing position of the law.”
He was of the opinion that the absence of a swearing in ceremony on Wednesday is indicative that the nation is “practicing very, very inconsistent methods to the same texts and letter of the constitution.”
He therefore advised that if the Chief Justice feels strongly about the matter and it comes up subsequently, “then the courts may choose to revise after all, the constitution is a living organism capable of growth and development.”
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