Madam Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Fourteenth Report of the Appointments Committee on the President's nominations for appointment to the Supreme Court.
Madam Speaker, His Excellency,
President J. E. A. Mills in a letter dated 20th August, 2009 communicated to Parliament for the approval of the nomination of the following persons for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court pursuant to article 144 (2) of the Constitution:
1 . J u s t i c e B e n j a m i n Teiko Aryeetey
2 . J u s t i c e N a s i r u Sulemana gbadegbe
3 . J u s t i c e V i d a A k o t o -
In accordance with Order 172 (2) of the Standing Orders of the House, the nominations were referred to the Appointments Committee for consi- deration and report.
The names of the nominees were subsequently published in the media in accordance with Standing Order 172 (3). Memoranda were also invited from the public as part of the mechanism to ensure that each of the nominees satisfies the requirements of the Constitution, particularly article 128(4).
2.0 Reference Documents
The Committee referred to and was
guided by the following documents during deliberations on the above mentioned nominees:
1. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of ghana;
2. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of ghana;
3. The Curricular Vitae of the nominees;
The Committee noted that despite two weeks of advertisements requesting memoranda from the general public, none was received.
In line with the procedure of the Committee, each nominee took the oath of a witness or made a solemn affirmation in that regard. They also answered questions on issues ranging from their records of office, experience on the bench, the positions to which they have been
nominated through general matters of legal, judicial and/or national concern. 4.0 Observations and Recommendations
4 . 1 J u s t i c e B e n j a m i n Te i k o Aryeetey: Justice-designate of the Supreme Court
Justice Banjamin Teiko Aryeetey was born on June 14, 1941. He attended Mfantsipim School from 1956 to 1960 where he obtained a first division Certificate in the West African School Certificate Examination and later attended the Winneba Training College from 1960 to 1962 where he was awarded a Teacher's Certificate ‘A'. He continued to Achimota School from 1963 to 1965 for his general Certificate of Education Advance Level. He obtained his LLB degree from the University of ghana in 1968 and further pursued a Post-graduate Certificate in Law at the same university.
He was first appointed District Magistrate grade II in April 1971. He rose through the ranks and was appointed a Justice of the High Court in 1989. In 1990, he was appointed Judge Advocate for the ghana Armed Forces.
Justice Aryeetey was subsequently appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1999 where he has served to date.
He has participated in various international conferences including Operat ion Cross Roads , Afr ican Programme on American Legal Institution and Jurisprudence in the USA and Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association Workshop in The gambia.
He has held several other positions including Chairman of Maranatha University College Board and a member of the Judges and Magistrates Association. He is also a lecturer on Judicial Ethics for the Career Magistrates Programme and an examiner on Practical Advocacy for final year students of the ghana School of Law.
Experience on the Bench
His Lordship Justice Aryeetey informed the Committee that he has been on the Bench for 38 years. During this period he has worked in Accra, Akim Oda, and Cape Coast.
When asked about his understanding on Judicial activism, the nominee opined that it means not being there just to interpret the law but being proactive to solve problems as and when the need arises and being willing to effect change when necessary.
Opinion on law on “Wilfully Causing Financial Loss to the State”
On the law of “wilfully causing financial loss to the State”, Justice Aryeetey indicated to the Committee that he has never dealt with the law but has a fair idea about it. Quizzed further on the actus reus and the mens rea of the Law on wilfully causing financial loss to the State, the nominee stated that it is important that the actus reus and the mens rea are established in determining the criminal liability of a person charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the State.
MPs on Governing Boards and Conflict of Interest
Questioned on whether the appoint- ment of Members of Parliament to Boards and Councils of Public Corporations does not have inherent conflict of interest, the nominee opined that the matter should not be generalized but must be looked at on
case by case basis. Upper Limit for the Number of Judges on the Supreme Court
On his take on a possible upper ceiling for the number of Supreme Court Judges, the nominee noted that based on the 1992 Constitution, there is no such upper limit. He said currently, the Court of Appeal is expanding and as the economy grows, there could also arise the need to expand the Supreme Court. To him, the current frame of the Constitution allows for flexibility but “when you don't need it, you don't bring it on board”.
Retirement in two years at the Supreme Court
Members wanted to know if the two years left for the nominee to retire was not too short a time for him to make any impact at the Supreme Court. He responded and explained that “others have been there for shorter periods and still performed” and so he will manage with the two years at his disposal.
Panelling for Constitutional Interpretations
On the suggestion of empanelling the full complement or membership of the Supreme Court to sit on matters -- constitutional matters, the nominee expressed the view that the court should stick to the minimum of five (5) so that in case of a review others could be brought in. He further stated that it is “illegal” for any body or group to insist that the Supreme Court should be empanelled by all the Justices for any case.
Justice Aryeetey attributed the delays in disposing of cases at the courts to several factors and said frustrations put in the way of cases by some lawyers also contribute to the delay.
Upon enquiry, the nominee informed the Committee that in his view one of the landmark cases he has presided over was a case involving the government's intention to sell out some shares in the then Ashanti goldfields Corporation (AgC). He said he tried the case and gave his ruling, the effect of which was that the government could sell the shares. It is significant to note that there was no appeal in the matter.
Judges and Remand Prisoners
The issue of remand-prisoners, according to the nominee, is a disturbing one. He said ordinarily, a remand prisoner should appear before a Judge every two (2) weeks, but it is not the Judge's duty to bring the prisoner to court. Also, changes in Judges and transfers contribute to some remand prisoners being “forgotten”.
On what should be done to solve the problem, he said the rules should be followed rigidly so that remand prisoners would be brought to court as stipulated.
The nominee bemoaned the deplorable nature of many court buildings in the country saying many of the court buildings “are far below what one expects to be called courtrooms”. He indicated that some District Assemblies are helping to provide court houses, explaining that court fine retentions are too insignificant to put up court houses. He said the Judicial Service is doing its best to solve the problem but this is not enough.
The nominee informed the Committee that he is very much interested in the subject of ethics and conduct of Judges
in their duties.
He subsequently decried the situation in which allegations are frequently made against Judges but no one is willing to come forward to prove it or make a case for investigation. Consequently, he advocated vigorous public education on the matter so that people could complain to the Complaints Unit of the Judiciary if the need arose.
Directive Principles of State Policy
In the opinion of the nominee, the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Chapter Six (6) of the Constitution of ghana (articles 34 - 41) are meant to be guiding principles. Even though they are not justiceable in his view, they are taken into account during judgments.
Obstacles in his duties
Having moved from a Magistrate to an Appeals Court Judge, the nominee intimated that every stage and location he has served came with its own obstacles and hindrances. He said hitherto, lack of vehicles was the main problem but now they have vehicles so that is no more a problem.
He further explained that currently at the Court of Appeal, the needs of Judges are reasonably catered for but the same cannot be said of the lower courts.
Political Colouration of Judges
The nominee s t a t ed t ha t t he Constitution does not allow Judges to show their political colouration or persuasion. Therefore, trying to get Judges to publicly declare their political bias would be illegal. Recommendation