The Chief Justice, her Ladyship Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkonoo, has warned Judicial Services staff to desist from using judges’ position and power to extort money from innocent people.
“Some of you use their [judges] position to make money from people. Refrain from this because I will not hesitate to dispense of you and your service,” she cautioned.
The Chief Justice gave this warning during a forum at Apollo, a suburb within the Effia Kwesimintsim municipality in the Western Region. The forum was part of activities marking Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Week, which also coincided with the inauguration of Kwesimintsim District Court. It was on the theme ‘Building the pillars of justice through ADR’.
On why cases take long at the court, the Chief Justice explained that there is a procedure complainants need to go through. Also, she said, if a lawyer does not file the case properly and the opposing side raises an objection, the objection is first dealt with before the case – which explains why some cases take time to reach a conclusion.
“We have rules of ethics and one of them is independence, which is in the constitution. Some cases can be on the Judges’ table for a year. So, if the plaintiff, defendant and parties involved do not appear at court for that long, we use the Registrar Summons process to quash the case. Cases at the court can be better if we all become diligent. I have directed judges to strike out cases when the parties involved seem not to be interested, because it gives us a bad reputation,” she said.
In a related development, Nana Egya Kwamena XI, Divisional Chief of Apremdo, has entreated the Chief Justice to let the public be aware of punishment meted out to Judicial Service staff when they are reported for wrong-doings.
This, he noted, will give confidence to the market woman, carpenter, mason as well as ordinary man in the street to know that the judicial service has listening ears for all. “Most often, we hear cases of unprofessionalism by some judicial services staff who taint the image of the Ghana Judicial Service, but we don’t get to hear what happens to them,” he said.
Nana Egya Kwamena XI made this plea when the Chief Justice opened a new Court in the Effia Kwesiminstim Metropolitan Assembly (EKMA).
The new court’s purpose is to bring justice close to people in the area.
The Chief of Apremdo expressed worry that the Judicial Service has no clear complaint mechanisms for victims to lodge complaints.
On land issues, he pointed out that apart from Burma Camp in Accra, Apremdo is the only community in Ghana that has released lands for government to establish two military barracks; the Air Force and 2nd Battalion of Infantry (2BN).
“However, since our grandfathers released those lands for government to protect the air space and the land territories of Ghana – with the understanding that compensation would be paid to the stool, successive governments have not paid the due compensation for both lands.”
The situation, he said, has created tension between the families and military units for land encroachment, adding: “In as much as Apremdo is giving lands to promote administration of justice to the people of Ghana, we hope the Judicial Service of Ghana will be responsive enough to hear cases on time”