Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, says Ghana’s Supreme Court is overburdened with case overload and needs to be expanded. There currently are 11 judges on the Supreme Court after the retirement of Justice William Anaam Atuguba recently.
They include Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, Justice Julius Ansah, Justice Sophia Adinyira, and Justice Vida Akoto Bamfo. The others are Justice Paul Kwadwo Baffoe-Bonnie, Justice Nasiru Sulemana Gbadegbe, Justice Anin Yeboah and Justice Ampah Benin. The rest are Justices Jones Dotse, Yaw Apau, and Gabriel Pwamang.
President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated four persons for vetting and approval by Parliament as justices of the Supreme Court.
They are Justice Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Justice Agnes M.A. Dordzie, Nene A. O. Amegatcher and an academic, Prof Nii Ashie Kotey, a former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana.
Some Minority Members of Parliament and leading members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have accused the president of unnecessarily increasing the number of Supreme Court judges.
Apart from the number of judges doubling, he said, the judges should also be provided with experienced lawyers as clerks.
This, he maintained, would help in adjudicating cases before the Court especially at a time many cases at the lower courts are being appealed to the Supreme Court.
But commenting on the issue on MultiTV/Joy News’ news analysis programme, Newsfile, Martin Kpebu said contrary to the arguments of the minority, Ghana’s apex court needs expanding – in fact doubling of the current number of judges.
He dismissed as baseless, suggestions that two of the four nominees may have been rewarded for recommending the removal of the heads of the Electoral Commission.
Justices Marful Sau and Agnes Dordzie were members of the Chief Justice’s five-member committee that investigated petitions for, and recommended the removal of, the three heads of the elections governing body, the EC.
He said the processes to appoint the Supreme Court justices clearly predated the setting up of the Chief Justice’s Committee.
The Court also needs reform because the mandate of the Supreme Court is very wide compared to other courts in other jurisdictions, even in Africa.
Backing Martin Kpebu’s argument, Vice-President of policy think tank, IMANI, Kofi Bentil, himself a lawyer, said, “the justices, especially of the Supreme Court, are supervisors of this realm.”
He said the Supreme Court should have at least 15 justices who can sit in sets of 3, constituting five courts or sets of five, constituting three courts.
“We should have serious lawyers behind them who sometimes will write the judgments. This is a very important matter,” he stressed.