In about 37 days, Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, turns 70, and leaves office as the second female Chief Justice (CJ) of Ghana, it also ends her career on the Supreme Court bench, which started in 1995 through the instrumentality of ex-President Jerry John Rawlings.
But who should succeed her, is becoming a fierce contest between two senior Supreme Court judges, whose unbridled connections to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) is a known secret on the streets of Ghana.
Per Article 144 clause 1 of the 1992 Constitution, the President appoints a Justice of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament, and The Herald, has picked up signals that the contest is between Justice Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse and Justice Kwasi AninYeboah, both judges of the Supreme Court.
The Herald’s insider information is that, barring any last minute changes, President Akufo-Addo, will be giving the position to Justice Dotse, who is currently, Chairman of the University Council of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho; a government appointee.
He has also been a pseudo NPP Volta Regional Godfather, playing an underground peace resolution role among NPP supporters in his hometown Kpando and beyond.
Ahead of the selection of a new Chief Justice, President Akufo-Addo, has made three female appointments to the Supreme Court subject to the approval of Parliament. The Speaker of Parliament, announced the nominees in Parliament yesterday.
The three; Justice Mariama Owusu, Justice Lovelace Johnson and Justice Gertrude Tokornoo, have been elevated to the apex court bench from the Court of Appeal, they are replacing Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo, Justice Sophia Adinyira and Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo.
The last time the position became vacant, following the exit of Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, President Akufo-Addo, settled on his paternal cousin, Sophia Akuffo, who had also been his trainee inside his private law firm in Accra, to the surprise of many.
This is not the first time that, Justice Dotse and Justice Kwasi AninYeboah, have had to vie for the position counting on their known membership or ties to the NPP.
In May 2017, Raymond Acquah, a multimedia journalist wrote that, unimpeachable sources had revealed to him a two-horse race between Justices Dotse and Yeboah.
According to the writer, though at the time, both Justices, had spent nine years at the Supreme Court, Justice Dotse, was seen as the favourite of many within the legal fraternity and the NPP’s legal and constitutional committee.
Not only because he had chaired more panels on the apex court than his contender, regardless of the fact that they are both proven to be very competent.
Raymond Acquah, wrote “in fairness, both Justices Jones Dotse and AninYeboah are believed to have pro-NPP roots. For example just after the 2012 election petition, counsel for the NDC TsatsuTsikata, launched an attack on Justice AninYeboah, accusing him of bias”.
But “Justice Jones Dotse, has also had his fair share of accusations for, in the minds of the accusers, doing the bidding of the NPP. If you recall, the popular quote that is used to describe graft in this country—create, loot and share—was his coinage”.
“One cannot also lose sight of his potentially suggestive comments like demanding of all presidential candidates to emulate then candidate Akufo-Addo and accept the outcome of election disputes.
“The erudite judge also had to recuse himself from the Supreme Court panel hearing the Abu Ramadan case, after he took a stand and insisted that the Supreme Court, ordered the Electoral Commission to delete the names of National Health Insurance registrants on the electoral roll, a position that was affirmed by the apex court even in his absence.
Another consideration that tilts the balance in his favour, is his ethnicity. Proponents insist since the President is an Akan and the vice president is from the Northern part of the Country with the speaker being a Ga-Dangbe it will only be proper to balance the ethnicity scale with someone from the Volta region.
This is necessary and politically prudent because of the 110 ministers named only 6 persons representing (approx.) 5% are from the Volta region. This is compounded by the belief that Voltarians have been shunned when it comes to appointments to notable boards by the Akufo-Addo administration.
Mindful of its history, the NPP, will not like to miss out on this fine opportunity to ingratiate itself to the people of the Volta region”.
Justice Dotse, attended Accra Academy for his secondary education. He studied law at the University of Ghana, Legon, graduating in June 1976, and was called to the Ghanaian Bar in November 1978.
He worked as a State Attorney with the Attorney-General’s Department from 1979 to 1981. After this stint, he went into private practice. He served as the President of the Volta Region Bar of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA). He became a high court judge in June 2002 and became a judge in the Court of Appeals in September 2003.
He was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia in February 2008 and in June of that same year, became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana. He has attended courses and seminars in the United States, Canada, Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana, just to mention a few.
He also served as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Judicial Training Institute in Accra.
Justice AnimYeboah on the other hand, had also been Supreme Court of Ghana and a part-time lecturer at the Ghana School of Law in Civil Procedure and the Ghana Legal System.
His legal experience, includes writing judgments in constitutional matters, civil and criminal cases and providing opinions on legal matters in the West African nation.
In May 2017, Yeboah was formally appointed Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee at the 67th FIFA Congress in Bahrain.
A graduate of the Ghana School of Law in 1981, Yeboah’s legal career, includes serving as Justice of the Court of Appeal (2003-2008) and the High Court (2002-2003) in Ghana.
He has also provided his legal experience to football in Ghana, having served as Chairman of the Appeal Committee at the Ghana Football Association (GFA) from 2004 to 2008.
He comes from ex-President Kufuor’s hometown of Nkawie, the capital of Atwima Nwabiagya Municipality in the Ashanti Region.
Both Justices Jones Dotse and Anim-Yeboah, were sent to the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court by President Kufuor in record time. They have remained loyal to the NPP both in government and opposition since then.