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Is it important to have a retired CJ on Council of State? – lawyer stokes debate

Justice Georgina Wood retired as CJ from June 8 and joined the Council on June 20

Outspoken Ghanaian professor, Stephen Kwaku Asare, has triggered a debate on whether it is important to have a retired Chief Justice on the Council of State, which he argues, lacks a place in the system of governance being run in the country.

He questioned the rationale behind the inclusion of a retired Chief Justice in the 25-member Council established by the 1992 constitution to “counsel the President in the performance of his functions”

Article 89(2) of the Constitution states there shall be a Council of State which shall consist of “one person who has previously held the office of Chief Justice” as well as a retired Chief of Defence Staff and retired Inspector General of Police.

However, Ghana has for the last 15 years been without a living chief justice to take up the reserved slot on the Council, something Prof. Asare argued raises questions about the importance of that provision.

“Is the silence or failure to fix the problem a signal that the country can do just fine without a retired CJ on the Council? Is it a testimony to the importance of the presence of a retired CJ on the Council?,” he asked in a Facebook post Wednesday.

His comment comes on the back of the swearing-in of former Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, by President Nana Akufo-Addo Tuesday, as the 25th member of the Council of State.

Justice Theodora Wood retired as the country’s Chief Justice on June 8, paving the way for her to occupy the seat on the Council.

READ: CJ Georgina Wood to join Council of State under Akufo-Addo

“I am intrigued by what will motivate or inform constitutional drafters to reserve positions on the Council and other bodies for such a narrow class of people, culminating in the current 22-year vacancy…

He said it was surprising that the 22-year vacancy created by the non-availability of a retired CJ did not led to “calls for a constitutional amendment to fix” what he termed as a “glaring problem”.

He contended that if the Council was able to survive without a retired CJ for the past decade, it would be probable that it can be without others too, saying “…if we can do without the retired CJ on the Council, does it mean we can do without some others too?”

Ghana doesn’t need Council of State

Meanwhile, Prof. Asare who is a lawyer has argued Ghana does not require a Council of State per the current governance system being practiced.

He said the Council of State was first created by the 1969 constitution as an advisory body at a time that Ghana’s governance system was “bicephalous” (two headed) executive.

Ghana at the time had a Prime Minister as the head of the government and the President who was the Head of State.

“A Council of State has no role or place in a monocephalous [solitary head] executive system where the President receives advice from his cabinet, cadre of ministers and team of advisors,” he said.

He added: “My view is that the Council of State is an anachronism in a monocephalous executive system. But if we are going to have the Council of State, we must determine whether it is important for a retired CJ to be on it or not”.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana

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