Chief Justice nominee defends ‘unanimous’ decisions of Supreme Court

Chief Justice nominee Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo has dismissed perceptions that unanimous decisions taken by judges on a panel smack of bias.

“It’s not a matter of bias,” she stressed at her vetting on Friday, May 26, but “it is a matter of upholding the legal position”.

The question was put to her by Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa North Constituency James Agalga.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP was concerned about the consistent “unanimous” positions taken by justices of the Supreme Court in some high-profile cases.

Indeed, some Ghanaians nicknamed the Supreme Court ‘Unanimous FC’ as a result of the outcome of some of these cases including the election petition by John Dramani Mahama in 2021.

But Justice Torkornoo justified these decisions, insisting that if it turns out that justices of the Supreme Court take a unanimous decision, then the law is on their side.

“When a unanimous decision is reached, it signifies that the law unequivocally supports the court’s position, and every member of the court, in adherence to their judicial oath, cannot take a different stance,” she said.

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“It reveals what the law truly entails. Therefore, the only appropriate response is to understand and learn from the legal principles, as it is not a matter of bias, but a matter of upholding the legal position.”

She explained further that there is a perception that judges can be bribed and this perception has overshadowed the work of some of them who are even “unbribable”.

‘Judicial predators’

She said there are some miscreants in the judicial service who have made it a big market to take bribes at the blind side of judges, assuring their victims of taking them to the judges in order to secure positive outcomes for them.

Describing them as “judicial predators”, she said these miscreants within the service have created a market from which they hugely benefit.

“So, please don’t give them money to take to judges because it is their market,” Justice Torkornoo cautioned.

If approved, Justice Torkornoo will replace Justice Kwesi Anin-Yeboah as Ghana’s next Chief Justice.

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Justice Anin-Yeboah retired on Wednesday, May 24 after he turned 70.

Justice Jones Dotse is acting until Justice Torkornoo is approved and subsequently sworn in.


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