The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Friday, 22nd May 2020, swore into office two newly appointed Justices of the Supreme Court, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga and Justice Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu, at separate ceremonies at Jubilee House, the seat of the nation’s presidency.
First swearing in Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, President Akufo-Addo noted that he had met the stringent requirements of Article 128 clause (4) of the Constitution, and has demonstrated the independence of spirit, proven integrity, high moral character, and impartiality of mind to hold this high office.
According to the President, “your track record, over the last thirty-nine (39) years, speaks for itself – Assistant State Attorney, private legal practitioner, Judge Advocate of the Ghana Navy, Justice of the High Court, Additional High Court Judge sitting on civil matters, narcotics, robbery, and other violent crimes, Director of the Remand Prisoners Project, and long-serving Justice of the Court of Appeal.”
He continued, “Your appointment to the highest court of the land is, thus, truly well-deserved and merited. The post-1966 Supreme Court has developed a positive reputation for the quality of its constitutional jurisprudence, and I am hopeful that you, who have already had good experience of high judicial office in the Court of Appeal, will help strengthen the development of our nation’s constitutional and other jurisprudence in the Supreme Court.”
With Justice Honyenuga having endured a difficult time lately, the President applauded him for comporting himself in a dignified manner.
“I can only urge you to overlook these events, which should be a mere blip on your public career, and dispense justice in accordance with your conscience and the rule of law. It is extremely important that you ensure the strict application of the laws of the land, in the words of the judicial oath, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, which you have just taken, and, therefore, without recourse to the political, religious or ethnic affiliations of any citizen of the land,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo urged Justice Honyenuga to make sure that when anyone falls foul of the law, the law enforcement agencies, including the Judiciary, must ensure the person is dealt with in accordance with law.
That, he explained, is the true meaning of the concept of equality before the law.
At the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Tanko Amadu, President Akufo-Addo stated that this is the first time in the nation’s history that a Muslim has been appointed to the highest court of the land, adding that “I am delighted to have been the President to have the honour of doing so, and to do so appropriately in this Holy Month of Ramadan.”
Having worked as a lawyer in the great Federal Republic of Nigeria for nineteen (19) years, and going on to found his own firm in 1997, Justice Tanko Amadu was appointed to the High Court in 2008, and, four (4) years later, was promoted to the Court of Appeal, the President stated that, by dint of hard work and merit, he has been further elevated.
With the Constitution of the Republic affirming that final judicial power in the State is vested solely in the Judiciary, and not in any other agency or organ of the State, the President noted that the Judiciary has onerous responsibilities to protect the individual liberties and fundamental human rights of citizens, to act as the arbiter in disputes between the State and the citizen, to act as the arbiter in disputes between citizens and all persons, and to serve as the bulwark for the defence and promotion of the liberties and rights of the people.
“With all other Courts bound to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court on questions of law, it is obviously critical that Justices of the Supreme Court possess a sound knowledge of the law, and of precedent, the principle of stare decisis,” he added.
The President added that the situation where judges proffer judgements on the basis of decisions from lower courts and cite them as law, is not acceptable, and even less so, when judges cite no authority at all for their rulings, and give orders without reasons.
“Judges, more so Justices of the Supreme Court, must be learned, know their case law and ensure their decisions and judgements are properly motivated. It is in this manner that judges contribute to the orderly development of the nation,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that all Ghanaians, with their different views and their different perspectives, must work together for the realisation of the Ghana project – a united Ghana, driven by considerations of social justice and solidarity, and governed according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability.
“In these not so normal times, the era of the Coronavirus pandemic, in which we find ourselves, we must hold on firmly to these values, and work, within the confines of an open society, towards the defeat of the virus,” he added.