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May 12, 2017

Justice Sophia Akuffo, Named Next Chief Justice


A Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, has been nominated for appointment as the new Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana.

She will take over from the sitting Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who retires on June 9, 2017.

Ms Justice Akuffo, who has a master’s degree in Law (LLM) from the University of Harvard in the United States of America (USA), has been a justice of the Supreme Court since 1995.

Deep-throat sources told the Daily Graphic that the Council of State has approved her nomination.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will officially announce Ms Justice Akuffo’s nomination at a press briefing at the Flagstaff House today.

The sources said she had since received her letter nominating her to the office of the fourth most powerful person in Ghana.

Her nomination will be forwarded to Parliament for approval when the house resumes by the end of this month.

The appointment

Article 144 (1) of the 1992 Constitution provides that “the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President, acting in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament”.

Article 144 (2) provides that “the other Supreme Court justices shall be appointed by the President, acting on the advice of the Judicial Council, in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament”.

The race

The Daily Graphic gathered last Tuesday that Ms Justice Akuffo was the top on the list, followed by Justices Jones Dotse and Anin Yeboah.

All the three justices have served creditably on the Bench and been part of or led judgements in landmark cases.

Lawyers and members of the Bench who spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity spoke highly of all the contenders and were unanimous in their views that they all deserved the position.

Profile of Ms Justice Akuffo

Ms Justice Akuffo has served as a justice of the Supreme Court for the past two decades.

She has been a member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force.

In January 2006, she was elected as one of the first judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and was re-elected until 2014 when she served as the Vice-President. She is the immediate past President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

She is on the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council and has held membership of several organisations, including the Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute.

Her publications include The Application of Information & Communication Technology in the Judicial Process - The Ghanaian Experience, presented to the African Judicial Network Ghana (2002).

Retirement

Justice Sophia Akuffo is the second most senior judge on the highest court of the land after Mr Justice William Atuguba, who is billed to retire next year.

The Daily Graphic also gathered that the President was confronted with making a choice from senior justices and the lot fell on Justice Akuffo and Justice Atuguba.

Although Justice Atuguba is the most senior, if appointed the new Chief Justice, he will serve only for about a year and retire.

Consequently, President Akufo-Addo, upon consultation with the Council of State, settled on Justice Akuffo who has more than two years to her retiring age and has a high international experience.

The office of the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana will become vacant with effect from June 9, 2017, when Mrs Justice Wood leaves office after 40 years of service to the nation.