Prof Henry Kwasi Prempeh, the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has questioned the basis for the Chief Justice (CJ) hurling Dr Dominic Ayine before the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council (GLC) over comments he made during a CDD-Ghana forum on the 2020 Election Petition.
According to him, that actions taken by the Chief Justice will “impact negatively on both academic freedom and the freedom and ability of civil society to promote judicial accountability, including through projects like the Judicial Review series”.
He wrote on his Facebook timeline that, the platform on which the lawyer spoke was a veritable marketplace of ideas and opinion, with panellists debating each other in frank, open dialogue.
Prof Prempeh indicated that the webinar discussion organized by CDD-Ghana had other lawyers who strongly disagreed with Dr Ayine’s opinion of the judiciary regarding the case under discussion, with some praising the court’s handling of the matter.
Dr Dominic Ayine, who was a member of former President John Dramani Mahama’s legal team during the 2020 Election Petition, at a forum organized by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), questioned the judiciary’s independence regarding how the Supreme Court arbitrated the Election Petition.
Dr Ayine maintained that the posture of the Supreme Court throughout the Election Petition hearing suggests that it had a “pre-determined agenda” to rule against the petitioner, John Dramani Mahama.
He said, “the Supreme Court’s failure to apply the rules of procedure as well as the consistent and continuous dismissal of the petitioner’s applications or reliefs were the basis of his assertion”.
Dr Ayine made a similar statement during the hearing of the petition at a press briefing, February 16, 2021, in which he was found guilty of contempt of the Supreme Court, but was discharged after apologizing for his comments.
The Judicial Secretary in a letter said, Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah is displeased with statements made by Dr Ayine during a discussion.
The Chief Justice has, therefore, petitioned the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council (GLC) of Ghana to see to the matter.
Expressing his view on the development, Prof Kwasi Prempeh described the lodging of the complaint as “unprecedented, bizarre, and ill-advised” and could potentially curtail the freedom of speech rights of lawyers to engage in projects like the Judicial Review Series to promote judicial accountability.
“Not only is this bound to have a chilling effect on the free speech rights of lawyers, it will also impact negatively on both academic freedom and the freedom and ability of civil society to promote judicial accountability, including through projects like the Judicial Review series.
“I find no justification whatsoever for the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC to be brought into this matter or to investigate Dr. Dominic Akuritinga Ayine for the opinion he expressed on the panel.
“It cannot be ok for a lawyer to praise a court for its handling of a matter but an act of professional misconduct – or contempt of court – for another lawyer to express a contrary view of the same court about the same matter,” he concluded.