Two legal practitioners are at odds over whether it was necessary for two Supreme Court Judges to recuse themselves from a contempt charge against Accra-based radio station, Montie FM, and two other persons.
While Egbert Faible Jnr thinks Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Wood and Justice Nasiru Suleimana Gbadegba had a duty to sit on the contempt case, Mr Kojoga Adawudu says the two Justices did an honourable thing by stepping down voluntarily.
“They want justice to be done. They are not going to sit on their own matter that is why they recused themselves,” Mr Adawudu explained.
Justices Georgina Wood and Gbadegbe recused themselves from the contempt hearing Tuesday because they were specifically named in the contempt comments that was brought before the Court involving two panelists on a talk show on Montie FM and the radio station itself.
Announcing the decision, the Chief Justice said one of the pillars on which justice relies on which is of fundamental importance is that justice must not just be done but manifestly seen to be done.
The two radio panelists on Pampaso, a political discussion programme on the local language radio station owned and operated by a Vice Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Harry Zakour, threatened the lives of some judges.
Godwin Ako Gunn and Alistair Nelson were unhappy that the court appeared to be upholding arguments of politicians Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako in a case against the Electoral Commission (EC).
Mr Ramadan and Nimako’s case was that the electoral roll is flawed because it contained names of persons who used the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards to register to vote.
Speaking on Top Story on Joy FM, Tuesday, Mr Faible said the caustic words against the Justices is an attack on the country’s judicial system.
“Her Ladyship the Chief Justice [Georgina Wood] and Justice Gbadegbe have every right to recuse themselves but it does not change anything,” said he said.
Mr Faible added that the contempt charge is not “contempt of judge but contempt of court”.
“No matter what happens, it is the Supreme Court’s dignitary that has been bruised. So the judges who are the conveyor belt of the Supreme Court have a duty to adjudicate without intimidation from any quarter,” he stressed.
Mr Adawudu, on the other hand, said the two Justices feel that they should not be seen as judges in their own court, adding “they felt that it will not be fair and it will not serve the interest of justice to sit on the matter and pronounce on the matter.”
Mr Faible also found it strange that the court invited owners and shareholders of the radio station to be present at the contempt hearing that has been adjourned to Monday, July 18.
He said it is common knowledge among all lawyers that a company is separate and distinct from its owners, and hence when a company is purported to have done something, the persons who are answerable are the directors who we sometimes describe as the ‘directing minds’.
“I do not know the basis upon which the Supreme Court has specifically requested that the owners and the shareholders as well should come. Maybe when they appear we’ll know,” he said.
Meanwhile, Journalists were attacked as they covered the contempt proceedings. It took direct police intervention to prevent the lynching of these journalists by supporters of the contemnors, most of whom were clad in National Democratic Congress (NDC) T-Shirts and paraphernalia.