President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday, May 12, 2017 surprised many people when at the eleventh hour he chose Justice Sophia Akuffo over Justice Jones Dotse as the new Chief Justice.
Sources at the seat of government told Today that the contest on who succeeds Justice Georgina Theodora Wood as the new Chief Justice until the nomination of Justice Akuffo, was between Justices Dotse and Anin Yeboah, with the former being the favourite.
What changed the earlier decision of the President to settle on Justice Sophia Akuffo, instead of Justice Dotse, our sources said, was due to a multiplicity of factors which some stalwarts of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) described as “irrelevant.”
“Although Justice Sophia Akuffo has impeccable legal records, the President should not have bowed to pressure to change Dotse,” a member of the NPP Council of Elders, told Today on condition of anonymity at the weekend.
According to our sources at the Flagstaff House, a day before President Akufo-Addo settled on Justice Sophia Akuffo, a meeting was held at the instance of some pastors and party big shots where the President was asked to reconsider his decision to appoint Justice Dotse as the next Chief Justice.
“And with the kind of respect the President has for these pastors and the party leading members, there was little he could do in that circumstances than to listen to them, hence the nomination of Justice Akuffo instead of Justice Dotse,” the source said.
Justice Akuffo, if approved by the legislative body, will take over from Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who will retire on June 8, 2017. She will also be the second woman to serve in that position, and the fifth Chief Justice under the Fourth Republic.
In making the announcement on that Friday, the President noted that he has known the new CJ for nearly forty years, and trusted in her ability and integrity to deliver.
“I have known Justice Sophia Akuffo well for over forty years. Indeed, she was my first junior in practice, as barristers call their work. She impresses me considerably with her hard work, her capacity for detailed research, her independence of mind and spirit, her honesty and integrity, her deep-seated respect for rule of law and her abiding belief in the sovereignty of the Almighty God. I believe these are the qualities which sustained her brilliant career as a lawyer that propelled her to the notice of the first President of the Fourth Republic, His Excellency, Jerry John Rawlings, who appointed her to the Supreme Court on 30th November, 1995; some 22 years ago. She has been one of the leading lights of the court since her appointment, and her contribution to the court’s work and the growth of our nation’s jurisprudence has been extensive,” the President said.
He added that “she has enriched her judicial experience by serving with credit on continental judicial bodies, such as the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, where she ended up as President of the Court. I have no doubt that Justice Akuffo will be a worthy successor to Chief Justice Wood, and uphold jealously the independence of the judiciary. I expect discipline, fairness, integrity and the continuing modernisation of judicial activities to be the hallmark of her tenure if she’s so endorsed by the constitutional bodies.”