I Judge Based On Law – SC Nominee

Justice Ernest Yao Gaewu

A SUPREME Court nominee, Justice Ernest Yao Gaewu, has dismissed suggestions that his past association with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will influence his work at the apex court.

According to him, he has always given judgment based on the law and not political colouration, citing a defamation case that was brought before him by Dr. Stephen Opuni against the NPP Bono Regional Chairman, Kwame Baffoe aka Abronye DC.

Answering questions before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Justice Gaewo said judgment was given in favour of the plaintiff, adding, “I gave the judgment based on the law and not on political colouration.”

Justice Gaewu, who has been a High Court Judge for two years, was the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate for Ho Central in the 2016 general election.

He told the Committee that he resigned from the NPP in 2020 to be on the bench as a judge for the High Court, and had since played by the rules in the Judiciary.

“I am already on the bench, having sworn the oath of allegiance, secrecy and the judiciary oath. I have not been partisan. Going into politics is a constitutional right, I don’t think my politics has affected my work,” the Supreme Court nominee asserted.

Justice Gaewu also disagreed with suggestions that the number of judges at the apex court was too much, arguing that the numbers in the Supreme Court are reflections of the caseload there.

“I have listened to the arguments and debates among lawyers and judges. When you look at the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, appeals from the Court of Appeal are acts of rights.

“Whether the case borders on precedence which has already been settled and you file, the Supreme Court has to hear as opposed to certain jurisdictions,” he explained.

Justice Gaewu said in the US, which is always cited as an example, the apex court there has a right to “pick and choose” which cases it wants to hear.

“But here, no matter how feverous the case is, the Supreme Court has to sit on it. There are situations where we are in a community. I come from Agbotia and have practised all my life in the Volta Region.

“I have done almost all the chieftaincy cases in my community. When a case of that nature comes [to the Supreme Court], I will not be able to sit on some of these cases. I definitely have to recuse myself, and that is why there is the need for some balancing,” he explained.

He called for the acts of right provision to be looked at again to enable the country to reduce the cases that travel to the apex court.

Justice Gaewu also called for the death penalty to be scrapped since an error in convicting an innocent person to death would make it impossible to bring back that life when it is later discovered.

BY Ernest Kofi Adu