“It is my great hope that our paths, however long and winding, will cross again” – Jonathan Safram Foer
Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, Chief Justice of Ghana, head of the third arm of government leaves office on 24th May, 2023, head high, shoulders up, chest out…Yaw Boafo Esquire President of the Ghana Bar Association quotes Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “For everything there is a season… a time to be born…a time to die …a time to weep and a time to laugh.”
The President says it all: “Chief Justice Anin Yeboah has been an exceptional leader to the judiciary. He has guarded jealously the judiciary and his conduct has brought honour to the country. Not only has he continued with the modernization of activities of the judiciary, but his tenure of office has also seen arguably the largest infrastructural development undertaken in the history of the judiciary”.
“I’m really grateful to the President and the GBA for supporting me all this while. I really appreciate it”, he replies succinctly.
There would be no need to romanticize his background, embellish his history and fantasize his future. It would be vainglorious and uncharacteristic of his persona in his autobiography.
He would remember, especially his childhood days at Nkroma Roman Catholic Primary School where he had to walk barefooted to fetch water from the river and also go barefooted to Mmofra – mfa- Adwen to play football. Then Amaniampong and Apam.
When our paths crossed at Commonwealth Hall, he would always be seen with his books, even at the Observatory, where he would enjoy the cool scintillating songs- and dash to Effah Dartey’s room to check the day’s news from Effah’s well – kept stock of daily newspapers. He was a master of “Procedure”.
Toase–born Kwasi worked as Assistant State Attorney upon graduation as a lawyer in 1981 then became a partner in Yaw Barimah’s Afisem Chambers at Koforidua. He was President of the Eastern Region branch of the Ghana Bar Association, handling the affairs of the Association efficiently.
It was in June 2002 that President J.A Kufuor picked him from the Bar and put him in the Judiciary as a High Court judge. But after only a year’s stint at the High Court his unblemished worth was noticed and he was elevated to the Court of Appeal in September 2003. In June 2008, he was promoted again to the Supreme Court, and in January, 2020 he was made Chief Justice, taking over from her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo.
As an active football player himself, he played an active role as Chairman of the Appeal Committee of the Ghana Football Association from 2004 to 2008. He also served as Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of the 67th FIFA Congress in Bahrain; also chairman of the Ethics Committee of FIFA; also a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF); and Chairman of the Legal Aid Board.
When Kwasi Anin Yeboah was nominated by President Nana Addo to replace Sophia Akuffo in December 2019, his vetting by Parliament was opposed by the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA). His charge: An allegation that he had not declared his assets as required by law. CHRAJ threw out this allegation raised by Mensah Thompson, CEO of ASEPA because Anin Yeboah had complied with Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution. Kwasi was sworn in as Chief Justice on 7th January, 2020.
Despite his heavy load of work as a Justice of the Supreme Court, he still found time to lecture part-time in Civil Procedure and Ghana Legal System at the Ghana School of Law, Makola. His son could not gain admission to the Ghana School of Law… and they had to go to the Gambia…
Kwasi’s reign as Chief Justice had not been all-rosy. There was an election petition pursued by John Dramani Mahama (Petitioner) and (1) the Electoral Commission and (2) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. (Respondents). Lawyers may reflect on the Standard of Proof, Burden of Proof and Persuasion as under sections 10, 11 and 12 of the Evidence Act (NRCD 323) and the reliance on “Preponderance of the probabilities”… Check also the holding in the case Ackah v Pergah Transport Ltd (2010) SCGLR 728 @ 736: “It is a basic principle of the law of evidence that a party who bears the burden of proof is to produce the required evidence of the facts in issue that has the quality of credibility short of which his claim may fail”. Their Lordships asked: Q:I am saying that you have not provided any basis of your own for your call for a run – off? Asideu Nketiah: No, my lords, we have not brought that data here, we did not consider it necessary to bring any such data here.” In conclusion their Lordships stated” The Petitioner has not produced any evidence to rebut the presumption created by the publication of C1 135 for which his action must fail.
We have, therefore, no reason to order for a re-run as prayed by the Petitioner as in relief (f). We accordingly dismiss the Petition as having no merit”
With Anin–Yeboah as Chief Justice, were Yaw Appau, S.K. Marful – Sau, N.A. Amegatcher, Prof. N.A. Kotey, M. Owusu (Ms), G. Torkornoo. The decision was 7-0; unanimous.
The lawyers for petitioner were TsatsuTsikata with Tony Lithur; those for 1st Respondent were Justin Amenuvor with A.A. Somuah Asamoah; those for 2nd Respondent were Akoto Ampaw with Frank Davies, Kwaku Asirifi and Yaw Oppong.
Then Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta Chief of Gomoa Afransi petitioned the Ghana Legal Council to intervene in his failed attempt to retrieve of $75,000 being part of $100,000 he had allegedly given to Lawyer Afrifa who had requested same for “ways and means” – to enable him to procure a favourable verdict from the apex court. Lawyer Afrifa alleged that he had to refund $100,000 out of $300,000 to enable his client to pay a $5m bribe to the Chief Justice Kwasi Anin –Yeboah!
The Chief Justice said “I do not know the Plaintiff. l have not met him or seen him anywhere, except in the courtroom when his case is called.”
Kwasi shrugged off all the criticisms and did not allow any of the hazards of the job to bog him down. He carried himself through and succeeded in bringing justice to the door-steps of many communities; opening up several courts, the last at Ngleshie-Amanfro and Dansoman.
When the President inaugurated the new permanent residential facilities for Court of Appeal judges in Kumasi on 20th April, 2021, he remarked: ”… the itinerant Court of Appeal, moving from Accra to sit in Kumasi, Tamale, Ho, Koforidua and Cape Coast delays the adjudication process. The associated financial implication of this arrangement has, over the years, been of grave concern in the dispensation of justice. The establishment of a permanent modern Court of Appeal Complex in Kumasi will help improve the justice delivery system for the northern sector of the country…”
To Justice Gertrude Torkono who is likely to wear the robes of Chief Justice,
our humble advice will be not to expect hallelujah and hosanna. She should be guided by her uprightness, conscience and justice. In John Ploughman’s Talk” Charles Spurgeon advises us: “Do not be all sugar or the world will suck you down but, do not be all vinegar or the world will spit you out”
By Africanus Owusu Ansah