The Chairman of Parliament’s Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has declared that the Minority members’ refusal to vote on the President’s nominee for Chief Justice cannot be detrimental to the committee’s report.
The opposition NDC members on the Appointments Committee declined to vote on the President’s nominee, Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo, last Friday due to the absence of the Supreme Court’s reasoned judgment in the case of the ousted MP for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson.
This came after they had participated in the nominee’s public vetting, saying that “it was imperative for Members of the Minority on the Committee to evaluate the nominee’s decisions on all other cases, including the James Gyakye Quayson case, since [her last] vetting in 2019.”
However, the Committee’s Chairman, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who is also the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said the move by the Minority members “does not have any effect at all.”
Mr. Osei-Owusu, who is popularly known as Joe Wise, explained, “Decision in accordance with our Standing Orders is either you recommend the nominee by a majority or by consensus.”
“So if we don’t not recommend her, it means that the majority says no or all of us say no. If we recommend her to the House it means the majority says yes or all of us say yes,” he told Asaase Radio yesterday.
“This time the majority says yes and that is the recommendation to the House,” he continued.
According to him, when that happens, after the report is discussed, the House will approve the nominee by secret ballot, but if she was suggested by consensus, MPs at the plenary will merely take a voice vote to approve or otherwise of the nominee.
“As of now, it does not have any effect at all. If they wanted that to probably inform their question on or to her, that is all. But after the completion of the process, they cannot let a decision abide, whether they get a copy or not,” he stressed.
Justice Gertrude Torkornoo was nominated Chief Justice by President Akufo-Addo, pursuant to Article 144 of the 1992 Constitution, to replace Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, who reached the statutory retirement age of 70 on May 24, 2023.
In accordance with Standing Order 172 of the Parliament of Ghana, the Speaker referred the nomination to the Appointments Committee for consideration, report and approval of the House.
The MPs had been recalled from recess to deal with some urgent financial agreements when a communication from the presidency on the nomination was read to them.
Justice Torkornoo would become Ghana’s third female Chief Justice, following in the footsteps of Justices Georgina Theodora Wood and Sophia Akuffo, when approved by Parliament.
And Justice Torkornoo would be President Akufo-Addo’s third Chief Justice appointment since assuming office in January 2017.
President Akufo-Addo explained in a letter to the House that he decided to initiate the process in order to avoid a vacuum in the office of Chief Justice.
“To that end, by letter, dated April 25, 2023, pursuant to Article 144 (1) of the Constitution, I consulted with the Council of State on my nominee, Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo, Justice of the Supreme Court, who has been on the Supreme Court for the last four (4) years, and has been a member of the judiciary for the last 19 years, to succeed Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah,” the letter read in part.
The President continued, “The Council of State has notified me by letter under the hand of its Chairperson, dated April 28, 2023, of the successful completion of the consultation process.”
By Ernest Kofi Adu