The president made a good choice for CJ; I was impressed – Kofi Bentil

Ghana News

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A private legal practitioner has said that expectations that Chief Justice nominee, Sophia Akuffo would have provided detailed, indepth responses during her vetting were misplaced.

Mr. Kofi Bentil told Emefa Apawu on Joy FM’s Top Story Friday that Parliamentary vetting was not the place for depth.

He said he was impressed by both the “questions and the answers” even though the discussion of some of the issues could have been expanded.

Justice Akuffo was vetted by Parliament’s Appointments Committee for six long hours as a nominee as the country’s next Chief Justice.

She was quizzed on a broad range of issues bordering on legal education, some rulings given by the Supreme Court and the independence of the judiciary.

When asked if she supports the suggestion that the Ghana School of Law be scrapped, the Harvard-trained lawyer said that would affect legal training in the country.

“I am not one of those who subscribe to the Ghana School of Law being scrapped,” Justice Akuffo said, adding the function of the school is to provide practical training to students.

“What happens in the universities at the faculties of law is that they educate people academically on the law [but] the Ghana School of Law is a professional training facility and that is where the theories learnt in classrooms are supposed to be taught from a more practical point of view,” she said.

On the independence of the judiciary, the CJ nominee said she will shield the third arm of government from all external influences.

Private legal practitioner, Kofi Bentil

“The judicial process is supposed to be insulated not only from political influences but from all forms of influences [and] many interventions [have to be put in place to ensure this]; part of it has to do with enforcing the code of conduct of judges,” she said.

Showing a lot of stamina, Justice Sophia Akuffo, remained in her seat for the entire six hours and answered one question after the other from the 30-member Committee.

When the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu suggested that they should take a thirty-minute break, the nominee declined.

“The Chief Justice showed a lot of stamina and it was good,” Mr Bentil said, adding “I come away very impressed with the CJ and think the President made a good choice.”

A member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) legal team, Victor Kojoga Adawudu praised Justice Akuffo for demonstrating "competence" at the vetting.

"She showed that she knows her job or the office she is going to and that she is ready to do the job," he said.

He was, however, was not happy with the manner the CJ nominee handled the issues on legal education. Mr Adawudu said it was an issue he had expected Justice Akuffo to explain further but she did not.

The CJ nominee declined to answer questions on the matter because the matter is already before the court and commenting on it would be prejudicial.

The case against the General Legal Council was filed by US-based Ghanaian, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare who is questioning the legality of processes used by the Ghana School of Law to admit LL.B holders into the professional law course.

In the writ, the Minnesota-based Accounting Professor said the number of students admitted into the Law School is grossly small which undermines interest in law practice in the country.