Ernest Kofi Abotsi, the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Professional Studies Accra, wants an allegation of bribery, levelled against an unnamed Supreme Court judge, to be investigated.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Asawase, Muntaka Mubarak, claims that a Supreme Court judge tried to bribe an opposition lawmaker to vote for Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye as Speaker of Parliament.
Dr Abotsi said the probe is imperative to establish the truth and also improve confidence in the judiciary.
“People have all kinds of suspicions and allegations; people say all kinds of things. But saying things when you are a Member of Parliament, I think, can demand a certain higher level of responsibility because a lot of people follow you,” he said.
Dr Abotsi added: “Again, I do not know the factual [foundation] on which the statement is based, but once the statement is not being submitted to a particular forum for investigation, and once the details of this are not mentioned, then what you do is to cast the entire Supreme Court in doubt and this is not good enough.”
He cautioned politicians, especially members of the largest opposition party, to desist from bastardising the judiciary.
“I will urge our political class to be circumspect in our pronouncements, because the courts generally survive on confidence in their work and therefore if there is an allegation, particularly one which is not established and is thrown out there, the prospect that this can not only create suspicion in the minds of people but actually dampen the mandate and legitimacy of the courts is serious.
Bastardising the court
“In many countries that fell victim to civil wars, the starting point was to bastardise the court. Once you bastardise the court, people think that there is no avenue for resolution, so they fight on the streets.
“I think we should be careful the extent to which we bastardise our courts,” the UPSA dean added.
Dr Abotsi also called on public figures, and especially parliamentarians, to be measured and circumspect in their utterances.
“I haven’t monitored the comment, but I think any general allegation that seeks to bastardise the court … can be undermining of the confidence that people have in the court and that is problematic for all, not for any political party, but for the entire country.”