Some Ghanaians are demanding the immediate resignation of the chief justice for what they described as arrogating powers exclusive to a sitting president. They threatened to petition newly elected President John Atta-Mills to sign an executive order to begin an impeachment process of Chief Justice Georgina Woods if she fails to resign Monday. The Chief Justice came under heavy criticism after allegedly ordering a Fast Track Court to adjudicate a lawsuit filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on a public holiday, an act they claim is only reserved for a president under Ghana's constitution.
But supporters of Chief Justice Woods have described the resignation demand as a witch-hunt vendetta calculated to soil her impeccable judicial reputation. The law suit sought to prevent the Electoral Commission from declaring results of the December 28 election run-off.
Political analyst Alhaji Idrissu Bature told VOA the chief justice's action nearly plunge the country in a constitutional crisis.
"If you would recall, prior to her appointment and subsequent vetting and approval by parliament, a lady sent a petition to parliament on how the chief justice helped her (chief justice's) father to annex the lady's father's land. But the parliament of Ghana refused to hear this petition. You would also recall that this lady (chief justice) was the chairperson of a committee constituted by the government of the then NPP administration to look into the missing of a 72 parcels of cocaine onboard MV Benjamin (ship). And those who were very active on the committee realized that there was a massive cover up by the then government to unravel the missing cocaine," Alhaji Bature pointed out.
He said Chief Justice Woods was accused of working in collusion with the past administration led by former President John Kufuor.
"Georgina Woods being the chairperson of that committee played a significant role in the massive cover up to the extent that some of the willing witnesses who appeared before her committee were jailed even though no exhibit of cocaine was found on them," he said.
Alhaji Bature said some Ghanaians believe the chief justice was given the job by President Kufuor not based on merit.
"She was a judge of the Appeals Court, and immediately after this job that she did (investigating the missing cocaine) she was rewarded by the government by being appointed as Ghana's Chief Justice. She also overlooked while the executive interfered in the judicial process under her supervision, which is contrary to the tenets of the constitution of Ghana," Alhaji Bature noted.
He said the chief justice unconstitutionally appointed a judge to adjudicate a lawsuit filed by the New Patriotic Party that sought to prevent the electoral commission from declaring a winner of the December 28 election run-off. Alhaji Bature adds that the chief justice directive nearly plunged the country into a political crisis.
Both the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) failed to garner more than 50 percent of the votes needed to win the December seven general election, which necessitated the election run-off.
"She had arrogated the power of a president of the republic of Ghana when she granted permission for a court to sit on an election dispute on a statutory national public holiday in the last election. Under the constitution, it is only the president of the republic that can grant a waiver for anybody to go to work. And in this case no executive instrument was published; we were not told the President His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor had done that. Yet the chief justice granted permission for the court to hear election dispute, an election dispute that nearly brought constitutional crisis to Ghana because we couldn't have met the seven January hand over as required by our constitution," he said.
Bature denied the chief justice is being politically witch-hunted.
"It is mainly a democratic and administrative issue; there is nothing like NPP, NDC, CPP (Convention People's Party) here. The fact that she helped cover up in the missing 76 parcels of cocaine does not bring partisanship into this. The fact that she allowed the executive to interfere in the administration of justice does not bring partisanship into this. So, I don't buy that criticism," Alhaji Bature noted.