President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday swore into office Ghana’s thirteenth Chief Justice Sophia Abena Boafowaa Akuffo, optimistic that she would bring honour to both the Judiciary and the country.
“I am confident that she will be an effective leader in the judiciary, and will guard jealousy its independence…She will bring honour to the Judiciary and to our country,” he said at the short ceremony at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra.
Justice Sophia Akufo is the second female to have assumed that position in the history of Ghana. She replaced the immediate past Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who retired in early June.
She took the Oaths of Allegiance, Judicial and Secrecy; and received the instrument of appointment from the President.
President Akufo-Addo said Justice Akuffo’s noted attributes of “hard work, discipline, capacity for detailed research, intimate knowledge of the law, independence of mind and spirit, honesty and integrity, deep-seated respect for the rule of law and for the best traditions of the legal profession, abiding belief in the sovereignty of Almighty God”, would serve her well in her new office.
He said those characteristics were what had sustained Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo’s brilliant career as a lawyer, and which propelled her to the notice of the first President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, who appointed her to the Supreme Court on 30th November, 1995, some 22 years ago.
Since then, President Akufo-Addo stressed that Justice Sophia Akuffo “has been one of the leading lights of the Court, and her contribution to the Court’s work and the growth of our nation’s jurisprudence has been extensive.”
“She has justified the confidence reposed in her by President Rawlings. She has now to justify the confidence I am reposing in her as Chief Justice.”
The President applauded Justice Sophia Akuffo on her well-deserved appointment, adding that “she will be walking in the footsteps of the twelfth previous occupants of the office, whose names read like a veritable Who’s-Who of Ghana’s legal profession.”
He was optimistic that Justice Sophia Akuffo would continue with Chief Justice Wood’s agenda of redeeming the image of the Judiciary and strengthening its accountability, proceeding with the modernisation of judicial activities, and establishing more specialist courts to improve the quality of judicial administration.
“These should be the hallmarks of her tenure as Chief Justice. I assure her of the full co-operation of my government as a genuine and trusted partner so that, together, the Executive and the Judiciary can co-operate in a spirit of mutual respect to realise the welfare and progress of our people,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo thanked Justice William Atuguba for holding the fort, as Acting Chief Justice, during the period of the retirement of Chief Justice Georgina Wood and the swearing into office, on Monday, of Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo.
“I observed that, during the vetting process of Justice Sophia Akuffo in Parliament, on Friday, June 16, he, together with other members of the Supreme Court, were present in Parliament to lend their support to her nomination. This was a highly commendable gesture,” he added.
The President was hopeful that that same level of support would be extended to Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, as she assumes the mantle of head of the Judiciary.
“To her colleagues on the Bench and to members of the Bar, I urge your continued solidarity and co-operation with the new Chief Justice to promote the rule of law. That will be in line with the finest traditions of the Bench and the Bar, and will help advance the welfare of our people,” he added.
The President used the the swearing-in of Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo to pay tribute to her predecessor, Chief Justice Georgina Wood, for her leadership of the Judiciary over the course of the past decade.
As the twelfth Chief Justice, the first female to head the Judiciary, and its longest serving leader, President Akufo-Addo noted that “her career has been extraordinary, truly historic, and, amongst others, she has the enviable record of having sworn into office three Presidents of the Republic.”
The ultimate test of her leadership, he said, came two years ago, during the dramatic exposé of corruption in the Judiciary by one of the nation’s leading investigative journalists.
“We have not yet lived down the trauma of the excruciating shock and embarrassment of seeing officers of our courts in such compromising situations. She, however, quickly rose to the challenge, and introduced reforms to restore some dignity to the Judiciary and re-establish the confidence of Ghanaians in the Judiciary,” he said.
The President continued, “I pay warm tribute to her distinguished service to our nation, and wish her a well-earned retirement, even though her public service is still not over, as she has now to take her place on the Council of State as a former Chief Justice. President Kufuor’s judgement, in selecting her for the office, has been roundly vindicated.”
The ceremony was witnessed by Vice President Muhamadu Bawumia, the Speaker of Parliament, Mike Aaron Oquaye, former Presidents; Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, members of the council of state, legislators, members of the Bar, political big wigs, traditional rulers, the clergy among other others.