President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday named Ms Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, a supreme court Judge, as the new Chief Justice of Ghana, to succeed Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who retires on June 8, 2017.
Ms Akuffo, the second woman to assume that high Office, becomes the 13th Chief Justice of the Republic.
At a short ceremony at the Flagstaff House to outdoor the new Chief Justice, President Akufo-Addo said government was determined to build a new Ghanaian civilisation, where the rule of law was not a slogan, but an operating principle for the development of the State.
He said he envisaged a Ghana where the separation of powers was real and meaningful, where the liberties and rights of our people were fully protected, and where law and order provided a firm basis for social and economic development, so that the dreams of prosperity that animated the great patriots, who were the founders of the nation, could find expression in our generation.
The President expressed optimism that Justice Akuffo would be a worthy successor to Chief Justice Wood and uphold jealously, the independence of the Judiciary.
“I expect discipline, fairness, integrity and the continuing modernisation of judicial activities to be the hallmarks of her tenure as Chief Justice, if she is so endorsed by the constitutional bodies, “he added.
President Akufo-Addo said it was imperative that the Judiciary commanded respect of the nation by the quality of its justice delivery, as well as by the comportment of its judges.
“We are all witnesses to the stormy winds that have buffeted the Judiciary in recent years and to the efforts Chief Justice Wood has been making to restore public confidence in the institution. I expect Justice Akuffo to continue and intensify that work, he stressed.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said the Judiciary had the onerous responsibility of defending the liberties and the rights of the people and that it could only discharge that responsibility effectively if it had the unalloyed respect of the people.
He said he had known Justice Sophia Akuffo for over forty years and that she impressed him considerably “with her hard work, her capacity for detailed research, her independence of mind and spirit, her honesty and integrity, her deep-seated respect for the rule of law, and her abiding belief in the sovereignty of Almighty God.”
The President expressed the optimism that the qualities which had sustained her brilliant career as a lawyer that propelled her to the notice of the first President of the 4th Republic, former President Jerry John Rawlings, who appointed her to the Supreme Court on November 30, 1995, would be brought to bear on the new position she was assuming.
He said she had been one of the leading lights of the Court since her appointment, and her contribution to the Courts work and the growth of the nation’s jurisprudence had been extensive.
“She has enriched her judicial experience by serving with credit on continental judicial bodies such as; the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, where she ended up as President of the Court, he added.
President Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, for her distinguished service to Ghana, and wished her a well-earned retirement, even though her public service will not be over as her place on the Council of State awaited her.
Ms Akuffo, is the next most Senior on the highest court of the land after Mr Justice William Atuguba, who is billed to retire soon.
Many had tipped Mr Justice Jones Victor Mawulom Dotse as the front runner in the race for the position of the fourth most powerful person in Ghana.
Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo has been at the Supreme Court for the past two decades and has a Masters’ degree in Law (LL.M) from the Harvard University in the United States of America (USA).
She has been a member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Task Force.
In January 2006, she was elected one of the first judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and was re-elected until 2014 when she served as the Vice-President. She is the immediate past President of the court.
She is on the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council and has held membership of many organisations.
Her publications include; The Application of Information & Communications Technology in the Judicial Process – The Ghanaian Experience, Presented to the African Judicial Network Ghana (2002).