President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has lauded the decision of the immediate past Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, to broadcast the 2008 election petition, saying his current status as President is as a result of the unintended consequence of her decision.
The President said her decision to broadcast the proceedings of the celebrated election petition, in which he was plaintiff, together with the Vice-President and the late colleague, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, was an important moment in the nation’s political evolution.
“It exposed the vagaries of our electoral system and compelled greater vigilance on the part of activists of my party which, undoubtedly, helped us achieve the famous victory of December 7, 2016,” he stressed.
Addressing a state dinner in honour of the retired Mrs Justice Wood last Friday, the President said: “So Madam, you can see, my presence here as President is an unintended consequence of your decision. I have every reason to be grateful to you because we are metaphorically joined at the hip.”
Commenting on Mrs Justice Wood’s service to the nation, the President said Ghana owed her a debt of gratitude for the manner in which she confronted her greatest crisis — the judicial expose that Anas Aremeyaw Anas revealed to a stunned nation.
He said the measures she put in place and the way she worked methodically to regain the confidence of the skeptical population would always stand her in good stead when the history of the Ghanaian Judiciary was recorded.
“She helped restore public confidence in one of the most critical institutions of our state, the Judiciary, an important contribution to governance in our country,” the President said.
He said it was important for the spirit of the country to recognise and acknowledge the exceptional service she had rendered to the Ghanaian people.
The President recounted that apart from being the first female Chief Justice in the nation’s history, Mrs Justice Wood had also been the longest serving leader of the Judiciary.
“I had always believed that the great Justice Apaloo would enjoy that accolade, but she has confounded me and many of my contemporaries at the Bar who share that belief. It has been an outstanding career which saw her rise to its greatest height in its latter years,” he added.
The President said her service to the nation was not over and that she had taken her place on the Council of State, from where she would continue to give the nation the benefit of her experience.
He wished the retired Chief Justice a happy retirement and extended his gratitude to Mr Edwin Wood, her husband, who he said stood constantly behind her.
Former Chief Justice
For her part, Mrs Justice Wood expressed her gratitude to former President John Agyekum Kufuor for reposing confidence in her by appointing her as Chief Justice and President Akufo-Addo for putting together a state dinner in her honour.
“For these two gentlemen of our land both made history, but, unfortunately, I am the better beneficiary. The first nominated and appointed me as the first female Chief Justice. The second, successfully retired me, not only as the first lady Chief Justice but also, for the first time in the history of our country, invited me as a retired Chief Justice to serve on the Council of State.
“But, in between these two noble gentlemen of our great land, there have been two other Presidents — President Mills, who has gone to be with the Lord, and President John Dramani Mahama — who have had to ensure the continuity of my tenure as Chief Justice and, by logical extension, the health and strength of our democracy and the rule of law. I appreciate the roles they have played in my career,” she said.
The pursuit of true justice
Mrs Justice Wood said the joy of serving at the pleasure of the country in the endless pursuit of true justice and the rule of law had inspired her to rise every morning and work for that noble cause.
“In so doing, I had drawn inspiration, courage and strength from many Ghanaians. I have drawn courage and inspiration from Ghanaians, especially my father, William Lantei Lutterodt, who was laid to rest a couple of weeks ago. I have drawn strength from my family, especially my husband, Edwin, who is my chief counsellor and support, as well as other family members,” she recounted.
She was also appreciative of the Christian community and other faiths that had supported her in prayer, as well as the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), which had constantly supported her progress at the Bar and in the Judiciary.
“I encourage all judges to work hard at exhibiting true integrity and they can count on the support of the GBA,” she added.