Justice Mariama Owusu pledges to uphold law over bigotry

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, Dec 9, GNA – Justice
Mariama Owusu, an Appeal Court Judge appearing before the Appointments
Committee of Parliament on Monday, during vetting to the Supreme Court, pledged
to hold the tenets of the law in her rulings at the apex court and not on
faith.

She accepted the
offer not to answer whether she is currently a practising Muslim, but stated
strongly that faith should not override the law, as her judgements would cut
across conservative, liberal or socialist views.

The issue about
conflict between law and religion in rulings came up, nearly generating
controversy, as the prospective Supreme Court Judge, 65, nominated by President
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last November, responded to what her position would
be in case of a tango between faith and the law on the right marriage age, and
property owning rights for females.

The President
nominated Justice Owusu, and two other females – Justice Gertrude Torkornoo and
Justice Avril Lovelace Johnson, both Appeal Court Judges for the Supreme Court,
subject to approval by Parliament.

Per Article 144
Clause 1 of the 1992 Constitution, the President appoints a justice of the
Supreme Court as Chief Justice, in consultation with the Council of State and
with the approval of Parliament.

Article 144 (2) also
enjoins the President to consult with the Council of State and submit the names
and curricula vitae of nominees for appointment to the Supreme Court.

After the completion
of consultations with the Council of State, in accordance with Article 144 (2),
the President then has to seek the approval of Parliament for the appointment
of the nominees as justices of the Supreme Court.

Tons of commendation
poured in from members of the Appointments Committee, chaired by Mr Joseph
Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker and MP for Bekwai, to the nominee, who was
in justice administration for 38 years, with 29 of those at the bench.

She looked younger
than her age, which also attracted commendation by the Committee.

Justice Owusu said
it was necessary to adopt a purposeful approach to justice administration and
allow lower courts to act as apex courts rather than all kinds of cases
traveling to the Supreme Court

She said individuals
should be able to enter into a court and not necessarily to litigate, but to
learn, explaining that the Judiciary should be more opened to members of the
public.

“The courtroom is a
public place,” the nominee said, and further stressed the need for more education
on the activities of the Judiciary.

She said the
perception that the court in Ghana being conservative still exists, and called
for the rules of court processes to be given a second look. “We need to do
things in a more open way,” the nominee said.

On legal education,
Justice Owusu praised the expansion and opening up more campuses for legal
education, but stated that there was the need to maintain standards.

Justice Owusu
disagreed that position that children who helped with house chores, and assisted
their parents on the farm after school hours and during vacation were being
exploited in child labour, as she said that was part of their upbringing, and
many cocoa and other farmers do not engage in mechanised farming.

However, she called
for more sensitisation on the trafficking of children under the pretext by
traffickers of seeking them jobs abroad, citing that some of the porous borders
and entry points were a contributory factor in the trafficking of humans.

Justice Owusu urged
parents to question intensely people who front to send children to secure them
jobs as she called for more encouragement for people to go to school.

She described a
ruling she gave in a case involving the NDK Financial Services and the Ministry
of Energy, where she ruled for the enforcement of undertaking, a judgement
which she said was enforced by the Supreme Court as cases for which she would
be remembered.

When the nominee was
asked about her judicial temperament, she said there was no need for a judge to
enter into an arena of conflict. “You don’t have to be angry with the lawyer.
After all you have the last say,” she said, adding that a ruling should make
one relaxed.

The last Supreme
Court appointments were made in July 2018. They involved four justices, namely;
Justice Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Justice Agnes M. A. Dordzie, Prof. Nii Ashie
Kotey and Nene A. O. Amegatcher.

The current Chief
Justice is due for retirement by this month (December 2019).

She was appointed to
the Supreme Court on November 30, 1995.

GNA

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