Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and abhors traditional rulers and judges from taking part in active politics but not all of them respect that solemn requirement of the country’s superior law book.
One of them is Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga also known as Torgbui Ashui Nyagasi V.
An Appeals Court Judge in Accra and a Paramount Chief of the Nyagbo Traditional Area in the Volta Region, Justice Honyenuga/Torgbui Nyagasi V last week sidestepped the impartiality requirement for judges and chiefs when he openly urged Ghanaians to vote for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo come December 7, 2020.
And his campaign appeal to Ghanaians in favour of the President and the Presidential hopeful of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the 2020 general elections was reported by the online portal of state-owned daily newspaper, the Daily Graphic, Graphic Online.
The Daily Graphic explained that Justice Honyenuga made the call at a durbar of the chiefs and the people of Nyagbo to welcome the President, as part of his three-day tour of the Volta and Oti regions.
In the story headlined ‘President Akufo-Addo deserves another term— Paramount Chief of Nyagbo,’ the paper reported that while welcoming the President to the Volta Region and the Oti Region, Justice Honyenuga/Torgbui Nyagasi V asked Ghanaians to give President Akufo-Addo another term to implement his vision for the country.
“It is our hope that with your vision and the gains made in your first term, Ghanaians may consider giving you another four years,” he said, after congratulating the President” for the excellent manner you are governing this dear country of ours. “
Whenever Justice Honyenuga/Torgbui Nyagasi V puts on his judiciary hat in Accra, he presides over cases that include the State’s case of financial impropriety against the former CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni, and businessman, Alhaji Seidu Agongo.
The case has been variously cited by President Akufo-Addo himself and the NPP as a whole as one of the evidence that the NPP administration was in active prosecution of persons perceived to have been corrupt during the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
Article 276 (1) & (2) of the 1992 Constitution, which is rhe foundation of all laws in Ghana state that: “a chief shall not take part in active party politics, and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin.”
Beyond the learned judge’s action being an afrront to Article 276 (1) & (2) of the Constitutional, some legal luminaries have also raised issues with it being in violation of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates, of which Justice Honyenuga/Torgbui Nyagasi V is part.
A US-based lawyer and a Professor of Accounting, Stephen Kwaku Asare, said he was “utterly surprised” by the action of the judge cum traditional ruler.
In a Facebook post in reaction to the news of the judge’s campaign appeal, Prof. Kwaku Azar, as he is popularly called on social media said Justice Honyenuga/Torgbui Nyagasi V’s public endorsement of the President was “in clear violation of the judicial code of conduct.”
Under Rule 6 of the Code of Conduct, it is explicitly stated that “a judge should refrain from political activity inappropriate to his judicial office.
It said irrespective of the judge’s right to vote, “A judge or a candidate for appointment to judicial office should not: (a) Act as a leader or hold an office in a political organization; and (b) Publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for political office;” among others.
In the Facebook post, Prof. Asare said “I was utterly surprised to read that a Judge of the Superior court has publicly endorsed a candidate for political office in clear violation of the judicial code of conduct. “Of course, we do not take our laws and codes seriously but judges should do a little better,” -he said.
“128/1820 is a bona fide scam and sham,” he added, before concluding the post with his signature phrase, “Da Yie!”.
Justice Honyenuga has been tipped as one of the judges to be appointed to the Supreme Court, having served as a Court of Appeal Judge since the mid 2000s.