Former Deputy Attorney General, Dr Dominic Ayine, has through his lawyers registered an objection to the participation of Council of State member, Sam Awuku Okudzeto, in disciplinary proceedings against him.
Dr Ayine is accused by the General Legal Council (GLC) of questioning the independence of the judiciary in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Judgement on the 2020 election petition filed by John Mahama.
Dr Ayine in May 2021 participated in a Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Law Faculty of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) virtual Roundtable/Webinar on the topic “Presidential Election Petitions and their impact on Africa’s Democracy”.
He was asked by the moderator whether or not at the end of the case, his faith In the judiciary had been enhanced or weakened.
The Bolga East MP stated that he had expected the Supreme Court, building on the December 2013 Presidential Election Petition, to be more faithful to legal precedent, more open in the application of the law for purposes of holding the Electoral Commission accountable, and more faithful in its application of the rules of procedure in terms of adducing evidence by the Petitioner in proving his case.
According to him, the fact that all nine Supreme Court judges were unanimous in rejecting almost every application of the Petitioner that he had brought was “telling” in terms of the open-mindedness of the justices as far as the Petition was concerned.
He also expressed concern about the lack of reasons for the rulings given by the Supreme Court. According to him, “at the end of the day, the Petition dampened his hopes with respect to the independence of the judiciary especially its ability to hold the Electoral Commission in particular accountable in election petitions”.
The Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah on May 25, 2021, directed the Judicial Secretary to make a complaint against Dr Ayine at the Disciplinary Committee of the Council.
The committee invited comments from the former Deputy AG on the complaints and after receiving his response held a preliminary enquiry.
He was slapped with charges including Misconduct in a professional respect, contrary to rule 61(b)(i) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette Rules) 2020(L.I. 2423), Misconduct in a professional respect, contrary to rule 61(bXii) L.I. 2423; and Misconduct in a professional respect, contrary to rule 89(c) of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette Rules, 2020 (L.I. 2423).
The Committee after its enquiry concluded that a prima facie case of professional misconduct has been made for which the charges should be levelled against Dr Ayine.
The former Deputy AG however wants Council of State Member Sam Okudzeto out of the panel hearing the matter.
He commences his objection by first pointing out that Mr Okudzeto is a direct appointee of President Akufo-Addo on the Council of State deriving pecuniary benefit.
He notes that Mr Okudzeto on December 16, 2020, granted an interview to Accra based Citi FM.
“During the interview, he scathingly berated and questioned the basis upon which the Petitioner was challenging the outcome of the results of the December 2020 Presidential Election, taking the view that NDC was negligent and therefore could not attack the Electoral Commission on the outcome of the results”, Dr Ayine states in his objection.
He points out that the CDD discussion he participated in was purely a political engagement.
He, therefore, states that any adjudicator who participates in the proceedings against him
“must not only be seen to be neutral, but also removed from, and completely independent of, the politics of the Petition and the two major political parties involved in it.”
He concludes that; “Mr Samuel Okudzeto also derives prestige and pecuniary benefits from his appointment. In the circumstances, we think, respectfully, that the legality or legitimacy of his appointment to the Council of State is a source of disqualifying bias, apart from the issue of pecuniary benefit.
“Further, a presidential election petition is a direct product of politics at the highest level. The subject matter of the complaint, in this case, is an offshoot of a presidential election petition.
“Mr Samuel Okudzeto comes onto the Panel with a political association, sympathy and link, which, coupled with the public comments that he had made prior to the Petition strongly suggest that he cannot bring an objective judgment to bear on the matter before the Committee.
“He should, therefore, not be sitting on the Panel in judgment over Dr Ayine’s conduct.”