It is amazing the many futile attempts by many so-called learned Ghanaians to convincingly explain plain Constitutional Acts and laws. This problem of the Ghanaian became so conspicuous in the wake of the president’s directive to Auditor-General Daniel Yao Domelevo to take his accumulated paid annual holiday leave. Many a so-called highly educated Ghanaian came out arguing blindly, and accusing the president of causing a breach of the 1992 Constitution by his singular act of directing Auditor-General Domelevo to exhaust his accumulated paid holiday by going on leave starting from 1st July, 2020.
I have myself jumped on the bandwagon, trying to interpret the Constitutional Acts about the appointment and the rights and duties of the Auditor-General, although a layman in the legal profession as I am. The Auditor-General is although a public officer specially designated by the Constitution, certain sections of the Ghana Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) and Audit Service Act, 2000 automatically apply to him. However, some Ghanaian learned Accounting and Law professors, Law students and legal luminaries, argue that the Auditor-General being a constitutional entity is not under the control of anyone so he must be left alone to do his job without any interference of any sort by whomever. He must be left alone and free to operate as he wants when he likes, they seem to argue.
He is such an honest anti-corruption person that he should never go on leave but to work 24/7, thus, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on end, to check the NPP government that is publicly perceived to be awash in corruption, his supporters and some constitutionalists assert.
Everywhere in the world, presidents, prime ministers, members of parliament, judges, etc., do go on annual leave. The courts are known to break for a time during the year, parliament goes into recess. Such times of cessation of sessions are the annual leave for them.
Why is it that the Auditor-General Daniel Yao Domelevo has chosen not to go on his annual leave contrary to some laws which I have extensively mentioned in my previous publications, yet some learned Ghanaians feel he is right because he is a law unto himself. Does the uniqueness of his position as granted and bestowed on him by the Constitution shield him from any outside interference, be it requesting, directing or admonishing him to take his accumulated annual paid holiday?
Anyway, the Supreme Court is the sole authority to interpret and have the last word on the Constitution. Let us all wait for their declaration of finality to the arguments for and against Auditor-General Daniel Yao Domelevo being directed to use his accumulated paid holiday by going on leave.
I personally find his singular resistance to not taking his accumulated leave suspicious, if not corrupt. All public officers go on annual leave except the Auditor-General. I am going to cite another Act or law to seek the views of the public, especially, our usual learned professors and legal luminaires in Ghana. I suspect the same diverse, vexatious, frivolous and reckless arguments or opinions may be raised here as it has been with that of the altruist, honest and incorruptible Auditor-General Daniel Yao Domelevo’s.
The Chieftaincy Act 2008, Act 759, explicitly states in Section 76 what is “a cause or matter affecting chieftaincy” that no court other than the Supreme Court and the Judicial Committees of the Regional and National Houses of Chiefs have jurisdiction over.
“In explaining “a cause or matter affecting chieftaincy” the interpretation sections of both Act 459 and Act 759 provide at Sections 117 (1) and 76 respectively, as follows;
“Cause or matter affecting chieftaincy” means a cause, matter, question or dispute relating to any of the following:
1. The nomination, election, selection or installation of a person as a chief or the claim of a person to be nominated, elected, selected or installed as a chief,
2. The deposition or abdication of a chief
3. The right of a person to take part in the nomination, election, selection or installation of a person as a chief or in the deposition of a chief
4. The recovery or delivery of stool property in connection with the nomination, election, selection, installation, deposition or abdication of a chief, and
5. The Constitutional relations under customary law between chiefs”
The “Courts Act, 1993, Act 4592” states in Section 57—Limitation of Jurisdiction in Chieftaincy Matters.
“Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, Regional Tribunal, a Circuit and Community Tribunal shall not have jurisdiction to entertain either at first instance or on appeal any cause or matter affecting chieftaincy”
I want Ghanaians and all public readers to bear in mind what explicitly constitutes “a cause or matter affecting chieftaincy” as are stated above. Previously, there were, and in recent times, there are, many issues, affecting chieftaincy yet, the above are specifically selected as causes or matters affecting chieftaincy that only the Judicial Committees of the Regional and National Houses of Chiefs and the Supreme Court have the right and power to deal with.
In the 1992 Constitution under Article 157 – RULES OF COURT, Section 2, it states, “(2) The Rules of Court Committee shall, by constitutional instrument, make rules and regulations for regulating the practice and procedure of all courts in Ghana”. In Ghana, unless otherwise specified by the Constitution, the High Court has original jurisdiction in all matters, civil and criminal.
Therefore, if in the course of a chieftaincy dispute as often happens in Ghana, someone ends up killing an opponent, and the murderer is arrested by the police, charged with murder, where do the police finally take him? Do they arraign the murderer before a High Court judge or any of the Lower Courts or they have to take him before a Judicial Committee of the Regional or National House of Chiefs?
Does a High Court have jurisdiction over a criminal matter as assassination, fraud, bribery, etc. relating to chieftaincy, or however it comes about, or it doesn’t, because of her constitutional restriction from dealing with “a cause or matter affecting chieftaincy”? If the High Court has not that power, why is it that evidence abounds in Ghana where the police have taken such culprits before High Court judges, prosecuted, convicted and jailed? In such instances, have the trial High Court judges erred and if yes, why are they not punished for their acts of unprofessionalism?
Is murder, fraud or bribery part of the “cause or matter affecting chieftaincy” that the High Court is prevented by the Constitution or the Rule of Courts from dealing with? While some legal experts may say yes, I, Rockson Adofo, a layman, will say no. What is the public view about this? What are you, the reader, saying about this? Certain things stand out clearly well yet, human beings by their attitudes make such things appear artificially complicated.
I welcome your views because I am always eager to learn to add to my knowledge to make me more confident, if not powerful to overflow with wisdom. Please, don’t let us be seen to make simple and plainly worded regulations become very complex to our understanding because of our misunderstanding of the words or their legal phraseology.
Saturday, 18 July 2020