We did not fight military dictatorship to become silent under a constitution – Prof Azar replies NPP lawyer

US-based Ghanaian lawyer and scholar, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare Alias Kwaku Asare, has hit back at member of the New Patriotic Party’s legal team, lawyer Gary Nimako.

Gary Nimako while reacting to submissions by Prof. Asare and investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni following a recent directive issued by the Chief Justice that cases of senior lawyers be heard before that of junior practitioners, described them as having a penchant to get involved in every conversation.

Nimako made his views public via a Facebook post in which he chastised the two who have harshly criticised the directive saying, “Sometimes I wonder whether it is important for Prof Azar and Mr Manasseh Azure Awuni, to comment on every matter in Ghana.”

Mr Nimako went on to argue that the directive by the Chief Justice goes a long way to favour junior practitioners who learn from the seniors in the courtroom.

But responding to Gary Nimako on his social media page, Prof Asare noted that, the constitution guarantees free speech while pointing out what he said are core values of the constitution that underpins same.

“My brother, Nimako Marfo, has asked why I find it necessary to comment on various issues, including the recent ‘seniority’ directive by the CJ. I am amused by the comment and I want to remind my brother that we did not fight military dictatorship only to become silent under a constitutional regime.

“I also want to remind him of three core value of the Constitution, that are inherent in the concept of ‘Development in Freedom;”

(1) “individuals make a state – states do not make individuals – therefore the Constitution guarantees, and the party believes in, freedom of expression and association, freedom from oppression, from fear and from arbitrary arrest,”

(2) “Justice is either for all or it is for none. Every Ghanaian is entitled to the protection of the law,” and
(3) “The sovereignty of our people and state should be anchored in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary,” he quoted from the Constitution.

Prof Asare went on to point out ills in the directive by the Chief Justice contained in a circular signed by Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah.

“Ghanafuo, courts are set up to administer Justice on behalf of the people. They are supposed to settle disputes between parties, not to be a forum for showcasing how senior or junior one is at the Bar.

“This is why cases are titled Kofi v Ama, rather than Junior Lawyer v Senior Lawyer. Why should the Justice system hear Kofi’s case later, even though it was filed months ahead of Kwame’s case, merely because the latter has hired a senior lawyer?” he wrote.

Describing the directive as discriminatory, Prof Asare emphasized that such a practice should not come from an institution less of the legislature.

“Why should any modern court of Justice build in such a discriminatory practice and why should the practice then be endorsed by those trained to administer Justice, let alone some of us who spent our youth fighting military dictatorships and Kangaroo courts. And why should a judge presume that a junior lawyer is in court to learn from a senior lawyer when he is also to treat them and their submissions equally?” he questioned.

He noted that it cannot be said that a lawyer is supposed to use the time meant to fight out his client’s case for learning and that the priority of a person’s case should not be determined by his choice of lawyer.

“When a client is paying to be represented, that is not the time for a lawyer to learn. That is the time for the lawyer to fight for Justice. That is not the time for the client to be told that his case lacks priority because of his choice of lawyer.

“That is not the time to let the client know that the concept of equality before the law is just a sham and a charade,” Prof Azar said.

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