Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah has charged Ghanaians to protect the democracy the country is currently enjoying, by boldly defending and protecting the Constitution at all times.
The call was made in a speech read on his behalf by a Court of Appeals Judge, Professor Justice Sir Dennis Adjei, at the 16th Annual Celebration of the ‘Re Akoto Memorial Lecture’ organised by the Ghana School of Law at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on Wednesday.
“We must perform our duties as citizens by working collectively to protect and safeguard the Constitution irrespective of the circumstances in which we find ourselves,” he advised.
The Chief Justice explained that protection of the constitution is a duty of every Ghanaian. This is because the country’s rule of law, freedom of speech and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry needed to transform society are inherent in the Constitution.
“Oppressive rule, dictatorship and the gross violations of the fundamental human rights of the people should not be tolerated in Ghana’s politics,” he noted.
The ‘Re Akoto Memorial’ annual lecture is used to commemorate the significance of the classic case of ‘Re: Akoto and 7 others’ in Ghana’s constitutional dispensation. The Memorial Lecture was instituted by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who is also the life patron of the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the Ghana School of Law. The lecture seeks to promote research and educate the citizenry on the development of Ghana’s constitutional democracy and human rights.
The lecture in the past has had contributors like President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, Professor K. Date-Bah, Nana Dr S.K. B Asante, the late Peter Ala Adjetey, the late Prof A.K.P Kludze, Prof. Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, Prof. Raymond Atuguba and the current Director of Legal Education at the Ghana School of Law, Mr. Maxwell Opoku Agyemang.
This year’s anniversary was held on the theme ‘The legacy of Baffour Osei Akoto: A Family Man, A Chief and A Statesman’.
This year’s event sought to highlight the significance of Baffuor Osei Akoto (1904-2002) in the past and contemporary Ghanaian politics concerning the political tradition he inspired and belonged to.
He was an agriculturist, traditional ruler and politician, and also the founder of the National Liberation Movement in 1954.
Fight against oppression
The Chief Justice described the late statesman as a man who “fought against oppression and dictatorship.”
“Though he was a chief, he found the need to fight for the common man and exhibited great wisdom and objectivity in dealing with important public issues,” he said.
According to the Chief Justice, the late Baffour Akoto deserves tribute for speaking against violations of fundamental human rights and abuse of power, as he sought to promote the principles of the rule of law.
He cited how the late statesman and seven others were arrested and detained under the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) without trial.
In spite of these struggles, he said, the late statesman kept enduring the hardships associated with the fight for the freedom of speech and promotion of the fundamental human rights of the people.
“Therefore, the celebration of the Akoto Memorial Lectures should rekindle in us the spirit of factualism. That is what he did and suffered for it,” Chief Justice Anin Yeboah noted.
According to the Chief Justice, the history of the late statesman should serve as guiding principles for adherents of democracy.
“We are expected to contribute positively to the community where we live and defend the Constitution and other laws of Ghana. That is what the late Baffour Akoto sought to do. He was chief par excellence, but he did not use his position to intimidate the weak and vulnerable in society.
“Indeed, we can conclude that he was a man of integrity and his life should change us for the better,” Justice Yeboah said.
The Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, noted that the late Statesman played no mean a role in promoting constitutional rule in Ghana.
The immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, also eulogized the late Baffour Osei Akoto for the instrumental role he played in helping to build a democratic Ghana.
“When Ghanaians delight in the 1992 Constitution which upholds fundamental human rights, we should spare a thought for Baffuor and several others and delight in the Akufo-Addo Constitution of 1969 – the Charter of Liberty,” he noted.
According to the former Speaker, the struggles and vociferous nature of the late Baffour Akoto as well as other political activists who fought against autocratic rule would later catapult the country towards the path for the rule of law.