Can we trust our judicial system in Ghana?
In a democratic system such as our here in Ghana, the only place one can turn to when one feel aggrieved or cheated is the courts.
But the question one has to ask is whether we can trust our courts—especially the lower courts. When people feel aggrieved and you advise them to take the matter to court, the reply they will give you is this, “Ghana courts? I don’t have time to be going in and out of court for over two years with a case which should take less than six months.”
Our people have lost confidence in our courts and our judges, together with all who are concerned with our judicial system, are aware and no one is doing anything about the situation. We are waiting until one day things will explode.
My wife has a case in the Manya Krobo Circuit Court which has been travelling for over two years now. In our estimation, this case should have travelled less than six months—even though we not a lawyer. Anytime we go to court, we are told the prosecutor is not in court. Sometimes when the prosecutor is there, the case would not be called. The same case has been heard more than three times because, on some occasions, the judge would seem lost as to where he has reached with the case. The prosecutor would pretend that he does not know where the case has reached; then the judge would ask that the case is started all over again. Can you imagine the frustration?
We were residing in Somanya when the case started and have since been transferred to Winneba. We have been in Winneba over a year now and every time my wife would have to travel to Odumase Krobo only for the case to be adjourned. When she raises he hand in the court to complain, the court attendants or is it the interpreter would shut her down. You are virtually treated like a slave in that courtroom. Fear is what reigns in that court. The poor and uneducated are intimidated and no one speaks for them.
Finally when the prosecutor told my wife that the case has ended and what was expected was the judge passing his judgement, the docket mysteriously got lost in the court. My wife went to court several times from Winneba and all she has been continuously told is that the docket cannot be found. We confronted the registrar and he seems to have nothing to do about the situation. I asked him what happing to the court workers when dockets are lost and he couldn’t tell me anything. No one is held responsible when dockets get lost in the Manya Krobo Circuit Court.
How can we live in a country like this where laws don’t work and justice is perverted? We have forgotten the profound saying that. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” After pilling some pressure on the registrar, he sent a whatsapp message to me that my wife should come to court. She travelled again from Winneba only to be told that the prosecutor was bereaved and could not come to court. Meanwhile, the registrar and the prosecutor told us that the case was due for judgement, so we wonder what the prosecutor was need to do again in the case. We suspect that they are preparing the ground to start this case all over again.
My wife has been home for two years now because of this case. What she depends on in trading is what has been involved in the litigation and for two years now, the court i only playing games with us. The challenge now is that there seems to be no avenue to report your concern when one is being frustrated in situations like this. The judges have the field day in court because they seem untouchable. I have decided to write to the media to register my concern about the frustrations people are encountering in our courts.
There must be avenues for people to report issues when they feel cheated since not all are capable of taking lawyers. And even sometimes, our lawyers themselves are frustrated and some of them also compromise with the corrupt court systems. The government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo must stand up for the citizens, especially the poor who are getting cheated. To our courts, let them hear the admonition God, through the prophet Amos, gave to the leaders and judges of Israel, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24 ESV).
Columnist: Rev. F. L. Sackitey, Winneba