By Alhaji Iddi Muhayu-Deen
The Judiciary, from the citizen’s point of view, is undoubtedly the most important organ of State as it is the body that acts as the people’s protector against possible excesses of the Legislative and Executive organs. Equally, the Judiciary serves as not only the guardian and protector of the Constitution but, more importantly, it also serves as the protector of the fundamental rights of the people.
To this extent, the people’s confidence in the Judiciary must at all times be high, and so any act that seeks to denigrate the Judiciary and make people lose confidence in this all-important organ of State should not be tolerated. It is against this backdrop that I find as most distasteful and reprehensible the misconduct of the NDC Member of Parliament for Asawase and Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak.
The MP, who has notoriously been at the centre of every bribery allegation in Parliament, had recently accused an unnamed justice of the nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court, of attempting to bribe a female colleague of his during the contest for the speakership of Parliament. This unfounded accusation had, without doubt, brought great dissatisfaction to the Judiciary and subjected all the 17 respected justices of the Supreme Court to public ridicule and opprobrium.
The gravity of Muntaka’s misconduct is so serious that a mere retraction and apology cannot suffice. More so, that, in his so-called letter of apology, Muntaka failed to admit that the allegations he made were untrue and without basis. Indeed, he [Muntaka] claims he was apologizing because, his failure to name the specific judge at the centre of affairs, has had the effect of scandalizing the Judiciary in its entirety. He hasn’t said his allegations were untrue.
Getting to the bottom
Obviously, such a qualified apology from him can certainly not end this matter. Ghanaians want to get to the bottom of this matter. We deserve to know in particular whether or not Muntaka lied and his motivation for doing so. And if Muntaka was not lying, we deserve to know which of the respected justices of the Apex Court stoop this low. Ultimately, either Muntaka or the “corrupt judge”, whoever is culpable, must be held responsible for his culpability and punished accordingly. There is no doubt that the only way we can get to the bottom of this matter is to demand proper investigation.
Muntaka’s accusation against the Judiciary has certainly brought the image of this revered institution into disrepute, and if not properly dealt with, this development has the tendency of undermining the integrity of our learned justices and eroding public confidence in the Judiciary.
The Judiciary itself, particularly, the office of the Chief Justice, must not be satisfied with the purported retraction and apology from Muntaka. It is not for nothing that the framers of our Constitution cloth the Judiciary with the power to commit for contempt, persons whose conduct lowers the dignity of the court and its justices.
To conclude, it may, indeed, rightly or wrongly, be argued that, the Ghanaian people may have lost confidence in the Legislature. It may also be argued that they may have lost confidence in the Executive. But, certainly, we cannot have this argument in relation to the Judiciary; because it is the only organ of State that is seen as the last protector of the people. If the people lose confidence in the Judiciary, then the whole society is doomed as there will be no institution of State to look up to in times of ills and injustices. This cannot be said enough, and I expect the Judiciary to once again rise to the occasion and reassure the citizenry that its credibility remains intact.