Parliament yesterday approved the nomination of Gertrude Araba Essaba Torkornoo as the Chief Justice of the country, after an intense deliberation in the House. Members from both sides took turns to debate the matter before reaching the final decision.
The Minority had already expressed their support for Justice Torkornoo at a press conference held on Tuesday.
However, the NDC representatives still raised some concerns that they hoped she would address as part of her mandate.
They particularly emphasised the party’s position on the details of the ruling that ousted James Gyakye Quayson as the Assin North MP.
The Tamale South legislator, Haruna Iddrisu, urged the Chief Justice-nominee to act fairly in the administration of justice.
He emphasised the importance of discharging her duties without fear, favour or political influence, while upholding her judicial oath.
Mr. Iddrisu also stated that Justice Araba Essaba Torkornoo’s elevation to Chief Justice was a natural progression, considering her previous positions from the High Court to the Court of Appeal.
“It is only natural that if she is chosen and recognized by the President, she will have our support. Let us all support and wish her well,” he added.
The Appointments Committee unanimously recommended her acceptance.
Chairman of the Constitutional Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Kwame Anyimadu Antwi, assured that the legal luminary would adhere to the principles of her mandate, as reaffirmed in the Appointment Committee’s report.
Portions of the report read: “The nominee showed character, competence and dexterity in the knowledge of the law. She pledged to interpret the law without fear or favor if approved as Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana.”
He however contested Mr Iddrisu’s concerns in the outcome of the Gyakye Quayson ruling by the Supreme Court.
Other MPs such as Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare of Techiman North and Ursula Owusu-Ekuful of Ablekuma West also shared good testimonies about the Chief Justice nominee.
Along the line, Minority Chief Whip Governs Kwame Agbodza called on Justice Gertrude Torkonoo to leave what he described as a better legacy than her predecessor Kwesi Anin-Yeboah in terms of justice delivery.
The Adaklu MP accused Anin Yeboah of presiding over a Supreme Court which made some bad judgments citing the Court’s decisions in the birth certificate case and the recent Gyakye Quayson case.
But Bekwau MP and First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, eulogised the outgoing Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah.
“In the last 35 years, he is the only Chief Justice that the Bar Association has formally honoured. That is a good record and that should be respected,” he added.
Subsequently, the House, led by Speaker Alban Bagbin, adopted the report.
Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo (Mrs.) joined the Judicial Service in 2004 as one of the first Justices of the Commercial Division of the High Court. She has been active in the core reform agenda and activities of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana (JSG) since 2005.
The organs through which these reforms have been implemented have included the specialized divisions of the High Court, the Judicial Training Institute, administrative committees set up to ensure the implementation of the automation and digitalization of court work and administration of JSG, the streamlining of alternative dispute settlement mechanisms in justice delivery, and communication channels between the Judiciary and its stakeholders.
The leadership roles Justice Sackey Torkornoo has played in ensuring the achievement of judicial reforms include being vice chair of the E-Justice Oversight and Implementation Committee (E-Justice OC) from its inception in 2019 and chair of the E-Justice OC since August 2021.
She has served as a member of the faculty and Governing Board of the Judicial Training Institute, vice chair of the Internship and Clerkship Committee of the Judiciary since 2012, Supervising Judge of the Commercial Division of the High Court since 2013, member and chair of the E-Judgment Committee since 2010, member and chair of the Publications and Editorial Committee of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana since 2006, and member and chair of various ad-hoc committees needed for the smooth administration of the work of JSG.
Justice Sackey Torkornoo has served as a judicial leader in the development and oversight of several reform projects of the Judiciary involving the European Union, USAID, DFID, and collaborations with other African countries. She has also been a member of the Law Reform Commission since 2016.