Relocate Courthouses or Face Shut Down -Judiciary Warns MMDAs

The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, has warned Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, that the Judiciary may be forced to shut down courthouses sharing facilities with other organizations should they fail to relocate them to purpose-built structures within stipulated times.

“Courthouses must be stand-alone structures that are well built and fenced to demarcate them from the surrounding neighbourhood. In this regard, I also want to emphasize that courts housed in premises shared with other organizations and institutions are totally unacceptable and I have had to stress to other Assemblies elsewhere that short of relocation to more purpose-built accommodation with stipulated times, the offending courts will have to be shut down,” she said.

The Chief Justice was speaking at the inauguration of a Court Complex in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality, which houses a High Court as well as Circuit and District Courts.

Justice Sophia Akuffo reminded District Assemblies of their constitutional mandate to provide residential accommodation for Judges and Magistrates which she stressed must also be ‘stand alone’.

She also urged the public to report Judicial Officers who misconduct themselves, whiles reminding staff to exhibit the highest levels of professionalism in the discharge of their duties.

“Additionally, I seize this opportunity to remind our staff that many clients who patronize our services are often physically and or emotionally abused. They need understanding and ethical assistance in their pursuit of justice. Harassment in all its various manifestations, including threats and financial extortion are most reprehensible and any member of staff who is caught in any offensive conduct will be dealt with drastically. I therefore urge the public to stand firm and refuse to give in to any unlawful demands of judicial officers and staff. Do not be afraid to report such people to the Magistrate, Judge, the Judicial Secretary or my office for appropriate disciplinary action to be taken against them, and be bold to participate in any follow-up actions by the Service”, she said.

The Chief Justice further commended the Municipality for providing its people with a Court Complex and thus bringing justice to their doorsteps. She pledged the support of the Judicial Service in maintaining the facility, and hoped it would be put to good use.

For his part, the Supervising High Court Judge for the Eastern Region, His Lordship Justice James B. Benson, appealed to the Assembly not to expect any favours from the Judiciary as a “reward” for the building.

“Do not expect justice to be in your favour because you have provided us with a building. If you are not satisfied with a judgment, go on appeal”, he said.

The Municipal Chief Executive of Nsawam Adoagyiri, Isaac Kwadjo Buabeng in his remarks appealed to the Chief Justice to provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services at the new Court to accelerate the adjudication of cases and foster social harmony among the inhabitants of the municipality.

The people of the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality could not hide their joy about the facility because to them, ‘the new Court Complex curtails the inconvenience of travelling to the Eastern regional capital, Koforidua to access justice.’ 

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