[Justice Delivery] is at the heart of the Law, having the Constitution serving as its cardinal compass. And there is an undisputed fact from both Economists and Legal scholars that the quality functioning of a legal system by a nation is crucial to its economic and financial ecosystem performance, and smooth progression.
Thereby, the argumentative basis of the article is to present a general and analytical perspective of the legal system functioning within the ECOWAS region of West Africa, which is made up of fifteen (15) African nations in its current state.
In the technical scanning of the Constitutional documents governing the individual members [State]; it’s easier for one to observe a trend of similarities in the contractual framing of the law among the Anglophone countries with the slightest divergence to the Francophone countries at an estimated differential of (30%). The countries, which never fall within the two major colonial blocs of influence as aforementioned, are perceived to have a very minimal influence, in the sphere of the legal and economic performance within the ECOWAS bloc.
Onwards, the author carefully argues, no matter how one may view the Office of a ‘Chief Justice’ as debatable in the crucial role it plays within a given legal system, the Office serves as a ‘High Priest’ or a ‘Governor’ of the legal system to any given Jurisdiction.
For that very reason, the promotion of separation of powers by the Constitutional laws within the ECOWAS region with emphasis on the Anglophone territories, as well as indicating the independence of the Judiciary as an arm of government, yet the same Constitutional laws are assenting to the appointment of the ‘Chief Justice’ by the President as the Head of the Executive Arm of Government, with the Legislative arm of Government serving as a vetting and approval Institution is non sequitur to the doctrine of separation of powers as upheld by the Constitution. This stylish promoted legal exercise in a genuine scenario renders the services of the Judiciary to be more political in a given constraint of circumstances. And thereby questions the integrity of the Judiciary in the line of duty, especially in a circumstance the Executive has questionable credentials in the management of [State] Affairs and seeks the law to validate their misdeeds at the detriment of the people to whom the sovereignty of the constitution resides.
The author further argues, when the credence and competency of a ‘Chief Justice’ appointed politically are questionable, there is a miscarriage of [Justice] delivery in all the ranks and file of the legal system in favour of political interest. Hence, a true dispensation of democracy as advocated by the constitutional laws within the ECOWAS region as doctrine, makes it an unpardonable error to allow the President as the Executive Head of government to appoint the ‘Chief Justice’ with approval by the legislative arm of government per current practice.
The author submits herein, the appropriate procedure and the logic in conformity to the doctrine of separation of power by the Constitution, thus depends on a statutory and constituted Judicial Council established for the [State], which serves as a legislative body to vet their ‘kind’ under established rules and voting methods among the ‘Law society’ of a given jurisdiction, which comprises of Judges of all rankings, professional lawyers, and paralegal services providers, to establish an electoral college to choose a ‘Chief Justice’ among candidates presented to them by the Judicial Council after the applied candidates have met the competency criteria, and rigorously vetted under soundness of character, with a track record of quality professional performance. Then, the Law society by secret votes will elect the best choice of the candidate among the list of candidates presented to them by the Council, upon which the ‘Acting’ Chairperson to the Judicial Council, will further present this ideal candidate to the President, who serves as the head of the Executive arm of Government for approbation, pursuant to the constitutional law.
In accordance to the above recommendation towards the procedural approach in selecting a qualified ‘Chief Justice’ to serve the [State], will effect positively in credence and competency of the Judges serving in the various ranking Courts from the Upper, as in the Supreme Court to the lower as in the Regional Tribunals. And such a fervent approach has the ability to instill the quality of performance appraisal of Judges at the lower court of Judicature, prior to promotion to the Higher Court. And the reason is, there are sufficient evidences that attest to the miscarriage of Justices at the lower court as compared to the Higher Court of Judicature because the nature of cases profiled, as well as the kind of victims summoned to such courts with most having lack of resource to hire a defense counsel, as well as low supervision from the office of the Chief Justice to this lower court and tribunals breed an abuse of Judicial power in most circumstances.
Emmanuel TWENEBOAH SENZU, D.B.A, Ph.D., J.D., is a professor of Law, Economics and Finance. Serving at Njala University, Kenema University, and Lunsar in the Republic of Sierra Leone. West Africa. He is a distinguished fellow of West Africa Monetary Institute, HQ-based in Ghana.