Story: Today Correspondent
The former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo says her decision to join the protest against the inclusion of pensioners in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) is not political.
The Today Newspaper sought an exclusive interview with Justice Akuffo to get additional facts behind the headlines. Our editorial policy of independence required that we dig below the surface to bring greater enlightenment to our numerous readers who have come to know our newspaper for its overarching credibility. Our non- partisan approach moved us to seek out this national figure.
When asked why she chose to join the picketing at the Ministry of Finance although she is not directly affected by the DDEP, the former Chief Justice said that although she is not affected by the programme, she took that decision as a Ghanaian to join the pensioners last Friday to oppose it.
“Why are people surprised that I joined the pensioners? Am I not also a Ghanaian? Or is it because of my former position? Before I became Chief Justice i was Ghanaian first so why the noise?”, she quizzed.
On Friday, February, 10, 2023, the former Chief Justice joined a group of pensioners to picket at the Ministry of Finance. She described the move by the government as sheer wickedness and outright disrespect to the elderly who have sacrificed their lives for the development of the nation. She also called on the government to be transparent and account to Ghanaians what led to the current economic crisis and what all the loans were used for.
Since then, many Ghanaians have wondered what might have been the reason for someone who once held the Chief Justice position, a critical one in government to have to speak truth as she has felt it to power.
When asked about it, she noted in the interview that the suffering she has observed is unbearable for Ghanaians hence her decision to speak on the issue. She pointed out that the 1992 Constitution guarantees freedom of speech “so there is nothing wrong if people speak their minds on national issues like the economy”.
To this end, Madam Sophia Akuffo urged Ghanaians to always come out and express their sentiments if they feel unhappy about certain government decisions.
But she cautioned that “what I will not encourage is taking the law into your own hands because you don’t want certain government’s policies but to let your voice be heard on national issues. The constitution permits that”. When asked if she knew her comments would attract public attention and also make the government uncomfortable, she answered in affirmative but was quick to say she was not bothered.
When this reporter again tried to find out from her if she spoke to some key elements in government particularly, the finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta before her statement, she said it was needless.
According to her, before she even came out to voice out her concerns, many Ghanaians including some appointees of the government had expressed same.
“I did a lot of work with the President in the past before my appointment as Chief Justice. I also have a lot of friends and relatives in the current administration but I am not a card bearing member of the NPP”, she disclosed this to Today.
However, she said, she has been an admirer of President Akufo-Addo and the NPP tradition considering how the Fourth Republican constitution came into being.
The former Chief Justice stressed that she meant everything she said on that day, noting that “the time has come for public officers to be held accountable”.
She was hopeful and optimistic that her involvement in the protest would be a wakeup call for the government to respect the rights of the citizens.