Thursday, April 18, 2013
As we inch gradually toward April 23 for the first hearing of Justice Kpegah’s suit of impersonation against Akufo-Addo, opinions remain divided on the substance of the suit.
Akufo-Addo, his lawyers, and followers are optimistic that the suit will be dismissed outright because it lacks substance. On the other hand, those critical of Akufo-Addo’s professional stature think that he has questions to answer and will be disappointed if the case doesn’t go the whole hog for them to know who and what exactly Akufo-Addo is.
These critics of Akufo-Addo remain unconvinced of his calling and repeatedly say that he is not a qualified lawyer just because they haven’t been told where he had his training in law. Not even the confirmation of the listing of William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as being called to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple will make them change their minds.
They may be right because there are questions on pupillage and other requirements for one to be certified as a lawyer, even after having being called into the Middle Temple. Such questions haven’t yet been answered.
They claim that the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo they know is not the same as the William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the record books. These people seem poised to see the case heard to its logical conclusion. And they are those likely to sustain the image-denting propaganda against Akufo-Addo.
Within that context, it is only when the case is heard fully and documentary evidence (especially his qualifying and enrolment certificates) adduced by Akufo-Addo to confirm his claims that the situation will change for the better for him.
Thus, any dismissal of the case on the basis of legal technicalities will give Akufo-Addo only a Pyrrhic victory that won’t solve the problems created by all these allegations splashed on him perennially.
On the surface, this victory will give him some bragging rights as a successful lawyer who can defend others and himself successfully. Definitely, he will quickly thump his chest for adding another feather to his legal cap.
After all, his main legal arguments on the motion he filed for the case to be struck out underscore his assertion that the action is “frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of the Court’s process, and disclosing no reasonable cause of action upon the grounds contained in the accompanying affidavit and for any further order(s) as to this Court may seem meet.”
Additionally, he argued in paragraph 22 of his affidavit in support of his motion that “as the Plaintiff’s action questions the status of a lawyer, by the combined effect of Sections 1, 2, 3, 7 and 16A of the Legal Profession Act, 1961 (Act 32), Plaintiff’s action is not in the proper forum since the power to determine matters bordering on the status and qualifications of lawyers, professional misconduct and whether a person ought to be struck out from the roll of Lawyers is vested in the General Legal Council.”
Clearly, we can see the legal technicalities on full display here. But there is more to the issue beyond these technicalities.
Akufo-Addo’s response covered essential and substantial aspects of interest to us, namely, his admission that he is indeed William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, though he has “always been known as Nana Addo Dankwa-Akufo-Addo, and have as a matter of fact, constantly been referred to in all my professional life as Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo” (paragraph 10).
Curiously, we see a peculiarity here in the surname, which is “Dankwa-Akufo-Addo” (three names constituting his surname?), not the known compound name “Akufo-Addo”. This is Akufo-Addo’s own writing of his name!
A typographical error in the addition of the “Dankwa” to this compound name or are we being given a new name? Who knows? In this legal suit where name is a crucial element, anything peculiar will raise a red flag and draw attention to itself.
His firm admission is that “Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo are one and the same person” (paragraph 11).
Akufo-Addo also touched on his professional background, saying “I studied law in England and was consequently duly and specially admitted to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (one of the four (4) Inns of Court in England) on 13th January, 1969 as William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo” (paragraph 12).
This part is still of interest because he didn’t mention the particular institution in which he “studied law in England”. Of course, one of the concerns of his detractors has to do with the particular institution at which he studied law, not necessarily the fact that he was called to the “Utter Bar of the Middle Temple” on July 22, 1971.
So, if this part of his response still leaves out the vital information, I don’t think that his detractors will be satisfied as he will be that his motion for the case to be struck out would be upheld for him to celebrate as a victory over Justice Kpegah.
Another element in the saga is Akufo-Addo’s being called to the Ghana Bar, especially within the context of the NOTE that E. Bart-Plange Brew signed for him, dated Tuesday, October 16, 2007. That NOTE makes it categorically clear that Akufo-Addo had claimed that he lost his qualifying and enrolment certificates.
Thus, his detractors would quickly ask: If it was this same General Legal Council that issued him with the certificate on July 8, 1975, what happened on) October 16, 2007 for the same general Legal Council to give him a NOTE as an affirmation of his enrolment into the Council instead of issuing him with a duplicate certificate (assuming that he had even reported the loss of his qualifying and enrolment certificate to the Council before October 16, 2007)?
Against this background, Akufo-Addo’s response in paragraph 15 that “on returning to Ghana, I undertook the post-call law programme required of lawyers who have qualified abroad and after passing the relevant examination, I was duly called to the Ghana Bar on 8th July, 1975 as as William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo” doesn’t assuage doubts.
Another area that is interesting is paragraph 17 of his response, where he says that “for the almost forty years of my law practice in Ghana, I have practiced in all the Courts of Ghana and appeared before judges of the Superior Courts, including Plaintiff himself (that is, Justice Kpegah), as Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. This has never raised any question of impersonation.”
Interesting, intriguing, compelling, isn’t it?
Now, Justice Kpegah has sued him for impersonation, which suggests that unless the case is pursued for evidence to be adduced and substantiated or debunked and neutralized, the mere striking out of the case won’t persuade the Akufo-Addo detractors that he doesn’t have any skeleton in his cupboard.
To me, then, it will be in Akufo-Addo’s own interest for the case to be heard fully so that the incontrovertible evidence he has can be used to clean the minds of the millions who have bought into the image-denting campaigns that have negatively affected his stature.
Indeed, Akufo-Addo’s professional accomplishments are striking, and he should be bold enough to do and say what will shame his detractors. Then, he will be accorded the genuine respect he deserves even as he pursues the thread to achieve his political ambitions. Anything short of that won’t help him.
Of course, we note that his unrelenting attempt to have over 4 million votes annulled by the 9 judges at the Supreme Court for him to be declared the winner of Election 2012 has added a different complexion to his public image. Everything seems to be an affront to his integrity whether politically or professionally, which calls for a decisive effort by him to use this suit as a trump-card to re-position himself in the public sphere.
Those supporting him and claiming that he has no image problem and should be left alone can continue to tickle him, even as his political sun dips across the skyline above the Supreme Court building toward setting.
In the next opinion piece, we will touch on the claim that Akufo-Addo had been called to the English Bar. There are new aspects that should be known to sustain the conversation. As for me, I am just an outsider peeping in to see how the tide flows. And I will report that ebb and flow, regardless of whose ox is gored.
I shall return…
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