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Tribute to Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow - The Judicial Tribute

The Judicial Tribute

JUSTICE Koranteng-Addow: “It is provided by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (Special Courts) Decree, 1979 (A.F.R.C.D. 3), s. 2 (5) that: “It shall not be lawful for any Court to entertain any action or proceedings whatsoever for the purpose of questioning any decision, judgment, findings, order or proceedings of any Special Court convened under section 1 of this Decree;... It is also provided by section 15 (2) of the transitional provisions of the Constitution, 1979, that: “For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that no executive, legislative or judicial action taken or purported to have been taken by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council or by any person in the name of that Council shall be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever, and, accordingly it shall not be lawful for any Court or other tribunal to make any order or grant any remedy or relief in respect of any such court.” I do not think the prosecution can just dangle the transitional provisions to frighten off the court...” The background to Ex parte Shackleford is set out in abstract as follows:

FACTS: The Lloyd Shackleford, was a businessman in Accra, married to Elizabeth, who applied to the High Court for a writ or order of habeas corpus on behalf of her partner who on 8 June 1979, through radio announcement, was requested to report at the Air Force Station Burma Camp, Accra, which he did at 1.30 p.m. on that date. He was subsequently, arrested, charged and imprisoned for three years by AFRC Special Court for allegedly, selling above the control price contrary to section 3 (1) L. The warrant of his arrest dated 8 June 1979, numbered A.F.R.C. 83. The issue that arose following the proscription of AFRC regime or the Special Court was whether or not the HC had power to inquire whether Shackleford was in fact tried, convicted and sentenced by the Special Court. We mention in passing that trial considered series of constitutional matters which are not within the scope of this tribute. Our tribute is on the discussions on signature of a “judicial officer”.

At the hearing in July 1980, Koranteng-Addow J, who hinted that the matter in debate involves human rights, said: “When counsel appears before the court and simply says that this matter involves an interpretation of a provision of the Constitution... I think it is plain commonsense that sitting as a judge, I have a right to determine whether or not it is a question involving an interpretation... It is for these reasons that I refused to stay the proceedings pending the appeal....No court would turn a man with this story out of court... if the respondents produce a warrant of commitment with a return showing that the applicant has been tried, convicted, sentenced and committed, then the writ of habeas corpus will not issue, for whether the conviction is wrong or not... the court will be stripped of jurisdiction. But when the applicant says he has never been tried... and gives facts which show that it was practically impossible for him to have been tried, and the warrant of commitment is not regular on the face, then the court has to study the justification meticulously...”

It may be emphasised that this court is doing nothing that is not in accordance with the law. [p.571] If there were no dispute about the authenticity of the warrant of commitment, and it were regular on the face of it, I would concede to the submission of learned counsel, for even apart from the transitional provisions of the Constitution, 1979, and A.F.R.C.D. 3... I will also concede that where the return shows that the applicant is in execution under the judgment of a competent court, an affidavit will not be allowed to traverse these facts... Carus Wilson’s Case (1845) 115 E.R. 759, at p. 769



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