Former Greater Accra President of the Ghana Bar Association Frank Davies says the tendency of lawyers to publicly disagree with positions taken by the Bar Association is contributing to the impression that the GBA has lost a once powerful clout.
Dissenting lawyers, he says, are making it “very, very difficult” for the GBA to maintain a united position on national issues.
His comments followed a public lamentation by Supreme Court Judge, Justice William Atuguba who believes the Ghana Bar Association has become toothless.
“The glorious days of the Bar Association which stood up consistently and strongly for the rule of law, today the same cannot be too readily said. There is widespread perception that party politics has eaten deep into its ranks and clouded its potent militancy,” he asserted.
He recalled how the GBA fought against the military rule under I.K Acheampong in the 70s and its record of speaking out against human rights abuses in the past.
“It appears to be moved to speak out on important national issues from the slant of political party colouration”, he told law students at the 42nd week celebration of the University of Ghana School Law.
Although Frank Davies disagreed with the judge, he admitted that the perception may be fueled by the manner in which lawyers engage the GBA whenever the Association speaks out.
He says even after lawyers meet and take a position, the “same lawyers within our group get up and comment”.
Nonetheless, the GBA speaks on “technical issues”.
Abraham Amaliba who is not a member of the Association is backing the comments made by Justice William Atuguba.
Amaliba who has had occasion to disagree with a GBA position, says in the past the name of the GBA president was common knowledge among ordinary Ghanaians. Today “nobody even knows the name of the GBA president”, he said.
Amaliba in 2014 criticized the GBA for what he believes was a “highly unnecessary” GBA call on President Mahama to appoint an impartial E.C Chairman in the near future when the incumbent retires in June.
In the statement, the lawyers said they “strongly encourage President [John Mahama] to seize the opportunity for the appointment of a new chairman of EC to boost image and credibility of the Electoral Commission before 2016 elections.”
Amaliba believes the GBA “goofed big time” because with one year for Afari Gyan to go, the Bar Association could have exercised some restraint.