The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated his belief in the fact that the noblest chapters in the modern history of the Ghanaian people, so far, have been written by lawyers.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the writing was begun by Ghana’s first lawyer, “the immortal John Mensah Sarbah”, who, together with Joseph Casely-Hayford, another lawyer, and their other colleagues in the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS), warded off “the greedy hands of British imperialism”, and kept control of the country’s lands.
This, he said, was the first monumental step towards the making of modern Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo noted further that one has only to reflect on the complicated land inheritance that the countries of Southern and Eastern Africa endured to acknowledge the importance of the ARPS’ contribution to the growth of Ghana.
The President made this known on Monday, September, 11, 2017, when he delivered his remarks at the National Conference of the Ghana Bar Association, in Sunyani
Further chapters, the President indicated, were written by the likes of Thomas Hutton-Mills, Kobbina Sekyi, Kojo Thompson, Akilakpa Sawyerr, all lawyers, who maintained the momentum of nationalist agitation initiated by the ARPS.
In 1948, when that agitation reached new, unprecedented heights, with the killings by the colonial police of the three ex-servicemen, Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, and Private Odartey Lamptey, President Akufo-Addo noted that of the six persons, “Big Six”, who were arrested and fixed with responsibility by the colonial power for that development, four of them – Joseph Boakye Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, Edward Akufo-Addo – were lawyers.
“One, William Ofori-Atta, a decade later, subsequently became a lawyer; and the sixth, Kwame Nkrumah, Osagyefo, was apparently prevented by the arcane mysteries of Roman law from becoming a lawyer. So, as you can see, the responsibility of lawyers for setting our country on the road to freedom and national independence was great,” he added.
Succeeding generations of lawyers, the President stressed, have remained committed to the goal of securing not only the independence of Ghana, but also the establishment of the body politic of the country on the foundation of respect for the rule of law, individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability, values whose promotion are at the core of the Bar Association’s historic mission.
“I refer here to the work of lawyers like Kuranchi Taylor, Akua Asabea, Joe Appiah, Victor Owusu, B.J. da Rocha, J.E. Jantuah, F.A. Jantuah, Johnny Hansen, Obed Asamoah, Ray Kakraba Quarshie, Anthony Mmieh and Obeng Manu Snr.
In more immediate times, lawyers have been at the forefront of the struggle against authoritarian rule. Peter Ala Adjetey, Sam Okudzeto, Nutifafa Kuenyehia, Akoto Ampaw, all members of this Association, were prepared to suffer the deprivation of preventive detention in defence of liberty and accountability in our nation,” he said.
The President continued, “They join the others in the pantheon of Ghanaian patriots who devoted themselves, in the face of great odds, to freedom and justice. And who can forget the collective, heroic determination of the Bar in the 1970s and 1980s to bring an end to the era of military rule and help engineer the restoration of democratic, constitutional governance to our country. Future historians will look kindly on the activities of the Bar, and speak of them with commendation.”