Home / GENERAL NEWS / Opoku-Agyemang breaks silence on controversy about his Appeal Court judge nomination

Opoku-Agyemang breaks silence on controversy about his Appeal Court judge nomination

Former Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang for the first time has spoken about his nomination as a judge of the Appeal Court and the controversy the nomination has generated.

The Attorney General, in a recent list submitted to the president, recommended some 11 individuals, including Mr Opoku-Agyemang, for appointment as judges of the Court of Appeal.

Mr Opoku-Agyemang’s nomination, however, has generated controversy with some persons challenging his suitability as a judge.

But addressing the issue in a statement, the former Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law stated that he is yet to officially receive any notice of his nomination as well as the various petitions against same.

Musician and activist, Kwame Asare Obeng, also known as A Plus, recently filed a writ at the Supreme Court demanding, among other reliefs, a declaration that Mr Opoku-Agyemang does not meet the constitutionally required threshold for his appointment.

The activist, among other things, alluded to an alleged admission of 10 unqualified students into the Ghana School of Law under the leadership of Mr Opoku-Agyemang in support of his suit.

But the former Acting Director General in his statement noted that the admission of the 10 students made on concessionary grounds was without any personal or pecuniary interest but in the best interest of the School.

“I must emphasize that in all my dealings in public, no one can accuse me of corrupt acts or rendering services for unlawful gain. As the Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law, I performed my task diligently and sought at all times to change the face of professional legal education. As already indicated, the admission of 10 additional students on concessionary basis to the 1,045 students admitted for the 2020/2021 academic year was not done for any personal or pecuniary gain. There were no underhand dealings, as all the requests for admissions were considered officially. I must stress and without sounding boastful that I performed very creditably in just one year as an Acting Director,” he stated.

Read the full statement below:

BRIEF RESPONSE TO THE MEDIA DISCUSSION ON PURPORTED NOMINATION TO THE COURT OF APPEAL

My attention has been drawn to various media publications and discussion on my suitability or otherwise to be recommended for an appointment as a Court of Appeal Judge. The basis for these discussions is the alleged unlawful admission of 10 students into the Ghana School of Law. For the records I have not been officially notified or contacted about nomination for appointment to the Court of Appeal, neither have I been served with any court process or copies of the multiple petitions circulating on social media.

The Facts

I was appointed as an Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law in June 2020. Prior to this appointment, I have worked as a Senior Lecturer of the School from 1998. As it is widely known, the General Legal Council introduced Entrance Examinations for entry into the Ghana School of Law from 2012 as part of the reforms for professional legal education. This policy restricted entry into the Ghana School of Law to only LL.B. holders who passed the entrance examination with a percentage of 50+. My views on these reforms are of public knowledge and therefore need not be repeated. However, it is of public knowledge that I have been against the said restrictions and have always advocated for the opening of more opportunities for LL.B. holders to achieve their heart’s desires. Apart from the restrictive nature of admissions to the School, the Council also operated “a zero-concession admission policy” which meant that no concession whatsoever was extended to the wards of key stakeholders, including members of staff and faculty. As a matter of fact, this policy was used to deny, not only my ward but wards of other lecturers and staff, admission to the School after obtaining scores ranging from 46 to 49 percent. I considered this policy as unfair especially on my part after 23 years of dedicated service to the School. Upon assumption of office, and considering my long-held views on the admission policy, I submitted two policy proposals for consideration namely, Concessionary Admission Policy and Full Fee-Paying Policy. The Concessionary Admission Policy was to offer concessionary admissions to wards of faculty, staff and other key stakeholders without compromising the meritorious admission system. The Full Fee-Paying System was meant to stem the tide of Ghanaian students travelling to other jurisdictions, notably the Gambia to pursue professional legal education. It was meant to reduce the cut off point for those desirable and ready to pay the full cost of the education as is done in all public universities for their sought after programmes. For instance, in the 2021/2022 academic year, 330 Ghanaians applied to enter the Gambia School of Law paying $100 as application fees. Out of the number, only 55 were admitted paying almost $10,000 as School fees for one year. Apart from saving our compatriots the hassle in travelling to other countries, the policy was also to be used to generate revenue for expansion of infrastructure to admit more students at the Ghana School of Law.

Admission of 10 students

In the 2020/2021 academic year, I managed to convince the General Legal Council to admit all students who scored 50 percent and above. This culminated in the admission of 1,045 students. The admission of this number of students led to the introduction of the innovative triple track system of classes which created the potential to admit almost 1,100 students. In addition to the 1,045 students, the school offered concessionary admission to 10 students upon request from key stakeholders who have contributed immensely to the school and the nation as a whole. This brought the total admission to 1055, compared to the 450 admitted in 2018/2019 and the 128 students admitted in 2017/2018 academic year. Admittedly, the offer of the 10 concessionary admissions was made without the approval of the General Legal Council but was not done in secrecy. The issue was brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the Examinations Committee. Other key members of the Council were also aware due to discussions on the issue prior to the admissions. These admissions were offered without any ill-motive or for any personal gain but in the interest of the Ghana School of Law. Indeed, it should be made known that one offer of admission paved the way for the release of an entire building at KNUST which serves as the Kumasi Campus of the Law School. This enabled the School to increase the intake in Kumasi from 50 to over 200 as well as securing places for a library, staff common room, administration facility and a canteen for the students. I must stress all the decisions taken in my one year as Acting Director were in the best interest of the School and students.

In fact, in addition to the admission of the 1,055 students, I was also instrumental in securing the approval of the Council to introduce a Transitional Law Course Programme which paved the way for over 274 students to be allowed to re-enter the School to finish their one-year programme. These were students who were caught by the reversal of professional law to two years without any transition period for repeating students. The New Transitional Law Programme enabled the affected students to continue with the one-year programme for three years after which they would be withdrawn. All these were done to offer opportunities to enter the Ghana School of Law. This has been my avowed aim for the over 23 years that I have served the school.

General Legal Council Investigations Committee

The General Legal Council on or about July 2021 established a 3-member committee to investigate allegations of admission of non-LLB holders to the Ghana School of Law; admission of students who did not write the entrance examinations; the payment of monies for admission to the Law School and other issues. The Committee found all the reportage as false except the admission of the 10 students on concessionary basis. The Committee found as a fact that all the 10 students wrote the Entrance Examination but failed to secure 50 percent or more. The Committee found as a fact that the said admissions were done without the approval of the General Legal Council. The Committee therefore concluded that the said admissions were irregular. The General Legal Council accepted the recommendations of the Council that those 10 students admitted without approval of the Council based on my proposed concessionary admission policy be withdrawn from the School. The students have been duly withdrawn. Further, the Council has set up a three-member Disciplinary Committee to conduct disciplinary hearings against myself, the Registrar and the Deputy Registrar of the School on charges of insubordination and acting improperly in our office contrary to the provisions of the Public Service Policy and Framework Manual for Public Servants. The Disciplinary Committee is yet to commence its proceedings let alone pronounce any sanctions.

My Public Record

As stated earlier, I have served the Ghana School of Law for over 23 years. My passion and commitment to legal education is known by all, especially thousands of students who have passed through my hands. In all my public life I have stood firmly on principles I believe in to the displeasure of some segments of society, which to me is normal. I must emphasize that in all my dealings in public no one can accuse me of corrupt acts or rendering services for unlawful gain. As the Acting Director of the Ghana School of Law, I performed my task diligently and sought at all times to change the face of professional legal education. As already indicated, the admission of 10 additional students on concessionary basis to the 1,045 students admitted for the 2020/2021 academic year was not done for any personal or pecuniary gain. There were no underhand dealings, as all the requests for admissions were considered officially. I must stress and without sounding boastful that I performed very creditably in just one year as an Acting Director. Short as the period may seem, I was able to facilitate the following projects at the school:

• Securing a 47-seater bus from the office of the Vice President for the School

• Purchase of 57-seater modern Marco Polo bus from the IGF of the School

• Purchase of Nissan Urvan Mini bus in collaboration with the SRC of the School

• Procurement of Landcruiser Prado for the Office of the Director from the IGF

• Procurement of Toyota Fortuner for the office of the Registrar from the IGF

• Procurement of Toyota Corrolla for the office of the Deputy Registrar from the
IGF

• Securing the entire ICIL Building at KNUST rent free for the Kumasi Campus

• Introduction of industry specific short courses to generate revenue for the School

• Mobilising over Eight Hundred Thousand Ghana Cedis {GHȻ800,000}from alumni and corporate sponsors

• Admitting over 1,000 students and introducing the triple track class system in the 2020/2021 academic year

• Introduction of the New Transitional Law Programme for almost 300 repeating students

• Ensuring the Call to the Bar of over 650 students in the midst of COVID 19

Conclusion

Much as I do not begrudge anyone who feels offended by my decision to introduce a concessionary admission policy at the Ghana School of Law, leading to the admission of 10 students without approval of the General Legal Council, it is my wish that the issue be considered dispassionately and in consideration of the service I have rendered to the Ghana School of Law. Rather than sounding repetitive, I still hold the view that denying admissions on some concessionary basis to key stakeholders of the school, such as faculty, staff and others who have contributed immensely to the School is unfair. It is my hope that the General Legal Council and the public at large will ponder over whether it is fair for a ward of a member of faculty or staff to be denied admission to the Ghana School of Law after obtaining between 47% and 49% in an entrance examination. As I have done consistently, save as I admitted the 10 students in addition to the 1,045 students for the 2020/2021 academic year without the approval of the General Legal Council, for which I apologized to the Council, same was not done for any personal or pecuniary interest but in the best interest of the School.

Thank you.

About Elvis Anokye

Check Also

Supreme Court gives AG 14 days to file statement on e-levy suit

The Supreme Court has granted the Attorney General 14 days within which to file his …

Georgina Wood, Akua Kuenyehia, Elizabeth Ohene, Sir Sam Jonah and others own state lands

The news of the degazetting of portions of the Achimota Forest Reserve through the Executive …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *