The Judicial Secretary, Mr Justice Alex Opoku-Acheampong, has confirmed that the Judiciary is facing challenges with its finances. He, however, dispelled media reports that courts across the country were not sitting due to the unavailability of funds.
“All courts across the country, except the Courts of Appeal in Kumasi, Cape Coast, Koforidua and Tamale, are sitting. This is because there are no funds to continue catering for the accommodation, per diem and other allowances of justices who are assigned to sit in those regions,” Mr Justice Opoku-Acheampong stated.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Judicial Secretary explained that the Judicial Service was relying on the constitutionally approved 15 per cent of its internally generated funds which, he said was inadequate.
According to him, the service had since October 2013 relied on its internally generated funds to run operations at the service and it was in May 2014 that the government released GH¢8.1 million to cater for salaries and other allowances for workers.
Assuring the public and litigants that the closure of the Courts of Appeal in the four regions was a temporary measure, Mr Justice Opoku-Acheampong said that it was likely that the court would resume sitting in October 2014.
The legal vacation starts in July 2014 and ends in September 2014. The first week of October 2014 will mark the beginning of the new legal year.
According to him, the Judicial Service was expecting the government to release GH¢6.9 million to enable the service to meet its operational cost, including reopening of the Court of Appeal in the four regions and purchasing of stationery, among others.
He explained that the service was operating on limited resources, and, therefore, appealed to the public to bear with it.
From Cape Coast, Zadok Kwame Gyesi reports that the Appeals Court in Cape Coast is not sitting and a member of staff of the court who pleaded anonymity said the court had been moved to Accra.
The Cape Coast Court of Appeal, which served both the Central and Western regions, has been closed down due to accommodation challenges for judges.
Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu reports from Sekondi/Takoradi that a court official said that there was no residential facility for the judges compelling them to lodge in hotels.
A. Kofoya-Tetteh reports from Koforidua that the Court of Appeal has not been sitting since February, this year.
On the court premises last Friday, some lawyers explained that the problem arose because of the delay in releasing funds for the Judicial Service to carry out its functions.
All cases pending before the Court of Appeal in Kumasi have also been rescheduled for hearing in Accra, reports Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor.
This follows the inability of the Judicial Service to foot the bills of the judges who travel to the region to sit on the cases.
Consequently, the service has directed that all cases listed for hearing this month be transferred to Accra for hearing.
The Registrar of the Court of Appeal in Kumasi, Nana Broni Dei, who confirmed this, however, denied that the court had been closed down.