History is rife with men who only achieved greatness once and never tried again for a good reason. They weren’t fools, nor were they cowards. On the contrary, they were smart men who knew themselves just like Apollo’s Temple at Delphi, through his Oracle, use to tell people consulting him many years ago ‘know thyself’.
It will seem Mr. Tsikata doesn’t. I am informed he is an expert in immovable properties and use to capture his students’ attention and imagination many years ago with his lectures. It is also said those were dark periods for Ghana. Many of our lecturers had flocked to the more prosperous Nigeria. Our Universities were depleted of Staff. I recall one of my Sociology Professors at Legon, the first female HOD, recounting how she became a lecturer straight after her first degree. It was the golden age for the educated and patriotic: those who refused to go to Alata.
But in the courtrooms, Mr. Tsikata was far less impressive. Any slight departure from his area of practice of Family Law, Immovable Properties, and Customary Law appeared to be doom to failure. From the Law Reports, the Tsikata you read was a man either perpetually trying his luck on lost causes or presenting an argument that was strange to the judges. ‘Misconceived’ ‘Incompetent’ are some common words you will find in the reports when he appears. Therefore, it was not surprising when Mr. Tsikata gave up the law for a corporate office’s safety under the PNDC/NDC. He had had enough of losing.
Then came the NPP. They charged him with causing financial loss. For years on end, Mr. Tsikata’s lawyer attempted to delay the trial by questioning everything possible. From the form that had been used, which was the formed used previously by the service as noted ironically by Kpegah JSC to the Court’s very legitimacy to try the matter. The power of the Chief Justice to empanel justices was also challenged. And when Justice Affreh was added to the Bench, the most Senior Judge in Ghana at that time by years in practice save the Chief Justice, he found what he was looking for to set his flock bastardizing the Judiciary.
After his conviction, death threats were sent by his fan base to Lady Justice Helena Abban and Lady Justice Henrietta Abban. To be fair to him, they couldn’t have been instructed by him, but they show what the propaganda he likes to play can lead to. Lessons which must have been lost on him when he was connected to the murder of the three High Court Judges and Retired Army Officer by no less a person than Mr. Justice Aikins in the 2000s.
In 2013, this man benefitted from what in many ways was a show trial. It was a show trial not because it was procedurally flawed but because it was the first time people saw our courtrooms from their homes. It was like a reality show. People who had never had the benefit of attending Court were impressed by his effort to get Dr. Bawumia to concede to something other than ‘you and I were not there.’ He had a witness who was not budging, and he wasn’t budging too. While those with legal knowledge know a good cross-examination should be short and should lead the witness to answer ‘yes’ to most of your questions; it’s hard to convince those without that knowledge of this truth.
Because that is not what they see on Netflix and in Suits, and you cannot GET AWAY WITH MURDER using such a strategy.
But against what is known as the ‘rule of finality’, Mr. Tsikata pressed on even on collateral issues. At some point, even Atuguba JSC, the most generous judge towards their course, got tired. He will urge him to move on, prompting him to move on, advise him to move, and finally curtail Mr. Tsikata’s cross-examination.
President John Mahama won the case in that cause. Tsikata was saved by a 500 paged judgment which many people did not bother to read. Therefore, they did not discover it was mainly the second respondent’s cross-examination, and submission, which had swayed the Court. The trial’s length, primarily attributable to Mr. Tsikata’s style of endless and sometimes purposeless cross-examination, led to changes in our electoral law. It led us to set 42 days as the period within which the Courts will determine petitions. Mr. Tsikata lived on as a myth. People assumed his cross-examination had elicited dangerous concessions from Dr Bawumia. In the NDC’s eyes, it wasn’t the more effective Tony Lithur, and it wasn’t the EC’s lawyers either. It was the man whose principal argument was a weird contraption in law retroactive penalization. The judges did not get what it meant. He tried explaining it during the oral submissions. They all chose to ignore it in their final judgment- even those favorable to their cause.
The myth must have gotten to Mr. Tsikata. Abandoning the advice of Delphi, we see another attempt to cement the legend. And as he is resisted, we begin to see the usual signs…
Of needless interlocutories;
Soon it will be a scandalous abuse of the courts, the processes, and then individual justices. And when that which is bound to happen, happens, you can be assured; he will blame his ‘referee’ and not his craft. Because that is Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata.