Akufo-Addo appoints Justice Torkornoo as next CJ

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated Gertrude Araba Esabaa Torkornoo, a Justice of the Supreme Court, as the next Chief Justice of Ghana.

When confirmed by Parliament, Justice Torkornoo would succeed Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, who is set to retire on May 24, 2023. Justice Anin Yeboah will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 for justices of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on May 24.

In a letter addressed to the Council of State, President Akufo-Addo said Justice Torkornoo had been on the Supreme Court for the last four years, and had served in the judiciary for the past 19 years, making her suitably qualified to perform the duties of Chief Justice.

Women in leadership

Justice Torkornoo becomes the third female to occupy the high office of Chief Justice after Georgina Theodora Wood and Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo JJSC. All three were appointed by New Patriotic Party (NPP) governments.

Justice Wood was appointed by President John Agyekum Kufuor, and served from June 2007 to June 2017, while Justice Akuffo was appointed by President Akufo-Addo, and served from June 2017 to December 2019.

The nomination may be seen as a reflection of President Akufo-Addo’s role as the UN Co-Chair of Eminent Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union’s Champion on Gender and Development Issues. Goal 5 of the SDGs aims at, among other things, ensuring that at least 30 per cent of top management positions will be occupied by women by 2030.

Justice Torkornoo

Her Ladyship Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo was born on 11 September 1962 in Cape Coast and hails from Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana. Born to Abraham Kofi Sackey and Comfort Aba Sackey who were both teachers at the time, she is the second of five siblings.

She had her secondary education at Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast where she obtained her GCE Ordinary Level Certificate. She then attended Achimota School for the Advanced Level Certificate. She studied Law & Sociology for her first degree at the University of Ghana and completed the Professional course in law at the Ghana School of Law in 1986. She holds an LLM in Intellectual Property Law from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, USA and a Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) in International Law and Organizations from the then International Institute of Social Studies, the Hague, Netherlands.

After law school in 1986, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo did her national service with the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Legal Aid Center in Accra. After 18 years of law practice, Justice Torkornoo joined the judiciary in 2004 as a Justice of the High Court of Ghana. In October 2012, she was promoted to the Court of Appeal and rose to become a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2019.

She is well known for being one of the Supreme Court judges who presided over the 2020 presidential petition case between John Dramani Mahama and the Electoral Commission and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

She has also made significant contributions to legal knowledge through some of her non-judicial writings including ‘Creating Capital from Culture’; ‘An Uneasy Marriage – the relationship between interest rate regimes and debt recovery rates in Ghana (2012), ‘Examining the Borrowers and Lenders Act’ (2015), and ‘The Law on Interests’ (2021).

Justice Torkornoo has held several leadership positions in the judiciary, including chair of the Editorial Committee of Association of Magistrates and Judges, chief editor for the development of the Judicial Ethics Training Manual, vice-chair of the E-Justice Steering/Oversight Committee, and vice-chair of the Internship and Clerkship Programme for the Judiciary. She is currently the chair of the E-Justice Steering/Oversight Committee. She is also a faculty member of the Judicial Training Institute and a member of the governing Board of the Judicial Training Institute. She is a regular speaker on different platforms addressing issues on law, leadership and judicial ethics.

Outside of the courtroom, Justice Torkornoo is a poet and the author of two anthologies – The Child and The Rainbow, and The Wise Still Hear the Birds, and several plays. She is a staunch Christian and an ardent minister with the International Central Gospel Church. She also serves on the Governing Council of the Central University.


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