On The Issue Of Ama Governor: The Law And The Facts
This decision is an interim measure that the GLC as an administrative body assisting it to make a determination of the complaint. In this regard, it is incorrect for one to suggest that has concluded or determined the Petition in favor of the Complainant or otherwise.
In the past few days, social media has been raging with emotions, anger, and negative reactions directed at the General Legal Council relative to its decision to suspend the call to the bar of Madam Elorm Ababio aka Ms. Ama Governor pending investigations into a complaint filed by one Hajia Siduri.
The complaint which is dated October 30, 2022, chronicled various misconducts of Ms. Ama Governor on social media. The complainant alleges such misconducts relative to Ama’s public comments and publications on social media which she deems a breach of the Code of Conduct for students of the Ghana School of Law and thus amounting to her lack of good character to becoming a lawyer.
Additionally, the complainant makes reference to a video published on Ama’s YouTube channel titled: “Do Law students sleep in class?” which she submits damages the reputation of the lecturers. More to this also is the fact that Ama is alleged to be in the habit of having sex with other females and cites a publication by Opera News about a year ago titled “ Ama Governor, A Popular You tuber Has Detailed Her First Time Doing It with A 30-Year-old Woman.’ The complainant thus deems these conducts of Ama Governor also as falling short of the Good Conduct expected of a law student thereby putting a dent in the integrity of the legal profession in Ghana.
Upon receipt of the complaint, the General Legal Council in a letter dated November 3, 2022, wrote to Elorm Ababio in which it announced that it has constituted a three-member Committee to look into the complaint and thus suspended their decision to call her to the Bar pending the outcome of the investigation.
This decision is an interim measure that the GLC as an administrative body has made as it looks into the matter and make a determination of the complaint. In this regard, it is incorrect for one to suggest that the GLC has concluded or determined the Petition in favor of the Complainant or otherwise.
What appears to have fueled this brouhaha is the wrong impression that the lady in question, after passing all her papers, is being denied the call by the system because of activities on her social media.
However, it is important to mention that the Ghana School of Law, in publishing the list of people who have passed their exams indicated on it as follows: “PROVISIONAL LIST OF PROFESSIONAL LAW COURSE AND POST CALL COURSE STUDENTS TO BE PRESENTED TO THE GENERAL LEGAL COUNCIL FOR CONSIDERATION FOR APPROVAL FOR THE 2022 ENROLMENT (MAIN CALL) AS AT 4TH NOVEMBER 2022 @ 1 PM.” They further stated on each page of the past list the following disclaimer:
NB: *** Students are to note that the inclusion of a student’s name in the list is not a conclusive and final confirmation of their eligibility for enrolment. The list is subject to change based on further confirmation and resolution of discrepancies by the Records and Accounts Office and above all approval by the General Legal Council .”
This important information has been lost on people in discussing the issues stated therein. In simple terms, all the students who passed their papers were informed that the Pass List was provisional and was not conclusive and final and it was subject to approval by the General Legal Council. Thus your name appearing on the Pass List is not an automatic call and the same was known by all.
One thing that the numerous emotions and insults have failed to consider also is the fact Ama’s issue is just a complaint made to an Administrative Body like the General Legal Council, and as serious as it may be, could not sweep it under the carpet without looking into its merit. Furthermore passing one’s papers at Law School is not the only requirement to be called to the Ghanaian Bar.
In addition, one’s “Good Character” is at the heart of the law relating to one becoming a lawyer in Ghana and also maintaining his/her status as such. The question that people have asked is by whose standard would one determine good character? The Section below expressly states that the entity that must be satisfied on one’s “good character” is the General Legal Council.
Section 3 of the LEGAL PROFESSION ACT, of 1960 (ACT 32) has provisions on this matter:
“S.3 – Qualifications For Enrollment
(1) A person is qualified for enrolment if that person satisfies the Council in respect of
(a) good character, and
(b) the holding of a qualifying certificate granted under section 13 by the Council.”
By the clear language of the law, the student or a person has the burden to satisfy the Council that he/she is of “good character.” Upon such demonstration, the law further goes ahead to state that the Council must be satisfied with the demonstration of this good character. The Law further states in Section 3(2) as follows:
“(2) A person may be enrolled by the Council if the Council is satisfied
(a) as to the good character of that person,
(b) as to the qualification to practice in a country having a sufficiently analogous system of
law and that the qualifications render that person suitable for enrolment, and
(c) that the conditions prescribed by the Council in respect of the status or proficiency,
have been complied with by that person.
(3) A citizen is qualified for enrolment if the citizen satisfies the Council that the citizen
(a) is of good character, and
(b) is qualified to practice law in a country having a sufficiently analogous system of law.”
This position is further affirmed by Regulation 21( C) of the LEGAL PROFESSION (PROFESSIONAL AND POST CALL LAW COURSES) REGULATIONS, 2018(LI 2355) which states;
“CALL TO THE BAR
A student of the School qualifies to be called to the Bar if that student has;
(a) passed the Qualifying Certificate Examination in the required subjects;
(b)completed the internship program and obtained a satisfactory internship report; and
( c) satisfied the Council that the student is of good character.”
In summary, for a student to be called to the Bar in Ghana he must satisfy a three tier requirements: pass your exams, complete an internship, and satisfy the Council that you are of good character. One may read the case of Emmanuel Ashalley Ashley v The Judicial Council, The General Legal Council DLSC2456 for further explanation of this law.
It is therefore unfortunate for people to argue without paying attention to the third requirement of the law. If well-meaning Ghanaians are of the view that this requirement should be repealed then so be it but we cannot push the Council to ignore the law.
This requirement of the law is not exclusive to lawyers in Ghana. All over the world “good character” is a requirement for anyone aspiring to become a lawyer. In some jurisdictions, it is part of the “fit and proper” test. A google search of the same would reveal this fact.
Furthermore “good character” requirement is not the sole preserve of the legal profession. It appears in all other professions that have similar standards. The MEDICAL AND DENTAL ACT, 1972 (NRCD 91) which is the law regulating Medical Doctors and Dentists in Ghana. Section 21 of the Law states that
“Section 21 – Standing Registers
Subject to any other provision of this Act, a person, other than a person required by this Act to be registered on a temporary register, is entitled on payment of the fee payable on registration, to be registered on the standing register as a medical or dental practitioner, if that person
(a) holds a primary qualification,
(b) is of good character,”
It is also pertinent to note that the General Legal Council has not made a final decision on the Complaint. All it has done is temporarily put on hold Ama’s Call to the Bar pending its consideration and final decision. This means that as it stands now, Ama has not permanently been barred from being called to the Bar or becoming a lawyer in Ghana.
A look into the Roll of Lawyers of Ghana shows that in the history of Call to the Bar, the GLC can even organize a call for a single person if they deem fit. The records show that Lawyer K. Botsio Junior was individually called to the bar on the 29th day of July 1977. The venerable Prof C.E. Kofi Kumado together with Prof. V.L. K. Essien were the only two individuals who were called to the bar on 2nd August 1977.
In this regard, if the GLC, dismisses such a complaint, it has the power to organize a special call for Madam Ama. Should the Council make a decision that disqualifies her from being called to the Bar, the decision of the Council can be challenged in court, and the court may reverse or set aside the said decision.
After reading and considering the laws referred to supra, the questions that we should be pondering on or channeling our energies to for solutions should be like this;
Do we still need these requirements in our various professional regulations?
Is it time for the provisions on good character especially pertaining to legal education and practice to be properly defined to reflect modern trends in line with Article 296 of the 1992 Constitution?
These certainly may be part of the reasons why people have gone haywire and emotional expeditions relative to the recent Ama Governor issue.
Let us, therefore, express our opinion having regard to the law so as not to prejudice the matters.
Source: Dennis Law