Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a letter to the Council of State dated Tuesday, 25 April 2023, nominated Her Ladyship Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo as the new Chief Justice.
This follows the retirement of Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah from the bench on 24 May 2023.
If approved, 60-year-old Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo will be the third female Chief Justice in Ghana’s fourth Republican history, after Georgina Theodora Wood (2007 – 2017) and Sophia Akuffo (2017–2019).
Her Ladyship Justice Gertrude Araba Esaaba Torkornoo is currently a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana and the supervising judge of the Commercial Courts in Ghana.
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. Her pupillage was with Fugar & Co, where she went on to become an Associate and later, a Director of the firm. In 1989, while an Associate at Fugar & Co, she won an International Bar Association scholarship in Construction Law, which led to her doing a stage with Nabarro Nathanson in London and specialising in Construction Law. In January 1997, she set up Sozo Law Consult and became the Managing Partner.
After 18 years of law practice, Justice Torkornoo was invited to join 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, the apex 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. They include the chair of the Editorial Committee of the 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.
Away from Law, 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 of the word of Christ . She also serves on the Governing Council of the Central University.
Flowing from her love and passion to promote the gospel, Justice Torkornoo established Sozo Foundation as a ministry dedicated to evangelism through the publication and distribution of tracts and other literary works. She plays a pivotal role in Aglow International and serves as a board member of Theovision International, a ministry that translates the Bible and creates audio Bibles in African languages. For several years, she has facilitated training at the Haggai Institute for Leadership Development.
By: Alexander Bombande