Information from top sources available indicates that Justice Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi, a Ghanaian Supreme judge who was tipped to become Chief Justice lost out because of the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin.
In the search for the next Chief Justice (CJ) to replace Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, Akufo-Addo’s former legal partner, Justice Yonny Kulendi, and Justice Gertrude Torkornoo were considered the final qualified shortlist but the former lost out for allegedly being a “Northerner”.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has since announced Judge Justice Gertrude Torkornoo as the next Chief Justice of Ghana.
According to credible insiders, the main argument made to the President against the nomination of Justice Kulendi was the fact should he be nominated, for the next two years Ghana would have a northerner as Vice President, a northerner as Speaker of Parliament and another northerner as Chief Justice.
Beyond the remaining two years of the New Patriotic Party(NPP) under President Akufo-Addo, some people inside the party said a Northerner CJ may affect the chances of the Vice President in making a case for himself to be elected President.
If Akufo-Addo had named Kulendi, Akufo-Addo would have made history for naming the first CJ from any of the three, now five northern regions.
Profile of Justice Kulendi
Kulendi hails from Issa, a village in the Upper West Region of Ghana and was nominated and approved to the Supreme Court in 2020. In the formative years of his life, young Kulendi spent almost two years in the Wa prisons on remand, and this incident made him resolve all the more to be a lawyer.
He entered the University of Ghana, where he was awarded his Bachelor of laws degree in 1992. He continued at the Ghana School of Law and became a barrister-at-law in 1994.
He holds a master of arts degree in International Security and Civil-Military Relations from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, United States.
Kulendi had his national service at the Legal Aid Board of Accra. After his service, he joined the Akufo-Addo, Prempeh, and Co. Chambers, where he underwent pupillage.
He later founded his own law firm, Kulendi @ Law, where he worked as the firm’s managing partner until his appointment to the bench.
As a lawyer, his areas of expertise included; Investments, Securities, Commercial Law, Criminal Law, and Litigation.
On 17 March 2020 the president, Nana Akufo-Addo informed the Speaker of Parliament, Mike Oquaye that consultations had been completed for the nomination of Kulendi and three other persons to be made justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana.
Kulendi was vetted together with Justice Joy Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu on Tuesday 12 May 2020. Following his vetting by parliament, Kulendi was approved by parliament on Wednesday 20 May 2020, and sworn into office on Tuesday 26 May 2020.
Kulendi became the first Ghanaian from the Upper West Region to be appointed to serve on Ghana’s highest court of jurisdiction. His appointment also now makes him a part of a small group of persons who were called to the Supreme Court bench directly from the bar.