Frederick Kwasi Apaloo was a Ghanaian barrister and judge who served as Chief Justice of Ghana from 1977 to 1986 and Chief Justice of Kenya from 1993 to 1995. He remains the only Ghanaian Supreme Court judge to have served in the first three Ghanaian republics.
Apaloo was born at Woe, a village near Keta in the Volta Region of Ghana, then the Gold Coast. He lost his father when he was 7 years old so an uncle who was a Kadjebi merchant cared for him through school. His secondary education was at Accra Academy in Accra which he completed in 1942. He subsequently read law at the University College, Hull.
Apaloo was called to the English bar in 1950 by the Middle Temple. He later returned to practise law in Ghana. He defended those involved in the Anloga riots following widespread protests against the imposition of taxes by the British colonial administration.
After Ghana attained its independence from British colonial rule, he was appointed a High Court Judge in 1960. In 1964, he presided over the treason trials of five persons including three close associates of President Kwame Nkrumah. They were Tawia Adamafio, information minister, Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, foreign minister and Hugh Horatio Cofie Crabbe, secretary of the ruling Convention People’s Party.
One of the other judges was Edward Akufo-Addo who also later became Chief Justice in 1966 and ceremonial President of Ghana in 1970. The acquittal led to the then president, Nkrumah trying to purge the judiciary. He was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1966 and to the Supreme Court of Ghana in 1971.
He was appointed Ghana’s Chief Justice in 1977. He was the sixth person to hold this position since Ghana became an independent nation. This was during the era of the military Supreme Military Council of Ghana.
On resumption of democratic rule under Hilla Limann in September 1979, the People’s National Party government attempted to replace him as incumbent Chief Justice by insisting he be vetted for the office he already occupied. A Ghanaian citizen, Amoako Tuffuor, took the issue to the Supreme Court and the presiding judge, Justice E. N. P. Sowah, who succeeded him on his (Apaloo’s) retirement, ruled that Apaloo became Chief Justice in the Third Republic as soon as the 1979 Ghanaian constitution came into force.
He served through the third republic of Ghana and continued after the overthrow of the Limann government on 31 December 1981. Due to his independence, the new military government, the Provisional National Defence Council led by Jerry Rawlings also tried to remove him as Nkrumah had tried before but failed in 1983.
He retired at the age of 65 years in 1986.
Kenya had a vacancy for Chief Justice in 1993 with no obvious candidate to fill it so he was appointed as the Chief Justice of Kenya in March 1993. He was noted to be against the death penalty while he was in Kenya. He remained Chief Justice until 1995 when he was succeeded by Abdul Majid Cockar.
He also served on the World Bank Administrative Tribunal from 1990 till 1995.