– MountCrest Rector tells law students
The Rector of MountCrest University College, Mrs. Irene Ansa-Asare Horsam, has urged law students to take their legal education seriously because they have a special role to play in the development of Ghana’s relatively young democracy.
She said although she does not agree that legal education should hold an elevated status, she recognises that it is indeed special because its distinctiveness is underlined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, specifically in Articles 125(1) and 88(1).
“Article 125(1): Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary, which shall be independent and subject only to this Constitution. Article 88(1): There shall be an Attorney-General of Ghana who shall be a Minister of State and the principal legal adviser to the government,” Mrs. Horsham quoted.
Mrs. Horsham gave this advice at the 11th matriculation ceremony of the MountCrest University College, held virtually at the weekend to admit the 2021 (A) cohort of law students.
The Rector noted that as far as Ghana’s Constitution is concerned, the Judiciary’s role in the administration of justice – and that of the Attorney-General in being the legal advisor to government – cannot be performed by anyone other than persons who are qualified as lawyers.
These roles, she said, are indirectly reserved by the Constitution for lawyers. “That is what makes legal education so special in the development of our young democracy. Unlike other roles in government, people not trained in law are not permitted by the Constitution to perform roles of the Judiciary and Attorney General because they simply cannot,” she stressed.
She observed that this restriction does not arise elsewhere. For example, she said, the Minister of Health need not be a doctor; the Finance Minister need not have a professional qualification in finance; Parliamentarians need not hold university degrees – and even the President of the Republic, technically, need not have an academic qualification beyond functional literacy.
“That tells you how important and significant your formal admission today into the LLB programme at MountCrest is. This means that in addition to your studies, you are today being called upon to uphold Ghana’s motto: Freedom and Justice”.
“The journey starts here. You are potentially a future Attorney-General, a future judge, a future Chief Justice. None of your colleagues from other disciplines can perform the vital role of the judiciary that requires independence subject only to the Constitution. Not to the Executive, not to the Legislature – but only to the Constitution,” she told the students.
She said the degree students will receive at the end of their programme will only be a starting point that does not end with its conferment, but will prepare them for life. “That is why we say, Start Here, Go Anywhere.”
The Rector charged law students to learn to be bold and assertive as they prepare to become legal practitioners, since Ghana needs law graduates who can speak truth to power and uphold Ghana’s motto of Freedom and Justice.
Quoting English Judge Lord Denning, the MountCrest Rector pointed out that there are two types of law graduates which enter society: “Bold Spirits and Timorous Souls”. She therefore urged law schools to eschew teaching and learning methods which breed “timorous souls”.
“At MountCrest, we encourage critical thinking, dissent, tolerance for opposing beliefs, and togetherness in spite of our differences. We actively promote diversity, equality and inclusion; and we manifest all these in our teaching and learning methods,” she stated.
On behalf of the Founders, management and staff of MountCrest, the Rector welcomed the fresh law students and assured them of a fruitful stay at the university college, which is the premier private tertiary institution in Ghana to offer the LLB programme to applicants from Ghana and beyond.
She also used the occasion to congratulate MountCrest alumna Ms. Victoria Vera Akonu, who was recently appointed as a magistrate; the first female to serve her municipality, Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem, in that capacity.
She said Ms. Akonu’s appointment epitomises what MountCrest stands for and promotes through its two initiatives on access to legal education – i.e., Capacity Building for Development; and Equality and Inclusion.
The Acting Registrar of MountCrest, Ms. Ama A. Akor, assured the students that the university college will give them the needed resources and support to enable them achieve their ultimate aim of becoming world-class legal practitioners. “We will help to make your stay here comfortable and worthwhile,” she added.
Prof. Vukor Quarshie, Head of Public Law-MountCrest University College, who represented the Dean of the MountCrest Law Faculty, Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare, presented the matriculates and charged them to be worthy members of the MountCrest community; and also urged them to take their academic work seriously while making the best use of their time at MountCrest.
On behalf of the matriculating students, Seyram Kofi Seyram (Class of 2021 A), thanked the management of MountCrest for giving them the opportunity to read law at its premier law faculty.
He expressed hope that the programme will, among other things, give the students a strong foundation for further studies, many career options, financial stability and awareness of the rights and responsibilities of Ghanaians to enable them uphold freedom and justice at all times.