The 1992 Constitution of Ghana is the supreme law of the state. This means that no other law in Ghana would supersede this document’s authority and if any legislation is enacted that conflicts with the constitution, that legislation would be declared, unconstitutional (Article 1(2)). It is a law of the people and for the people because unlike any of the legislations in the country, there was a referendum by the people to accept it into force. It is also from the constitution that the people gain the sword of the ballot box through the universal adult suffrage to vote some officials like the president to rule them.
The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana was approved on 28 April 1992 through a national referendum after 92% support and came into effect on January 7, 1993. It declares Ghana to be a unitary republic with sovereignty residing in the Ghanaian people. The preamble to the 1992 constitution of Ghana starts with the following words: “IN THE NAME OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD WE THE PEOPLE OF GHANA…’. This affirms and presupposes that the government exists to serve the people. Also Article 1 provides that The Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution. Article 125(1)(3) of the 1992 Ghana Constitution states that “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.
The document reflects the lessons drawn from the abrogated constitutions of 1957, 1960, 1969, and 1979, and it incorporates provisions and institutions drawn from British and United States constitutional models and is keenly drawn with the intent of preventing another coup, dictatorial government, and one party states, it is designed to foster tolerance and the concept of power-sharing. It also defines the fundamental political principles, establishing the structure, procedures, powers and duties of the government, structure of the judiciary and legislature, and spells out the fundamental rights and duties of citizen.
An important part of the constitution is the Preamble which explains the purposes of the Constitution, and defines the powers of the government as originating from the people. It states that:
IN EXERCISE of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity;
IN A SPIRIT of friendship and peace with all peoples of the world;
AND IN SOLEMN declaration and affirmation of our commitment to;
Freedom, Justice, Probity and Accountability;
The Principle that all powers of Government spring from the Sovereign Will of the People;
The Principle of Universal Adult Suffrage;
The Rule of Law;
The protection and preservation of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, Unity and Stability for our Nation;
DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
The preamble is sometimes considered to be the spirit of the constitution.
Another part of much importance in the constitution is the Articles 1- 3. Article 1 talks about the supremacy of the constitution and that, any legislation in conflict with the constitution is deemed unconstitutional. It also talks about the sovereignty of the people in the state. Article 2 gives a sort of right to bring before the Supreme Court of Ghana, any enactment or provision in any enactment that is unconstitutional or any act or omission by any person that is deemed to be unconstitutional. Article 3 of the Constitution, places a duty on the people to o defend this Constitution, and in particular, to resist any prison or group of persons seeking to commit any of the treason or attempts a coup (b) to do all in their power to restore this Constitution after it has been suspended, overthrown, or abrogated. It seems to me that the constitution seems to support civil disobedience and the phrase ‘all in their power’ could be seen as sanctioning violence, because if all in my power includes taking my AK 47 and recruiting people to resist the acts talked of in Article 3(3), isn’t it violence and am I not within my right in the confines of the constitution?
Also another part to look at is 17(1) which reads, “All persons shall be equal before the law.” The exception to this provision is seen in Article 57 (2) which states that “The President shall take precedence over all other persons in Ghana; and in descending order, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament and the Chief Justice, shall take precedence over all other persons in Ghana.” Article 57(2) seems somehow problematic, because it for instance, the president murders, is he to go scot free. How about if there is a national emergency are they to see to the safety of the president before that of women and children? If we are to be equal, how come some people in the country are to take precedence of others. Maybe in the latter scenario, the rationale would mean that in times of national emergency, we would need someone to still take care of the administration of the country and to avoid any conflict of who it should be the sitting president , the vice president, speaker of parliament and chief justice safety should be assured before any other to prevent any anarchy of any sort.
Article 19(2) of our constitution provides to the effect that whenever a person is charged with an offence the punishment of which is death or life imprisonment and the said offence is neither high treason nor treason then such a person is to be tried by a judge and jury. Ostensibly, this is to make sure that such a person is tried by his/her peers with regards to the factual basis of his crime at least to make sure in the minds of like-minded people that his actions presents the actions of someone who deserves to be imprisoned for life or to suffer death. The question one may ask is that, is the jury trial very efficient?
We also have the second schedule of the constitution which provides for the oaths. An example is the Oath of Allegiance.
THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
I,……………………………………………………………………………………………do (in the name of the Almighty God swear) (solemnly affirm) that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic of Ghana as by law established; that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of Ghana; and that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. (So help me God).
To be sworn before the President, the Chief Justice or such other person as the President may designate.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW.
The president of Ghana, His Excellency Prof. John Evans Atta Mills on the 11th of January 2010, inaugurated a nine (9) member constitution Review commission (CRC) The Constitution Review Commission (CRC) was set up by a Constitutional Instrument 2010 (C.I.) 64 as a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a consultative review of the operation of the 1992 Constitution. The Commission would operate as a quasi-judicial body for 12 months and not more than 18 months. It is under the chairmanship of Professor Albert Fiadjoe, an Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of West Indies. One of its functions includes the making of recommendations to the government for consideration and providing a draft Bill for possible amendment to the 1992 constitution.