Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe who passed away in Accra last Friday at 95 was an outstanding jurist and administrator, but a big part of his fame and mystique, over the decades, had invariably been his unusually long initials which preceded his last name.
Of course, Mr Crabbe was part of the heirs to the colonial public service who appeared to cherish initials far more than the actual names the initials represent and bore those initials with such aplomb and self-assurance.
In the judiciary, Justice Crabbe was the contemporary of some of our finest jurists that included M.K.Apaloo, E.N.P. Sowah, P.E.K. Archer, J.N.K Taylor, N.Y.B. Adade, I.K. Abban, among others, who sat on our nation’s highest court [Supreme Court] in the last third of the 20th century.
This was a generation of jurists and administrators who were fond of legalese and would firmly insist that the precepts and practices of public administration were not bent.
President Kufuor who worked closely with Justice Crabbe during both the 1969 and 1979 Constituent Assemblies once told me in a wide-ranging interview about about our politics and public service:
“Someone like Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe won’t bend the rules of public administration for any reason. No, he won’t, a very strict, disciplined official, he’s like night school English teacher who won’t bend the rules of grammar,” Mr Kufuor said.
But for my part, the name V.C.R.A.C Crabbe evoked pleasant, fond memories of the short-lived Third Republican governnent of Dr Hilla Limann.
Yes, the third republic was a great time of constitutional democracy, yes, it was a period in which a government with majority of MPs in parliament still saw its budget rejected on the floor of House of Parliament, and activist citizens scored legal victories over government in landmark constitutional cases.
The Supreme Court of the day packed with crack justices like V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe proved itself to be the ultimate oracle where the nation’s laws were rigorously interpreted
I remember a very famous case of Amoako Tuffuor vrs The Republic!
Dr Amoako Tuffuor, a then KNUST lecturer, won the case he brought against Limann’s government after the sitting Chief Justice, Mr Apaloo, had been dropped when the government was elevating judges of Court of Appeal to constitute a new Supreme Court which had been provided for by the 1979 constitution; Dr Amoako Tuffuor’s team of lawyers were led by young, flashy Nana Akufo Addo, our nation’s current president.
Justice Apaloo stayed put as Chief Justice following Amoako Tuffuor’s victory.
Such democracy-enhancing development stands as eternal tribute in memory of able jurists like V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe who were at once firmly grounded in the law and beyond that ready to follow what our constitution and our law dictate.
Thank you, Justice Crabbe, yes, justice, you and most of your contemporaries indeed were, thank you!
Your country and its citizens, Mr Crabbe, you did serve with distinction.
May your patriotic soul and body rest in everlasting peace.
Until we all reconnect in Heaven, your compatriots say:
Safe trip to God’s Kingdom.
Columnist: Kwabena S. Akosah