Profile on Isaac Kobina Abban

Isaac Kobina Donkor Abban (born 1933, and died April 21, 2001 in Accra ) was Chief Justice of Ghana (chief magistrate ) between 1995 and 2001.

Justice Abban was the 17th Chief Justice of the Seychelles and the third one after independence. He was born in Gold Coast now Ghana. Kobina, one of his given names, denotes that he is from the Akan tribe and that he was born on a Tuesday.

He was appointed by then-President Jerry Rawlings of the official successor of Philip Edward Archer and predecessor of Edward. Kwame Wiredu.

As Chief Justice he first time in 2001 took the elected President John Agyekum Kufuor the oath of office.

Furthermore Abban was Chief Justice in the Seychelles.


Abban studied law and was admitted in April 1959 in the Bar Association. Abban was for the chamber ( Aumog Chambers ) in Cape Coast active in the early sixties. After a successful career as a lawyer Abban was appointed judge in the post.

He rose late seventies to a judge of the High Court. During this activity, he was appointed in 1978 to the Returning Officer ( electoral commissioner ) in the time of Ignatius Kutu Acheampong military junta. In this position, he stepped forward to a referendum, which would have a renewed military rule made ​​possible by Acheampong.

This referendum has been submitted by the Supreme Military Council under Achemampong the people in a referendum on 30 March 1978, and should lead to the establishment of a unity government ( Union Government, Unigov ). Acheampong was planning a collaboration between the military, police and civilians to form a government while avoiding party democracy.

The opposition to this referendum as Returning Officer for the upcoming elections of 1979 brought the then High Court Judge Abban into disrepute with the military rulers. Abban left the country in fear for his life. The referendum resulted in Ghana to such a major uprising against the rulers that came to the deposition of Acheampong by Fred Akuffo in June 1979 as part of a palace revolt. Abban went to the Seychelles, where he made also career as a judge. He was appointed as Chief Justice here.

Abban left Ghana in 1990 to take up the post of Chief Justice of the Seychelles.

In the Seychelles he befriended Princess Huguette Prempeh, the granddaughter of King Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I, (whose original throne name was Kwaka Dua III Asuma) who was exiled in the Seychelles in 1900.

Princess Huguette Prempeh spoke fluently the Kreol, the prestigious Ashanti dialect and Italian languages. As an African Princess Huguette was not recognised as such in the Seychelles even though she spent a long time at the Royal household in Ashanti.

The only African princess who spent her life between the British Royal ménage and her homeland in Africa was Princess Sarah Forbes Benetta of the Royal West African dynasty. She was captured by King Ghezo of Dahomey in 1848 and was taken to England and presented as a gift to Queen Victoria.

While still in the Seychelles Abban met another Ghanaian, Martin K Budu-Kwatiah, Martin  was amongst those who were persecuted by the regime of   Acheampong and sought refuge in England and later came and settled in the  Seychelles.

He was well known at La Digue. Martin later went to Ghana to testify at the “National Reconciliation Commission” about his brutal treatment sustained under Archeampong. Abban did not testify but described  his ordeal in a letter the committee and explaining how he evaded death.



In 1993 he returned to his country. Two years later Jerry Rawlings appointed him as Chief Justice and he became the longest serving Chief Justice of Ghana.

While he was Chief Justice of Ghana,  Abban presided on many controversial cases. He was criticised for his ruling that gave all the registered voters the right to participate in the elections even though some did not have the new documents of identifications.

When he arrived in the Seychelles Abban was in poor health, with acute Hypertension. Later while in Ghana he went to a conference in Malaysia. There he collapsed with “Renal failure” and went for urgent treatment at the Cromwell Hospital in London, a private hospital now renamed the “Bupa Cromwell Hospital”. He came back weak and unhealthy but still occupied his post of Chief Justice.

On the 7th of January 2001, he sworn in President John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor. Kufuor came to power in the December 2000 elections, the first peaceful democratic transition of power in Ghana since the country’s Independence in 1957.

Immediately after that historical event Abann went to England for treatment.  Kufuor approved his retirement on health reasons for 1st May 2001 but he died with acute Renal failure on 21 April 2001 (while still in office) at the Trust (SSNTI) Hospital at Osu Oxford Street, in  Accra at the age of 67.


References: memim