Samuel Azu Crabbe, born on November 18, 1918, and passed away on September 15, 2005, was a prominent Ghanaian barrister, solicitor, and jurist. He served as the fifth Chief Justice of Ghana following the country's independence.
Crabbe was born in James Town, a suburb of Accra, the capital of Ghana. He received his secondary education at Accra Academy, where he held the position of head boy in 1939. Afterward, he attended Achimota College before proceeding to University College London. In 1946, he graduated with a law degree from University College London and was called to the English Bar in 1948 at Middle Temple. While studying, he actively participated in various sports and captained junior and university football, hockey, and cricket teams.
Even after completing his education, Azu Crabbe remained involved in sports. He served as the President of the Ghana National Olympic Committee from 1968 to 1969 and was re-elected to the same position in 1979.
Returning to Ghana after completing his legal training in the United Kingdom, Azu Crabbe began practicing as a barrister and solicitor from 1950 onward. In 1959, he became a High Court judge and later, in 1961, was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana. In addition to his judicial responsibilities, Azu Crabbe undertook other roles. He served as the head of the National Finance Board during the rule of the National Liberation Council, which had overthrown the Nkrumah government. In 1967, he led a commission of enquiry known as the Azu Crabbe commission, which investigated the assets of Kwame Nkrumah, the former president of Ghana.
In 1973, Azu Crabbe was appointed Chief Justice by the National Redemption Council (NRC), the military government that had overthrown the Busia government. He received a gold medal from the International Association of Trial Lawyers in 1977 for his notable achievements. However, his administration faced criticism from the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), which eventually passed a vote of no confidence. Under pressure, the Supreme Military Council (SMC) published a decree specifically targeting Azu Crabbe, the Judicial Service (Amendment) Decree, 1977 (SMCD 101), effectively retiring him from the office of Chief Justice.
During the era of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) led by Jerry Rawlings, four individuals, including three judges and a retired army officer, were abducted and murdered in 1982. Azu Crabbe was appointed as the Chairman of the Special Investigation Board (SIB) formed to investigate the murders. Despite facing intimidation and attempts to discredit the process, he remained resolute in his conviction and duty to the nation. The SIB's work led to the recommendation for the prosecution of ten individuals, including two members of the PNDC. Azu Crabbe and Captain Kojo Tsikata engaged in public exchanges following the presentation of the Final Report, with allegations surfacing regarding Crabbe's supposed connection with the American CIA.
In recognition of his service to Ghana, Crabbe was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Volta in 1977. Samuel Azu Crabbe passed away on September 15, 2005, in Aburi, Eastern Region, Ghana. He left behind his wife, five children, and nine grandchildren.
Date of Birth: November 18, 1918
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: James Town, Accra