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Feature Article of Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Columnist: Bawa, Abdul Razak

Let Sanity Prevail In Our Courts!

‘’Law is a collective organization of the individual’s right to lawful defense.’’

A preamble in law states that every individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction. In the grips of the law, an accused person would wish every article of the law is passed with full benefits to him or her.

In 1992, the fourth Republican Constitution was ushered in with the support and compliment of Ghanaians, as we voted in a referendum to accept democracy as the only form of governance ordained by the creator. So help us God as we chart that path of self-rule and freedom guaranteed to all, a creed that recognizes the contribution of every individual in the pursuit of their full potentials and an acceptance that your freedom ends where mine begins.

The National Democratic Congress one (NDC) ruled for eight years from 1992-2000, presided over by His Excellency the former President Jerry John Rawlings. During this time, people were put before the law courts and tried for various offences; some were convicted and some freed. This included politicians, journalists, and the common man like me.

All this to the advancement of democracy.

John Agyekum Kufuor succeeded John Rawlings from 2001-2008 with a pledge and a declaration of ‘’Zero Tolerance for Corruption’’. This promise was followed by the establishment of the Fast Track High Court, pioneered by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo who was then the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

Tsatsu Tsikata who happened to be among the first people to be put before the Fast Track High Court challenged the constitutionality of its establishment; he was subsequently jailed by that court.

The Kufuor administration really used the Judiciary to its advantage, which is supposed to uphold the rule of law. Many people were incarcerated, including former ministers of state under the Rawlings’s regime with a silent law, which had gathered dust in our statute books and was brought to life ‘’Causing Financial Loss To The State”. The target was their political opponents and they rightly succeeded in doing that.

With every era we advance and entrench democracy. Of course because, ‘’Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King Jr.), so we should strive to protect every citizen.

In 2008, Ghanaians were called upon once again to elect a new leader, we voted in one of the closely contested and fiercely-fought election. The verdict was the return of NDC2, under the leadership of his Excellency Prof. John Evans Atta Mills.

Once again, we have to test our legal system, and our Judges and Lawyers are called upon to defend that which they swore to uphold.

There is a widely accepted view and notion among Ghanaians that, the NPP has their cronies controlling the courts as well as other sensitive government positions. A victory for democracy is a common phrase I wake up to this day, when ever any member of the NPP is acquitted and discharged after standing trial for one offence or another.

The president promised Ghanaians as a candidate to help fight corruption, and bring all those who are found to have misappropriated state funds to justice.

This promise was not made in a vacuum. It was largely because of the apparent corrupt practices and opulence of the NPP government and its cronies, which was very evident everywhere and this was one of the reasons why Ghanaians voted for NDC, despite reports of increase in results from certain parts of the country, to come and end the corrupt practices that have found its way into our body politics and our national psyche.

The president after he won the polls and was sworn-into office affirmed that promise to fight corruption and reduce it to the barest minimum. He recently said he won’t shield anybody who is found to have misappropriated state resources, either in his government or the former administration.

Initially, when the axe wasn’t falling, I said it doesn’t mean the one wielding it is not strong. But that due diligence needed to be done and as the saying goes, “the wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly fine.’’

But I am not a learned man like those in the legal business will prefer to refer to themselves as, but I don’t need to be one to say what I am about to say. It is common place knowledge that justice delayed is justice denied. Everybody knows that, including street urchins and the very un-educated.

To assure Ghanaians of keeping to their promise, the Justice Duose Commission was set up to look into the Ghana @50 celebration. I was awed by the revelations of massive corruption, as it was broadcast live by the National Television.

At the end of the sitting of the commission, only two persons were put on trial, an exercise in futility if you ask me.

Only Kwadwo ahofe Mpianin, the former Chief of Staff under Kufuor’s regime and the Chief Exective Officer (CEO) of the defunct Ghana @50, Dr. Charles Wrekko Brobbey. They were acquitted and discharged on the basis of technicality, which all the lawyers in the A-G’s department overlooked.

That was the government’s waterloo, as they begun losing one case after another. The latest is the acquittal of Amina Yutong Bus. The score unfortunately is 14 to nothing.

There seem to be knee-jerk reaction from the government in its attempt to punish people for their involvement in malpractices, and because of this, it is either cases before the law courts are lost or documents couldn’t be traced or prosecutors fail to turn up, when they do, they always asked for more time. Haba!

Former president Rawlings, who has exhibited a great sense of integrity, has had course to criticize the government for its inability to put before trial former government appointees for their alleged involvement in embezzling state funds.

Government reacted in a way that seemed to suggest that, okay you are putting pressure on us, so we are taking some to court, only to go and lose the case. I am of the view that government is not doing well at all in the area of justice.

If there are elements in the security services or the judiciary, especially the A-G’s department, who are thwarting governments’ efforts to get justice for the families of Ya-na, Yakubu Andani, the Overload of the Dagbon Traditional Area and Issa Mobila, former Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), please get rid of them. You make it look like you have power but don’t have authority.

It was disgusting to read and hear about the release of the security personnel indicted for aiding criminals to smuggle cocoa across the eastern border, making Anas Armeyaw Anas’ investigations useless.

What about the Tema Harbour, expose of the CEPS official caught on tape demanding bribe from importers? What more evidence do we need? Isn’t it strange to read that the prosecutor had failed to turn up any time the case was called? What precedence are we setting for the future generation? The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them; one declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Ps: I am on my knees pleading with our Judges that in the name of almighty God, that in keeping with the principles of their training, they should be impartial for once, and not allow the NPP to have their way this time around, in the matter brought against the Electoral Commission (EC) in its decision to create new Constituencies. Sanity must be allowed to prevail.

By Razak Bawa: razakbawa@gmail.com

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