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General News of Friday, 23 January 2009

Source: GNA

The pardon was not in good faith - Tsikata

Accra, Jan. 23, GNA - Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) on Thursday said he rejected the pardon granted to him by former President John Agyekum Kufuor because it was not done in good faith.

He said cynicism attached to the pardon did not portray any genuineness for justice but to show its opponent 'where power lies'. Mr Tsikata gave the explanation at a special forum organised by members of Free Tsatsu Campaign (FTC) to welcome him after his release from prison.

The well-attended forum attracted people from all walks of life including functionaries of National Democratic Congress (NDC). Mr Tsikata expressed concern about challenges of the country's legal systems and interference by the executive in affairs of the Judiciary.

He said his personal experiences with the legal and judicial systems had brought to the fore the unfair nature of the system. Mr Tsikata said his agenda for justice was not only about the injustice meted out to him but to the countless Ghanaians who had similar problems with the legal and judicial systems.

He pointed out that he did not harbour any bitterness against former President Kufuor or Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, the trial judge for his incarceration but rather sought God's guidance and prayer for them.

Mr Tsikata commended Ghanaians for their solidarity and support during his incarceration which he described "as overwhelming." He pledged to work to ensure that about 1,200 inmates at Nsawam Medium Security Prison most of them on remand without any warrant were released.

"Remanding these inmates without any warrant is an abuse of their human rights and efforts should be done to secure their freedom," he added.

Professor Akilapka Sawyerr, former Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana expressed his delight and relief that Mr Tsikata had returned from prison.

He said Mr Tsikata was among the few selfless people who had sacrificed for the country in the quest to search for oil. "Everything about Mr Tsikata's imprisonment was abuse of the judicial process, "he said.

Mr Kwesi Pratt Junior, member of FTC said Mr Tsikata's release from prison did not mean the struggle had ended.

"This campaign is not just about Mr Tsikata but for all Ghanaians no matter their class, status or political affiliation," he added. Mr Pratt said there were many prisoners because of executive manipulation and the task was to ensure such people had justice and fair play.

Former President Kufuor in a statement on January 6, pardoned over 500 prisoners of various categories including Mr Tsikata who was serving a five-year term for wilfully causing financial loss to the State. It said seven personalities had also been granted "free, absolute and unconditional pardon".

On June 18, last year, an Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court Judge sitting as a High Court Judge,

sentenced Tsikata to five years' imprisonment for wilfully causing financial loss to the State and misapplying public property. He was found guilty on three counts of causing financial loss to the State and one count of misapplying public property and jailed for five years on each count to run concurrently.

Tsikata was charged with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢ 230,000 (2.3 billion old cedis) to the State through a loan he, on behalf of GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private company, and another count of misapplying public property. 23 Jan. 09