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Opinions of Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Akufo-Addo would have failed terribly if enemies of the state aren’t incarcerated

I would like to believe that no patriotic Ghanaian will ever shrill and thrill over the spate of sleazes and corruption in the country.

It would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind narrow political lines.

I must confess, though, I was over the moon when the Supreme Court of Ghana once returned a favourable verdict in the case of Occupy Ghana versus the Auditor General that the latter is obliged to retrieve the embezzled or stolen funds from the culprits without fear or favour.

Disappointingly, however, , my excitement became ephemeral, like the life span of a fly, when the Auditor General later claimed that some culprits have already returned their loots, albeit without the essential prosecutions.

Obviously, the benign and somewhat lenient approach would not circumscribe the widespread sleazes and corruptions which have been retrogressing Ghana’s advancement thus far.

How on earth would individuals turn away from their misdeeds if the only punishment for stealing public funds is a mere plea to return the loot? Let us be honest, much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against corruption, it is not an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with prevention and deterrence.

Regrettably, though, the justice system tends to clampdown heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and more often than not, let go the obdurate criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

Well, if we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only pay back their loots without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Verily, reported cases of political criminals misdeeds often leave concerned Ghanaians with a glint of bewilderment.

And what is more, when it comes to the prosecutions of the political criminals, we are often made to believe: “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but it will grind exceedingly fine.” Yet we can disappointingly recount a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other civil servants.

Where is the fairness when the political thieves could dip their hands into the national purse as if there is no tomorrow and go scot free, while the goat, cassava and plantain thieves are often locked up?

Indeed, it beggars belief that individuals could form an alliance, create, loot and share gargantuan sums of money belonging to the state and would eventually slip through the justice net.

I will dare state that there is no deterrence for political criminals. For, if that was not the case, how come political criminals more often than not go through the justice net, despite unobjectionable evidence of wrong doing?

Let us admit, though, corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to the nation building. To this end, corrupt officials must be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

As a matter of fact, corruption is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive.

In fact, some of us cannot comprehend why the people we have entrusted with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishment.

Regrettably, despite the fact that corruption slows down the nation building, some corrupt officials are nonetheless bent on siphoning our scarce resources to the detriment of the poor.

“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish” (UN 2003).

“For the poor, women and minorities, corruption means even less access to jobs, justice or any fair and equal opportunity” (UNDP 2016). Let us however keep our fingers cross for the arrival of the Special Prosecutor and pray that the corrupt public officials are brought to book.

Indeed, it will be gratifying to witness the Special Prosecutor exerting dint of effort and retrieving most of the stolen monies in the last few years, which obviously collapsed Ghana’s economy. It is our anticipation that the Special Prosecutor will go after the greedy politicians and other public servants who have shamefully stolen from the national purse.

Of course, the suspects and their apologists will grumble and squall over the Special Prosecutor’s lawful interrogations. Nevertheless, there will be no mercy for the wrong doers. We shall claw-back all the stolen monies which were meant for various developmental projects.

Let us therefore humbly remind President Akufo-Addo that the right antidote to curbing the unbridled sleazes and corruptions is through stiff punishments, including the retrieval of all stolen monies, sale of properties and harsh prison sentences.