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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Columnist: Asante-Yeboah, Joseph

“All die be die” – the other side of the coin

The following words were contained in a press release issued by a member of the NDC Government and posted on Ghanaweb on 12th January 2012: “... the leaked official documents .... have rather inadvertently supported my honesty and integrity in public office and my call for the prosecution of criminals regardless of their political party colorations or their social status.” The statement was issued by no less a person thanthe Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Hon Martin Amidu. It continued: “I was deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice for upwards of twelve and half years and know it is not proper for an Attorney-General to execute the functions entrusted to him under article 88 of the constitution in the media instead of the courts of justice. I will speak to the media when it is absolutely necessary to do so but I will not discuss people’s rights and cases in the media to prejudice their eventual procedural rights to a fair trial.”

The press release continued: “The ethics of a legal profession and the Bar, of which I am a leader, are more sacred to me than that of young and inexperienced members of a communication team of the NDC who are absolutely ignorant of the functions of an Attorney-General under the constitution of Ghana.” I salute the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for these bold words.

The responsibility that article 88 of the constitution places on the nation’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice is onerous, and it is people who are young, inexperienced and arrogant who will take it lightly. The following quote from a famous British judge is pertinent: “... in matters which concern the public at large the Attorney-General is the guardian of the public interest. Although he is a member of the government of the day, it is his duty to represent the public interest with complete objectivity and detachment . He must act independently of any external pressure from whatever quarter it may come. As the guardian of the public interest, the Attorney-General has a special duty in regard to the enforcement of the law.” Here, I am quoting the eminent British judge and Master of Rolls, the late Lord Denning, in 1973. The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice exercises the prerogative power of staying prosecutions on indictment by the entry of a nolle prosequi. What this means basically is that he can bring the hearing of a case to a halt. He is the custodian of the liberty of every individual in the country. The NPP has “Development in freedom” as its motto. Development in freedom is a dominant factor in nation building. Therefore, I congratulate Hon Martin Amidu who occupies the position of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for assuring the nation in strong terms that he will not take decisions on Party political lines.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice explained at the beginning of the press release that what necessitated it was three telephone calls he received on 9th January 2012 expressing support and urging caution for his personal safety. He concluded the press release by stating as follows: “I do not fear for my personal safety in a cause I have fought for since I was 30 years old. I am now over 60 years and count myself lucky if I pay the ultimate sacrifice which my compatriots paid in 1979 and 1981 belatedly in the regime of the third NDC Government.”

Martin Amidu continued: When you die you never know you never lived. Destiny can never be changed but the good people of Ghana and those who laid down their lives from them will forever live on. “

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice finished the press release by saying: “Ghana as a nation can never and should never be allowed to be intimidated by charlatans in political disguise.”

I challenge any other member of the government to say what Hon Martin Amidu has said – that “When you die you never know you never lived.” He is a lone shining star in the NDC administration.

Life is about making judgements, striking a balance all the time and growing up to be wise. I am delighted to know that, when it comes to striking a balance between their person and the national interest, there are politicians both in opposition and government who will not disregard the national interest even at the cost of their life. I feel happy in the knowledge that, in December 2012 when Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo wins the election, God willing, there will be people on the other side of the political divide who will strike the right balance in the national interest. “All die be die” is one side of the coin. The other side is: “When you die you never know you never lived”. This is what nation building requires.

The nation, Ghana, shall rise.

Joseph Asante-Yeboah 16.01.12