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Opinions of Monday, 23 April 2018

Columnist: K. Badu

Amidu has hit the nail on the head: Incompliant MPs must be prosecuted

The Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, could not have put it any better when he aptly beseeched the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Ghana Police to investigate the NDC MPs alleged double salaries to its logical conclusion and those who are found to have indulged in any criminalities prosecuted accordingly (See: ‘Double salary’ probe: MPs must face the law – Amidu; citinewsroom.com/ghanaweb.com, 19/04/2018).

“What is worrying for me is the knowledge that some people are even talking to the president to compromise so that crime will be overlooked because they are Members of Parliament…so Ghanaians will be awash,” he said in an interview he granted Citi News’ Umaru Amadu Sanda on Thursday.

“… Why should a Special Prosecutor be prosecuting ordinary Ghanaians and your honourables will be involved in these things; then they will be talking to the president to wash it up. Then I have no need sitting here. I won’t even have the conscience to continue.”

“Will I have the conscience to prosecute any other body for corruption if the CID finds something prosecutable and are not allowed to prosecute because Members of Parliament are involved? That is not fair.”

Well, 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 the narrow political colorations.

Readers would bear with me that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to the nation building, and therefore corrupt public officials must be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

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

Given the corrosive effect of corruption, no true patriotic Ghanaian should ever shrill and thrill over the alarming rates of sleazes and corruption being perpetrated by the elected public officials.

I recall a few years ago, the Supreme Court of Ghana returned a favourable verdict in the case of Occupy Ghana versus the Auditor General. The Supreme Court made it clear that the Auditor General is obliged to retrieve the embezzled or stolen funds from the culprits without fear or favour.

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

Let us however be honest, the innocuous 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?

Much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against corruption, it is never 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 lines.

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.

Truly, 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.”

And yet we can disappointingly recall 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 tomorrow will never come and go scot free, while the goat, cassava and plantain thieves are often incarcerated?

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.

How could Members of Parliament knowingly keep double salaries to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged people?

I have stated elsewhere that the recipients of the alleged double salaries have an inherent right to the presumption of innocence. Suffice it to stress that it is the job of the Police to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or to establish a prima facie case, and not a job for the suspects to prove their innocence.

In any case, I will venture to state that the deterrence for political criminals has been extremely disappointing. 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?

In fact, some of us cannot get our heads around how and 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 slackens 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).

It is, therefore, our fervent hope that the unwearied Mr Amidu will exert dint of effort and work assertively so as to put tabs on the almost insurmountable battle against the wanton sleazes and corruption that have delayed our development thus far.

k.badu2011@gmail.com