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Opinions of Friday, 16 June 2006

Columnist: Boafo, Eric

Eric Amoateng - The Golden Boy

Upon reading of news concerning the ?Transfer of Convicted Persons bill?, a sensation of pride ran through my spines and I thought aloud, ?how amazing for one to be a citizen of a nation that reaches out to its outlaws on foreign lands?. But after me being able to single mindedly break ?The Davinci Code? and beating the author himself to the conspiracy test, without the shedding of a single mental calorie, I easily unraveled the conspiracy behind the ?Transfer of Convicted Prisoners Bill?. The code to unraveling this conspiracy for me was ?Amoateng the Golden Boy?.

I see ?honorable? Amoateng?s name clearly written on the bill. I think the Interior Minister can save us some bits of memory on our web pages and save parliament and the news media some time and ink by calling the bill what it really is. Mr. Minister is the title of the bill not ?The Amoateng Bill?? For me any title other than this is a shameful exhibition of hypocrisy and deceit of the good people of Ghana. Let?s see how this bill will play out should it pass as law: Joe Amoateng goes to the US to visit his sick daughter (maybe to buy watches); Unfortunately for Joe His friend gets him in trouble; Joe is arrested and maybe pronounced guilty and sentenced; Joe is handed over to his beloved country (Ghana) where he will continuously be fed his favorite fufu and soup. But this scenario plays out well only if you are a ?Golden Boy?.

Am I being fussy? I guess I am but can anyone prove that the drawing of this bill and Amoatengs indictment in the US is a mere coincidence? As at November 2005 did the Ministry of Interior have plans for any such bill? If anyone believes this bill is an unfortunate coincidence with Amoateng?s arrest in the US then believe me when I claim the Adomi Bridge to mine and am putting it up for sale.

Why should we be thinking of Ghanaian prisoners outside our legal system whiles we struggle to feed Ghanaian prisoners in Ghana three square meals a day? How would we cater for the hundreds that may be transferred to as yearly? The Minister of Interior, the sponsor of the bill, has openly confirmed that our prisons as they stand today are not ready to take repatriated prisoners. If this is the case why is he in a rush? This adds to the fishy smell. I bet if you give Ghanaian prisoners abroad the option of serving their sentences in say the United States, Canada or Europe against the mosquito infested prisons in Ghana, they will undoubtedly choose the former.

It is not far fetching for one to think that this bill is solely being considered for one and only one person, ?Honorable? Amoateng. Already enough has been done to keep his seat vacant till the US court passes judgment on his case. In effect we have and are continuously subjecting a whole arm of our government (Parliament) and for that matter the sovereignty of our country to the jurisdiction of a foreign court. This is a vindication of formal presidential candidate, Dan Lartey?s accession of neo-colonialism in Ghana. Does a person who liars to parliament in order to take a private trip to another country and gets himself implicated in a criminal act deserve the sacrifice of our sovereignty?

Since November 2005, the people of Nkoranza North constituency have been denied their voice. They have been unconstitutionally disenfranchised for the sake of a ?Golden Boy?. Doesn?t our constitution require every single Ghanaian to have a representation in parliament? Why is the leadership of parliament refusing to give the people of Nkoranza North a voice in parliament? If doing that means a pronouncement of a guilty plea on the ?honorable?, does his interest override the daily suffering and the need for development for the thousands of people in his constituency? As it stands now, for as long as this case remains in the US court and ?honorable? Amoateng refuses to resign, the people of Nkoranza North will remain voiceless. The leadership of parliament is sending a clear message that Ghana?s parliament exist solely for the interest of the elected parliamentarians and not for the people.

Taking it to the level of ?honorable? Amoateng?s responsibility in this whole saga, I find it very shameful for him to still hold claim to his seat as he awaits his uncertain future in the US. When will African politicians add the word ?resignation? to their political dictionaries? Why can?t we call it quit when it is so obvious we are looming down? By holding on to his seat for this long, ?honorable? Amoateng has shown grave disrespect to his people and his country. He has thus subjected his personal integrity and that of his people, parliament, and Ghana to the jurisdiction and scrutiny of the American criminal justice system. I will in no way want to call such a person my parliamentarian. When the US senate majority leader, Tom DeLay, was implicated in a corruption scandal, he honorably and respectfully resigned his position because he didn?t want to make his position as majority leader a subject of criminal scrutiny. That is what real men do. They throw in the towel when the going gets tough.

The leadership of parliaments handling of the Amoateng case has set a very bad legal precedence. Their handling of the case would have been justified if ?Honorable? Amoateng was to have been arrested in Ghana. For me waiting on ?honorable? Amoateng to personally resign before declaring his seat vacant, after the obvious disrespect he?s shown to parliament by lairing about his trip symbolizes the moral and legal weakness of the Ghanaian parliament. And also waiting on the US court to pass judgment on the case before acting on ?honorable? Amoateng?s status in parliament is tantamount to the leadership of parliament selling the soul of Ghana to the devil which for them is a justifiable sacrifice for ?Amoateng the Golden Boy?.



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