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Opinions of Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Columnist: Antwi, William

Extraordinary and fascinating things are happening in our country!

In a stunning reversal of political fortunes, the same class of characters who for eight solid, uninterrupted year not only effectively destroyed the integrity of all vital state institutions, but also, flagrantly violated the rights of innocent Ghanaians and made victims out of others are now the same people claiming the moral and legal high ground! For example, only last year and in their usual breezy arrogance, they proudly cheered Justice Abban and the Supreme Court when they effectively abridged and undermined the right of an accused person to counsel in the scandalous and infamous trial and conviction of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata. In fact, we get righteously angry when we hear these characters demonizing the BNI for some of its tactics in "denying" them their right to counsel! How can they forget that they "denied" ex-president Rawlings, E.T. Mensah and others this same right? How time flies! And, how convenient!

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Instead of deploring themselves for undermining the integrity of our system of government by their corrupt and incompetent acts, they continue to lull themselves into the dangerous mind set that the laws of the land can be applied to each and every one of us but them. Honestly, my stomach churns when I hear individuals like Nana Akuffo Addo preaching the ethos of the rule of law and the virtues of democracy to us! All of a sudden, he has found his loud voice in calling on the Chraj to investigate the raging Maabey and Johnson scandal involving some prominent members of our ruling party. Meanwhile, he is deafeningly silent on Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddiq$B!G(Bs alleged involvement in that engulfing scandal. Interestingly, he nearly chose Alhaji Boniface Abubakar as his running mate. I am prompted to ask: Where was Nana Addo when ex-president Kuffour (by way of Alhaji Esseku$B!G(Bs bombastic accusation of kickbacks at the seat of government), Alhaji Moctar Bamba, Kwamena Bartels, Edumadze, Bintin, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Dr. Anane, Eric Amoateng, Dr. Nduom and many others, were all embroiled in credible allegations of corruption? Now add the VODAFONE bribery scandal to that infamous list! Did I mention the Jubilee House financial scandal and an alleged electoral fraud case involving a prominent member of parliament in his party?

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We agonize a lot over this unhealthy development because for eight "good"years, this nauseatingly arrogant group had the golden opportunity to build strong and effective state institutions including putting in place bright line rules to direct the operations these institutions. Yes, for eight solid years they wreak grave havoc on practically all state institutions from the presidency to parliament to the judiciary to the Police to the SFO to the Chraj, to the civil service. They did not even stop there. They shamelessly managed to romp in some of our churches and the Ghana Bar Association! Just ask yourself what Nana Akuffo Addo did as our Attorney General to streamline the operation of the BNI regarding treatment of witnesses vis-a-vis their right to counsel Seriously, was Nana Addo aware of the modern rules governing interrogation of custodial and non-custodial witnesses? For all those eight years, all they did was to tear apart the very foundation of these vital state inst itutions because such deplorable conduct mightily served their narrow, corrupt political and economic interests. Now that they are at the receiving end of these same guidelines, they are crying like spoilt babies. Are they now coming into the political realization that it was in their class interest to honestly and frankly shape, execute and implement the laws of the land?

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What is painfully obvious to any objective minded Ghanaian is that they want our laws to become a tool of discriminatory practice. Indeed, they think it is judicially and morally trendier to have two sets of law enforcement standards: One for them and another for the rest of us. If not, why are they now running to the courts shamelessly complaining about the same laws they had enforced against other citizens? Not only does their position defy common sense, it is very contemptuous! For how long can we continue to accommodate their arrogance without telling them that enough is enough? How many times should we remind them that any claim to legal and/or moral superiority must be predicated on our respect for the rights and freedoms of our fellow citizens? It is vitally essential to keep reminding this group that prosecuting justice is not some abstract concept devoid of reality. As the Great Books admonishes: Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.

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>From the ugly and illegal manner they are behaving including, but not limited to, their nasty confrontation with security agencies, law abiding citizens need extraordinary patience to contain their contempt. And, in fact, their arrogance - which is definitely beyond contempt - makes it hard for some of us to empathize with their self-inflicted predicament. At times, some of us really want them to feel the harsh reality of their misconduct while in power. Just imagine an individual like Asamoah Boateng seeking legal refuge from the High Court! The same court he and his cabal in the then NPP administration disrespected in the case involving Mr. Hodari Okae. Talk about being bewitched by true and pure justice! Instead of being humbled by their stunning electoral defeat - a defeat that was a direct result of their corrupt and incompetent management of our country, they continue to delude themselves into thinking that they are still in power and that they can do whatever they want !

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However, our sense of justice geared towards building very strong institutions to anchor our still struggling democracy demands that we take a fresher look at the way we do things in our dear country. Recent financial scandals abundantly show that our system of government is crying out for emergency reform, but, depressingly, - and as usual - we will go back to sleep when the spotlight on them dims. As a people, we are so pre-occupied with the sideshows that we tend to forget about the substantive issues/lessons in these important cases. It is depressing that we continue to see public corruption through our narrow-centered lenses. Sadly, we tend to look at the tribe and political party affiliation of individuals involved in serious pen robbery cases before staking our positions.

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How can we expect to grow as a nation and improve on the lives of millions of our folks if we continue to let off the hooks perpetrators of serious crimes against the nation just because they are members of our tribe and/or belong to the same political party? Mind boggling!

Some of us truly believe that we have the institutions and laws in place to win this great battle of our time, namely, stamping out public corruption in order to significantly improve on the lot of our suffering folks. Anybody who thinks that our leaders can solve those gruesome economic problems facing our people in the midst of unrelenting public corruption is a dangerous joker! How on earth can public corruption co-exist with any sound economic policy? If we truly want to save and stabilize our democracy, we must be prepared to deal ruthlessly and mercilessly with pen robbery by eschewing tribal and reckless partisan politics! Indeed, the mathematics of our time dictates that vital state institutions like the Judiciary, the Attorney General$B!G(Bs Department, the BNI, the CEPS, the Internal Revenue Service, The Auditor General$B!G(Bs Department, and, of course the Police Service, must be well equipped and manned by individuals with high intellect and integrity to deal with all shades of economic crimes and infractions!

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We must all rise up in defence of the integrity and survival of our democracy!

Thank you.

WILLIAM ANTWI a.k.a BAFO, NEW YORK.

WILLIAMANTWI@HOTMAIL.COM