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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Sir John In Context

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I have said right here in this column that I definitely would not have used the exact words used by the General-Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to express my frustration, however well-founded, with the Atuguba-presided panel of nine jurists hearing the Akufo-Addo/NPP presidential petition. I also clearly don't think that Mr. Ayikoi Otoo did any exceptional job in getting Mr. Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie slapped with the rather hefty fine of GHC 5,000. This amount of money is quite a lot as far as the budget of the average Ghanaian civil servant is concerned.

Likewise, the fine of GHC 2,000 imposed on Mr. Hopeson Adorye was rather harsh. But that the alleged contemnors were also given just 48 hours, or so, to settle their respective fines or in default of the same serve a prison term ranging from three to six months was quite unsettling. Nonetheless, it was also quite understandable that Justice William Atuguba, in particular, would take great exception to his abject characterization and utter disparagement by the man popularly called Sir John.

Indeed, I was a little gobsmacked by the language reportedly used by Sir John because as a lawyer, one expected Mr. Owusu-Afriyie to have been more circumspect, diplomatic and tactful in his use of the kind of abusive language attributed him. Etiquette does not permit this author to hereby repeat Sir John's tirade against Justice Atuguba. Still, the latter also did not remarkably help matters by clearly and inordinately seeming to be partial to the equally flagrant misbehavior of respondent attorneys like Messrs. Tsatsu "The Thief" Tsikata and Tony Lithur.

In terms of the punishment meted Messrs. Owusu-Afriyie and Adorye, I feel a bit surprised, because when Messrs. Okudzeto-Ablakwa and Omane-Boamah, both then deputy cabinet appointees, cavalierly flouted a Supreme Court decision to return his legitimately acquired landed property to Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, no punitive sanctions were exacted against these two young men by either their boss, the now-late President John Evans Atta-Mills, or the Supreme Court itself. Their executive privilege mauger, nobody called for the immediate resignation of these two cabinet second-bananas. And today, Dr. Omane-Boamah is Ghana's substantive Minister of Communication, while Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa doubles as Deputy Education Minister and Member of Parliament for one of the Tongu constituencies in the Volta Region.

What I am trying to suggest here is that if distinguished members of our august Supreme Court and, indeed, the judicial system at large, want to be respected, then it stands to reason that they have to conduct themselves in an evenhanded manner. In fine, it ought not to be the case that only members of the New Patriotic Party are seen to be respectful of the membership of the highest court of land, while the key operatives of the National Democratic Congress are envisaged to live nonchalantly and comfortably and proudly above the law.

At any rate, the call by Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, a self-styled founding member of the New Patriotic Party and widely known blood relative of President John Dramani Mahama, for Sir John to resign as General-Secretary of the NPP because of the latter's reported use of intemperate language in his legitimate criticism of the members of the Atuguba-presided panel was also grossly misplaced. For not only was such call flagrantly tinged with a conflict of interest, it also clearly lacked the requisite credibility. For not only has Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe been vigorously opposed to the Akufo-Addo/NPP presidential petition from the very beginning, the former Kufuor ambassador to Eastern Europe has also effectively alienated himself from the executive ranks of the NPP.

I must also readily confess the fact that the public announcement by former President John Agyekum-Kufuor that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NPP was going to shortly take a decision on the fate of Sir John rattled me in no small measure. I was therefore indescribably relieved when Nana Akomea, the NPP Communications Director, emerged from the NEC meeting with the good news that, indeed, Sir John's name had not even come up on the agenda of the NEC. It was delectably evident that Mr. Kufuor and his associates had come to the all-too-thoughtful realization that removing Sir John from his legitimately acquired position would be tantamount to committing downright political suicide for the benefit of their rabid political opponents.

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
August 24, 2013
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net
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