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Opinions of Monday, 13 October 2014

Columnist: Ansobie, Biliguo bie

Ghana's Rotten Legal System

The executive is a mere window dressing; government, a tool of oppression; cabinet an organ of lawlessness. The intersection of all these is hypocrisy. I think it is not only the EC that needs reforms. Parliament too needs some of it. A stronger parliament and stronger individuals who would be obliged to enforce the law with all alacrity and selflessness. The constitutional review process is ongoing. Both majority and minority have criticized the current parliamentary system. They call for proportional representation or the West Minster System. Yes, at least in their individual capacities in the winner-takes-all discussions, albeit with hypocrisy. Parliament is said to be in the belly of the executive and the latter wields too much power which often necessitates them to arrogate further absolute powers to themselves outside the bounds of legality. The functions and limits of cabinet are not (clearly) stated in the 1992 constitution of Ghana.

What do we do to a clerk who refuses to submit allegations on government appointee designates? What do we do to Chairman of Appointments committee if he ignores or takes such letters less seriously?, what do we do a president who willfully violates his oath of office to issue such an appointment, the carelessness and “irregorousness’ of the appointments committee not withstanding? What do we do to a Speaker who uses his/her discretion to shred a petition requesting the investigation into a matter of national interest? I have often giggled at the right to work if ones documents are dropped at a time when every one else own are considered. How do you fight for your right without money? Will the Legal Aid Board give a person all the assistance one needs? How about other services outside the legal domain should government stretch the matter beyond proportion with state resources? What if a sitting president shoots a boy dead? What if government tarries in implementing the right to information bill. Can we drag our president to court just as congress threatened President Obama on his pro-poor healthcare policy? When sought to confront the truth they hide like tortoises.

Mahama defied public outcry to install Spio, supervised illegal withdrawal from an Oil account, overstepped the bounds of the powers of cabinet to form his own committees; committing high treason therefrom, ordered voting without biometric registration. I wonder what will happen if he one day shoots a boy dead for he ever (nearly) triggered a weapon against JJ, his former boss.

Overtly capricious. I think that is the term. This government is aggravating matters by creating a myriad of illegalities so that common sense may compromise the dignity of so called important people in society. People in leadership positions forget they belong to a sovereign nation and it is the people they serve. Knowledge of the latter seem to come to us during electioneering campaigns. After which we clinch to power, not to contribute our quota to the development of the nation but, to get our share of the national cake, indeed our chunk of the iceberg. Some have even vowed targets of wealth to acquire as if government business was private corporate competition.

Much has been paid members of parliament so that the business community or interest groups could get their views articulated in parliament. This raised up a national issue sometime earlier and parliament was to take the matter on. That “lecturer and epileptic” promised he was prepared to avail himself for defense, after series of denials. This matter went down the drain. If not let’s wait to see what action the Speaker and parliament will take on the report concerning the investigation. I am not saying government should not seek expert opinion to enlighten government including parliament under particular circumstances, such as in genetic modified organisms, or an IT policy, before they can make rightful decisions. But where it amounts to parcels of token so that it may be lorded over the few ordinary people because of certain individual or group interests, it calls for concern.

The Public Accounts committee has often criticized MMDAs on financial malfeasance but the recommendations therein have been mere routines of the Auditor General. I think some day it will cost the nation good for the Auditor General to leave the status quota and fold up his industry. The laid down structures have never worked. The President added his voice in a harmless directive. Variables won’t, constants aren’t.

Because of this lackadaisical attitude of parliament people often snubbed the privileges committee of parliament with all its summoning power. 

The code of conduct of members of parliament is yet to be implemented. I wonder whether it can make any significant meaning to their total workput. 

Within government of its own caliber no one looks into the report of the transition team. The new government busies itself with the pomp and pageantry of the new investiture, where they talk big for the coming days.

Many have cried they make the Attorney General’s office separate from the Ministry of Justice. In this prosecutions could be followed without executive incursion. But I think government rejected that recommendation of the constitutional review commission in its white paper. There must be control, they argued. Even including the RTI bill.

Powers of president and oversight influence in state institutions would not be whittled down. Mills used to place a ceiling on what judgement debt the courts could give as if they have had no discretion. I don’t know the position of Mahama. Even that there is much negotiation beyond the court order, at the AG office at what figures needs to be reconfigured according to their discretion. Where beneficiaries are party loyalists, the amount is inflated with expectation of plough back profit. When s/he belongs to the opposition it is whittled down to peanut. Cabinet may sit on it or the president may use his veto.

EOCO with all its refurbishment, is it refurbishment, budgetary doll out is still being described as a hide out for serious fraud. When it becomes a national issue the government snatches it from them to form a committee of enquiry as if is not equipped enough to tackle important issues. If this is beyond its mandate fine, but sometimes it is just choice based on executive influence. If not I know EOCO like CHRAJ can end its proceedings in a court of law.

Is it this CHRAJ or EOCO that has a rent mangana that the nation is paying dearly for, and over 90% of its employees, not just from the same tribe but the same village. It is the Head office am referring to.

The reorientations and overlapping roles EOCO/CID/BNI/ NATIONAL SECURITY as well as CHRAJ calls for serious concerns. The least mistake you are laid off, deemed not sharing a vision with them. Nobody asks for explanation. We remain swollen tongued.

Mahama has arrogated to himself powers to dabble in the tomfoolery of his predecessor that may someday languish him in sheol. Look the Constitutional Review Commission is going its way while parliament is silent, really speaking at the sidelines, so to speak, while nothing is being done about the winner-takes-all system. Much information has been given, however. My concern is not to take a position but to condemn the hypocrisy in no uncertain terms since nothing is been practically done. 

And look! African governments have threatened withdrawal from the Rome Statue which established the International Criminal Court to do prosecutions where member states have been unable or unwilling to do them. They have instead suggested an African Union Court, which will exempt presidents and ministers of Africa from prosecutions while they hold offices. Will this same institution (or constitution) provide for their step down to aid investigations. While I have not been following the story thoroughly this is the aspect that will reduce the Arusha-based court to ground zero. This will enable them to carry on their nefarious activities to sustain them in government at all cost, with impunity of course, only to be spared or granted amnesty by their governments when they step down. Africa’s corruption and oppression will now have a fertile ground to thrive. I am not against an African Court to settle African matters, even the ICC as it stands has greater African Presence: the Chief Prosecutor, former President of the court and other notable members are Africans. Its potency on non-Africans is by all means a waterloo to be addressed. But if an African Court can work well we don’t need to waste resources elsewhere.

I hope the Moh Ibrahim award would not shortlist John Mahama otherwise there will be demonstrations and chaos in the streets of Accra as corruption is one of the hall marks of this regime. Even though Ghana tops 7th on the index, he can no where be a recipient were he to step down or complete his tenure. 

Ghana’s media itself is very corrupt, topping Africa and probably world rankings. They broadcast or publish what suits them but bag what they deem unpalatable awaiting a future time. So much of the criteria that will reduce Ghana from its consistent position has been shielded. Our position on the anti-corruption index by Transparency International has not been any better over the years. They are not saints or angels, but where there is outright connivance in corruption deals with the business magnates in dubious judgement debts and contract sums and among government functionaries themselves, must we keep quiet because we want our leader to earn the million dollar award? By no means!

This piece is but a harbinger. We watch out for a day when they will truly emerge and what excuse they will have to give for the blatant violations, indiscretions, abuse of power, and causing of financial loss to the state and the gains thereof, if any.

The courts are not behaving like anyone else, the least said about them the better. They seem inviolate and next to God. Should this third organ of government mess up we are doomed. Even though they receive their share of criticisms I pray these “legal men” to remain resolute in their high moral standing to serve society in the rightful way.