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Opinions of Monday, 16 November 2015

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

Has Amidu shot himself in the foot?

Opinion Opinion

Koo — What at all is wrong with Amidu? Our former Attorney-General has thrown a brick into the works of one of the most complex socio-political constructions ever erected in our country. I refer, of course, to the exposure by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, of corruption which he had detected being practised by 34 judges and nearly 200 judicial officials

Well, didn’t you hear what I said when the story first broke? I warned that unless the current Attorney-General quickly “cut the Gordian Knot” by outlining what she intends to do about the Anas tapes, the story would soon be made to lose focus.
But I didn’t think it would lose focus to this extent! Amidu is saying that Anas was not a fit and proper person to conduct the investigations!

Ahah! Loss of focus! Has Amidu answered the question: ‘Does it matter whether the person who exposed the corruption is fit or not? Isn’t the essential thing to punish the corrupt officials caught selling justice?

But it isn’t as simple as that. Amidu, in his typically ebullient way, has flown so many kites that I wonder whether he himself can keep an eye on all of them!
In other words, he has gone into over-drivel?

Maybe overkill! You see, the public like to have a straight-forward story and be done with it. Anas disguised himself. (Straight-forward). Anas obtained access, with his disguised persona, to judges and judicial officials. (Also straight-forward). And Anas paid money to some of them and videoed himself doing that. (A picture cannot lie; so altogether straight-forward!)
But then, Amidu comes forward and suddenly, the waters have turned murky?

Yes! Amidu alleges that Anas did not carry out the investigation into corruption by himself but was commissioned by the government to do so!

And people are asking “So what”? If the end is to uproot corruption from the judiciary, does it matter means were used? I mean, in particular, who it was that commissioned the investigation?

No! Amidu goes. Using the legal maxim that “he who goes to equity must go with clean hands”, he is saying that the company Anas used to conduct his investigation, Tiger Eye Investigations, is not properly registered as a private investigation company, but is what he calls a “dummy” company.

But is that important?
I am afraid it is. You see a private investigation company, according to Amidu, must be licensed before it can operate. Yet, he, as a former Minister of the Interior, knows for a fact that no such company has ever been licensed.

And isn’t that a mere detail?
Yes it is. But in legal matters, procedure and processes – known as technicalities – constitute an important an element in the strength or weakness of a case. The substantive issues can stand or fall by technicalities. The most absurd things can happen in cases – for instance, if a reply is not filed to an argument at the correct time it is required to be filed, the whole case can be struck out. There are many other considerations which a legal practitioner must keep in mind if his lawsuit is to succeed.

But I understand Anas is a lawyer? And also that he has a team of lawyers advising him? So why did he leave legal loopholes for Amidu to detect?

Probably Anas has been a bit euphoria. If you go about with a mask on your face and you carry out all manner of investigations and get people to adulate you, you might forget that others can shine a torchlight on your own practices. This is a free country.

Anas should take precautions against leaving his fingerprints about, as it were?
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Amidu has raised sophisticated issues about the judges’ corruption issue that move the case from the legal to thepolitical arena.

Good Lord? Ah?
Hmmm! Amidu is saying this: “When I was Minister of the Interior and also when I was Attorney-General, we were worried about some of the judgements that given against the government. We suspected that corruption might have played a part in making the decisions go against us. So the idea was mooted to secretly investigate some of the judges. Then I left office. But when Anas brought out his expose´, a bell rang in my head and I said to myself, “Oh, so these people did follow up our earlier idea to investigate the judiciary!”

And he was privy tohow the government had been “co-operating” with Anas?
He was in office when the cocoa smuggling investigation by Anas took place. And he was in office when the investigation into corruption at Tema Harbour took place. So he is within his rights to assume that the same methodology was used in the judges’ corruption case.

A case that was far more important than the earlier ones?
Much much more. He said to himself, if the government could assist Anas to uncover the cocoa thing; if it could also assist him – with money and security backup – to do the Tema Harbour exposure (both of which Anas has admitted he co-operated with the government in effecting) then why not co-operation on the bigger, more dangerous issue of the judges’ corruption, too? The investigation, according to Anas, lasted two years. Five hundred hours of video footage was shot. That must have cost a pretty penny? Who bore that cost if not the government? Is Anas a charitable institution?

Hmmm! But the government has now said officially that it did NOT commission Anas to do the judges investigation?

And my name is Sugar Ray Robinson. When did this government ever tell the truth about anything? How many versions of “Dumsor will end soon!” have we not heard? Has Dumsor ended? What did they say about the money pumped into GYEEDA? SADA? Do we know everything about the government’s relationship with Zoomlion? Or the National Revenue Authority? Or the National Communications Authority?
Yeee! Koo! Did we go or did we come?
Ask again. So, the question is this (and although I admire Anas very much, and support his effort to clean up the judiciary) he has to satisfy the public that he has not, as Amidu charges, compromised himself by allowing his investigation into the judiciary to be tele-guided by the government.

Is it true or not; that he has not shot footage about parliamentarians and other politicians which he has given to the government and which had not been released to the public for political reasons….

But Anas has categorically denied Amidu’s allegations in this regard?
Would you expect him to come out and admit them?
Ei – what kind of problem, then, is this?

Indeed, you need to ask. Too many unanswered questions. Some people are saying that Amidu is “jealous” of Anas and is shooting Anas down because he, Amidu, wants to be regarded as the only anti-corruption crusader in the country. But this is a man who stood up to the President (Mills) who appointed him Attorney-General, over the Woyome issue. And he was sacked.

Is it easy, in today’s Ghana, to court the loss of privileges by being sacked as a Minister?
No more bungalow?
No more officials cars
No more government-paid household help?

Yes the man did not flinch. But not only that – out of his own pocket, he pursued the Woyome case to the Supreme Court and WON the case. As we speak, the Supreme Court has asked the state to collect the GH¢51 million from Woyome.

But the state has not collected it?
No! Now when a private citizen spends his own money and tries to collect public money for the taxpayers – money which the government elected to safeguard public finances does not appear to want to collect – it gives him a certain amount of credibility. Given a man with a proven record like that and the others in the frame of this story, do you think his actions can be explained away with charges of “jealousy”?

Correct for ten points.
So, in my view, it is AMIDU: 10 Government: 0!
And you say there is also apolitical element in the story?
Well, in his long-winded manner, Amidu made a point which has been inevitably buried in the total amount of verbiage expended on the issue. He says the government, by using Anas in the way it does (allegedly commissioning Anas to investigate targeted individuals and/or groups) is creating a ”1984” society in Ghana. That means, the government can covertly collect information with which it can blackmail whoever it wants to blackmail! But because it does not use state security agencies but private individuals, that cannot constitute entrapment or other illegalities.

Now, suppose the executive wants to pass legislation which the legislature does not want to pass – and the recalcitrant MPs include some from the government party – can’t the executive orders them to pass the legislation or else…..?

My God, that could be establishing a dictatorship by constitutional means!!
Precisely! Who would be able to protect a blackmailed legislature? Especially if the information the government has collected about MPs is so explosive that they would all lose their seats if the info came out?
Koo but would Anas lend himself to a scheme like that?

But he may not be aware of the government’s full agenda! In intelligence, there is something called the unconscious agent. Such an agent can, from his own motivation, carry out tasks which a security service wants him to carry out, without ever knowing that he is doing their work for them! And, as you know, so many of our journalists are naïve. They can see the trees but not the forest. So you think Anas has thought through all the unintended consequences that could arise out of his work in exposing the corrupt judges?
– Educate me!

Okay – suppose the government uses the dismissal of so many judges to pack the judiciary with its own lackey-lawyers? Already, as you know, the Bar Association is litigating against the government over the way two Supreme Court repeat Supreme Court Justices were appointed!

If, as the Bar Association contends, the correct procedure was not observed in such important appointment, what guarantee is there that in appointing judges to fill the positions rendered vacant by the Anas investigation, it would not follow incorrect procedures?

Yieee! That would be dangerous. The executive would then be able to control BOTH the legislature and the Judiciary as well?
Correct for one hundred marks. That is the most serious conclusion to be drawn from the Amidu epistles. Yet, the general public, unable to decipher fully, what it is that he is saying, is saying things against him.

Yeah, but I don’t suppose a crusader can always expect the public to be fully behind him? But if he holds strongly enough to his ideals, the dust will eventually be cleared from the eyes of the public?

I hope that happens. For right now, all people are concerned with is that he is giving ammunition to the corrupt judges to exculpate themselves. Some are even suggesting that he might have been hired to defend some of them!

I hope he learns toBut we would be remiss to conclude, because he shows a lack of focus, that he is wrong. We have never been in the NDC’s innermost circles. Amidu has.

And as a proverb says: “If the apopokyikyi (amphibian frog) comes from within the deep waters to report that the odenkyem(crocodile) has died, who can dispute his word?