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Opinions of Thursday, 11 January 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Hurray! Here comes the citizen vigilante!

The nomination of Mr Martin Amidu by the executive for the position of the Special Prosecutor is, indeed, a befitting new year present to all patriotic Ghanaians.

Readers would bear with me that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to nation building. Therefore, corrupt officials must be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

Corruption, as a matter of fact, is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world such as Ghana that its effects are most destructive.

Given the corrosive effect of corruption, no patriotic Ghanaian should ever shrill and thrill over the spate of sleazes and corruption in the country.

Well, it would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind the narrow political lines.

I must confess, though, I was over the moon when the Supreme Court of Ghana once returned a favourable verdict in the case of Occupy Ghana versus the Auditor General . The Supreme Court made it clear that the Auditor General is obliged to retrieve the embezzled or stolen funds from the culprits without fear or favour.

Disappointingly, however, , my excitement became ephemeral, like the life span of a fly, when the Auditor General later claimed that some culprits have already returned their loots, albeit without the essential prosecutions.

Obviously, the benign and somewhat ineffective approach would not circumscribe the widespread sleazes and corruptions which have been retrogressing Ghana’s advancement thus far.

How on earth would individuals turn away from their misdeeds if the only punishment for stealing public funds is a mere plea to return the loot?

Let us be honest, much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against corruption, it is never an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with prevention and deterrence.

Regrettably, though, the justice system tends to clampdown heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and more often than not, let go the obdurate criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

Well, if we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only pay back their loots without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Verily, reported cases of political criminals misdeeds often leave concerned Ghanaians with a gleam of bewilderment.

And what is more, when it comes to the prosecutions of the political criminals, we are often made to believe: “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but it will grind exceedingly fine.”

Yet we can disappointingly recount a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other civil servants.

Where is the fairness when the political thieves could dip their hands into the national purse as if tomorrow will never come and go scot free, while the goat, cassava and plantain thieves are often locked up?

Indeed, it beggars belief that individuals could form an alliance, create, loot and share gargantuan sums of money belonging to the state and would eventually slip through the justice net.

Well, I will venture to state that the deterrence for political criminals has been extremely disappointing. For, if that was not the case, how come political criminals more often than not go through the justice net, despite unobjectionable evidence of wrong doing?

In fact, some of us cannot comprehend why the people we have entrusted with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishment.

Regrettably, despite the fact that corruption slows down the nation building, some corrupt officials are nonetheless bent on siphoning our scarce resources to the detriment of the poor.

“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish” (UN 2003).

“For the poor, women and minorities, corruption means even less access to jobs, justice or any fair and equal opportunity” (UNDP 2016).

Let us however keep our fingers cross for the arrival of the indefatigable Martin Amidu and pray that the corrupt public officials are brought to book without fear or favour.

Indeed, it will be gratifying to witness Mr Amidu exerting dint of effort and retrieving most of the stolen monies, which obviously collapsed Ghana’s economy.

We are eagerly hoping that Mr Amidu will go after the greedy politicians and other public servants who have shamefully stolen from the national purse.

Of course, the suspects and their apologists will grumble and squall over Mr Amidu’s lawful interrogations. Nevertheless, there will be no mercy for the wrong doers. We shall claw-back all the stolen monies which were meant for various developmental projects without fear or favour.

Make no mistake, the right antidote to curbing the unbridled sleazes and wanton corruption is through stiff punishments, including the retrieval of all stolen monies, sale of properties and harsh prison sentences.

It is, therefore, our fervent hope that the unwearied Mr Amidu will exert dint of effort and work assertively so as to put tabs on the almost insurmountable battle against the wanton sleazes and corruption that have delayed our development thus far.

K. Badu, UK.