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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Is NDC really preparing the ground to pardon convicted public officials?

Unfortunately, following the recent conviction of two of the many corrupt public officials in the erstwhile NDC administration (as detailed in the Auditor General’s annual reports), there have been persistent cavorting and incoherent remarks by the NDC faithful.

“It is unfortunate but I can only say that this will not dampen the spirit of the NDC. Between 2001 and 2004, they sentenced Tsatsu Tsikata, Dan Abodakpi, Ibrahim Adam and Kwame Peprah. It did not stop us from winning elections in 2008. We are going to win the elections and bring Abuga Pele out,” Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye told Accra based Citi FM.

But in a swift repartee, though destitute of honesty and integrity, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is somehow seeking to disassociate itself from the seemingly disgusting comments by the Member of Parliament for Odododiodoo that the party will release the former national Coordinator of GYEEDA, Abuga Pele, if it recaptures power in the 2020 general elections.

Well, that could not be true because the remission of sentences of convicts affiliated to NDC is nothing new. However preposterous the MP’s statement may sound, it has been the party’s official position. Indeed, the NDC Member of Parliament was only echoing the party’s bizarre position of pardoning impenitent criminals loyal to the party.

Let us therefore admit that it won’t be anything out of the ordinary if the future NDC government decides to grant pardon to convicted public officials affiliated to the National Democratic Congress.

If we take a stroll down memory lane, prior to the 2016 election, the NDC loyalists, including substantive ministers of state, blissfully lined up, unblushingly signed a petition, and with unabashed disgust, beseeched Ex-President Mahama to remit the four-month prison sentence handed to the ever strident Montie FM host, Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe and two of his panelists who were convicted of contempt and sentenced accordingly by the Supreme Court.

It is believed that Ex-President Mahama took the idiosyncratic decision following a petition signed by a host of top public officials and other NDC functionaries, who appalled the idea of their own being locked up for committing cognisable offence, and hence moved heaven and earth to get them out of prison.

The general belief at the time was that a host of top officials in Mahama’s government who endorsed the petition forced his hand to remit the sentences of the three boisterous brats who were affiliated to the National Democratic Congress.

In retrospect, Mugabe and his two panelists, Alistair Nelson, and Godwin Ako Gunn were sentenced to serve four months in prison for revoltingly threatening the lives of Justices of the Supreme Court.

Unsurprisingly, Ex-President Mahama’s weird and somewhat absolutist decision to remit the sentences of the impolitic Montie three sparked enormous indignation across the country with the vast majority of discerning Ghanaians rightly ventilating their arousing disgust and reprimanding the President for setting a bad precedent and somehow sabotaging the work of the judiciary.

As a matter of fact, in a constitutional democracy such as ours, our presidents powers are guided by the constitution and their limits are clearly stated. Suffice it to state that the remission of convicts’ sentences is encapsulated in the Constitution of Ghana (Article 72). But the all-important question then is: must such provision be used capriciously and discriminately?

Corollary, however, Ghana’s 1992 Constitution has conferred prerogative powers on our presidents. By inference, they wield some constitutional absolutism such as the Article 72 which allows our presidents to pardon even convicted murderers.

Apparently, it is the same constitutional absolutism that he, Ex-President Mahama, exercised in the remission of the convicted Montie three, which many discerning Ghanaians saw as capricious, discriminatory and abuse of power.

Believe it or not, President Mahama somehow divided the nation following his controversial decision to free the three Montie boisterous brats amidst public outrage.

Ex-President Mahama and his NDC administration uncharacteristically ignored the concerns of the majority of Ghanaians, took a narrow party position and went with the few NDC brassbound loyalists to the disgust of the well-meaning Ghanaians.

But who says that the ‘yentie obia’ NDC would not do it again if presented with another opportunity?