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Opinions of Saturday, 6 July 2013

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Judges are not Angels and Saints

It was not for nothing that the Almighty God gave mankind special senses to speak, touch, see, hear, and smell. In fact, when these senses, in addition to one's common sense, work to perfection, it enables others to see the clear difference between mankind and other animals. In the light of the above, all nations and institutions, including the United Nations provide the necessary environment conducive for free speech and expression to thrive.

It would therefore be morally and legally wrong for any person or institution to use his powers in a way to prevent others from enjoying these fundamental human rights. Even in societies where certain people cannot express themselves openly because there are impairments to their sights, mouths etc, special needs are provided by the state to enable them cope with normal life.

Why should people be professionally intimidated to keep their mouths shut as if we were living under military dictatorship? To suppress free speech, according to Frederick Douglass, is a double wrong. For it violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. This is the message that must be sent to the Supreme Court of Ghana.

From the recent judgements passed unto Messrs Sammy Awuku and Ken Kuranchie, it seems to me that our eminent Supreme Court Judges are behaving like angels and saints, who cannot falter in their decisions and judgements. But, if our Judges believe that they are fallible mortal souls like all Ghanaians, then they should take it easy when some of their judgements are criticised constructively.

Our Supreme Court Judges must admit that not all their decisions could be right or perfect at all times, hence the need to accommodate certain opinions expressed by the very people they are mandated to protect. The fact that most of their decisions are not unanimous clearly tells you that opinions differ among people. Which of the Supreme Court Judges would serve his child a very delicious meal and asks the child to eat but not to his full satisfaction?

You tell the whole world that the petition case before you would be beamed live for the world to see how transparent and fair you are. You get applause from all parties, barring members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Then you turn round to send people into jail because some of your decisions have been seen by others as "hypocritical" and "selective". So when could such adjectives be used and against who - teachers, nurses, farmers, students? You cannot have your cake and eat it.

It must be pointed out that hypocrites, wicked, bad, bias, etc are adjectives that could be used against human beings and our judges are no exception. Personally, I think if this trend continues, it would amount to Culture of Silence. This would be a great setback to our young democracy because our freedom of speech would vanish.

Do our Supreme Court Judges expect all Ghanaians to shower praises on them all the time with regard to their decisions? Assuming Katakyie Ken Agyei Kuranchie had praised them in the said publication, could he have been sentenced to 10 days imprisonment?

Admittedly, we expect all Ghanaians to be circumspect in their pronouncements, publications, and actions. We also believe in strong institutions because that is the only way our democracy could grow and our fundamental human rights protected. But, do we live in our ideal world? If our institutions - the Electoral Commission, Judiciary, Parliament, Executive, Statistical Services, Ghana Revenue Authority etc were perfect, Prez Obama wouldn't have called for the need for African countries to build strong institutions in lieu of strong men during his last visit to Ghana.

Katakyie Ken, never lose hope for you have fought a good fight. Those of us who know you from Opoku Ware Akatakyie School (OWASS) could testify to your bravery. You stood for your principles and have suffered for that. That is a mark of a true Katakyie, a Mighty Warrior.

May Allah protect you in all your endeavours, and I do hope that you would be back stronger than before. Remember, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, His Excellency, J.A. Kufuor, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Malik Kweku Baako etc had passed through this stage in their lifetimes. It is a sign of greater things to come. Ken, you are not alone. We are with you in spirit.

In winding down, I would say that the ultimate power/authority of the state resides not in the Judiciary, Executive, or Parliament, but in the good people of Ghana. We elect both the president of Ghana, and Members of Parliament, the president in turn appoints the Chief Justice and Supreme Court Judges, as well as Ministers of State. Any interpretation of the law by the Judiciary should therefore be geared towards the guarantee of the inalienable rights of the Ghanaian citizenry. Therefore, as to whether Ken Kuranchie wants to be a hero or not is none of the businesses of our respected Supreme Court Judges. As we had heroes and heroines in the past by their convictions, bravery, honesty, so shall we have some today and the ensuing years. The fair adjudication of this ongoing mother of all cases could even make heroes and heroines out of the 9 panel judges. Judges, like any Ghanaian, are not beyond criticisms.

God bless Ghana! God bless Ken Kuranchie!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang,

Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri (Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) katakyienpp@yahoo.co.uk 0202471070 : 0264931361