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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Columnist: ASP James Annan

Justice for Major Mahama must end the culture of mob action

The heart of many bled when the footage on the gruesome murder of Major Maxwell Adam Mahama went viral. The army officer met his untimely death at Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region while on operational duties in that area.

The young major, then captain, who was with the 5th Infantry Battalion (5BN), was accused of being an armed robber while on his daily jogging routine in plain clothes.

Subsequently, some residents of that community attacked and lynched him instantly. The video of this barbaric act traumatised many Ghanaians and sparked public outrage.

It was reported that the Major was killed as a result of mistaken identity, as the residents suspected him to be part of a robbery gang that stormed the town few days ago.

In any case, they have no right to take the life of their fellow human in such dastardly manner. That was inhumane, evil and senseless. What has become of the Ghanaian hospitality and love for peace?

The pervasive culture of extrajudicial action, commonly known as mob action or instant justice, has become a phenomenon in our society, since most Ghanaians perpetrate such criminal act with impunity.

For instance, the sudden shout of “thief” in any Ghanaian community is enough to mass up a mob that come out prepared with stones, sticks, machetes and other harmful objects to assault the alleged criminal.

Mob justice can take the form of flogging, slashing, stoning and lynching. Sometimes suspects are stripped naked and set ablaze. This practice is an affront to human dignity and the rule of law, to say the least.

Cases

Most Ghanaians perceive mob justice as the fastest way of punishing criminals due to lack of public confidence in the Criminal Justice System but it is not justifiable for any group of persons to take the law into their own hands.



Besides, the law states that no one is guilty until proven guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction. It is a fact that justice delayed is justice denied, but instant justice is not the best solution.

In 2007 a 38-year-old hospital administrator, Mr Anthony Yeboah Boateng, was murdered by a mob who accused him of murder at Atronie in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

Like Major Mahama, he was mistaken to be part of a criminal gang involved in alleged serial murders in that area. Mr Boateng was then conveying the corpse of his mother-in-law to the Goaso Government Hospital.

His attempt to explain to the mob that he was innocent rather aggravated their anger, especially because they spotted a corpse in his vehicle.



The 1992 Constitution of Ghana admonishes that the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable, and that no one shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Most Ghanaians are still traumatised about the cruel manner in which the army officer was murdered. In fact, the entire nation was stunned when the horrific video clip hit social media.

Consequently, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and other statesmen including former Presidents JJ Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama issued separate statements condemning the shameful act on a fellow mankind.

Just to play the devil’s advocate. Why didn’t we accord much attention to other citizens who were murdered through mob justice in the past?

If we, as a country, had taken pragmatic steps to collectively deal with this uncultured practice, I don’t think the Ghana Army would have lost such a young promising officer.

In an interview, the father of the deceased officer, Captain Chubby Adam Mahama (retired), promised to establish a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in memory of his late son.

The retired army officer added that the NGO will, among others, launch a campaign to fight the increasing spate of mob justice in the country. He won my heart when he admitted that the abhorrent murder of his first son should be the last in Ghana.

The arrest of same of those who allegedly masterminded the lynching of Major Mahama is a relief.

In the same vein, the residents of Tindongo in the Upper East Region who stoned a 67-year-old woman after she was accused of being a witch must be brought to justice without delay.



The old lady, Yednboka Keena, was coincidentally lynched the same day Major Mahama died. Some indigenes in the community alleged that the deceased was the cause of several misfortunes in their life.

Campaign

It is about time the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) embarked on a massive campaign in collaboration with the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to make mob justice unpopular in our society.

It is unfortunate that some disturbing footages and pictures of the dead are being circulated via social media. Captain Mahama was a patriot and he deserves our utmost respect.

At least let us be sensitive about the emotional trauma of his wife, family and friends by putting an end to these circulations.

I join thousands across the country to commiserate with the bereaved family of Captain Mahama. Let us say no to mob justice, and allow the rule of law to take its full course.

This unfortunate development must be a wake-up call to all stakeholders concerned. Mob action is criminal and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

Justice for Major Mahama and the recent victims of mob must put an end to this barbaric and lawless act. Fare thee well Captain; “damirifa due, due ne amenehunu”.

The writer is with the Ghana Prisons Service.

Writer’s E-mail : jamesannan2006@gmail.com