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Opinions of Friday, 9 October 2015

Columnist: Enimil Ashon

Must anas remove the mask in court?

Here are some statistics – my own. Ninety per cent of all Ghanaians will swear on the holy books of their various religions and still lie without blinking. After all (they have told themselves), the God of today is a merciful God, not the God of the Old Testament era. Against these figures, consider the following – 90.9 per cent of all Ghanaians will at the shrine of river and tree gods, either not swear at all, or will swear and ensure they tell the truth. These are no-nonsense gods, and every Ghanaian knows it.

To prove corruption, you must produce evidence. The accused must have been caught in the very act with the gun smoking. Otherwise, in a country where people worship but do not fear God, one has to rely on the average Ghanaian’s fear of the sea and forest gods.

So how do we prove corruption without the likes of Antoa Nyama? Short of catching them in the very act, how do we produce evidence to show that Osimesi took bribe from Obintin? And how do we catch two people in the very act unless there is a witness—which in today’s world will be a hidden camera?


Use of moles
It is like the drugs world. The only way to catch those powerful barons in the act is for the police to pretend to be one of them. I recall the many treason trials in the Kutu Acheampong era in Ghana. The coup plots were always exposed by moles planted by the state.

The moles behave like them. I am told that those who are sent to infiltrate the ranks of drug barons go all the way, including speaking their language and actually sniffing the cocaine or smoking the marijuana if need be! How else will they be believed!

If the Criminal Codes of the world would accept the evidence of moles for use in prosecution, why should the evidence of Anas Aremeyaw Anas be differently treated? Does the Law of Evidence expect moles to go disclosing their identity and conducting interviews with visible tape recorders and cameras? So what is the alternative to subterfuge, in the case of a bribe-giver and bribe-taker, both of whom have everything to gain by non-disclosure and everything to lose by exposure?

Evidence
Don’t we all remember what became the mantra of President Kufuor: “Bring me the evidence.” His critics used it against him, including then Candidate Atta Mills (RIP). It was when the latter came into office that he discovered that talk is cheap.

Hounded and harangued by the nation, led by Ghana’s only living angel, Mr Clean, Jerry Rawlings, demanding to see “corrupt NPP functionaries” thrown into jail, Atta Mills tried but realised that the shoes were now on his, and not an opponent’s feet. What he needed was evidence that could stand up to scrutiny in court.

This country will have to start looking at our Criminal Code, in the same way as we are looking at the 1992 Constitution after less than 30 years of using it to drive our democracy. Under the present circumstances, my fear is that some court may soon be agreeing with the likes of Ndebugre and Effah Dartey who are insisting on seeing the face of Anas in court; that the evidence against their clients be not admitted in court because they were obtained through subterfuge.

Whistle­ – blowers
If whistle-blowers (and I insist that Anas is one) are to be unmasked to the people against whom they are blowing a whistle, who will ever get himself recruited into that group? If the law is made for the general well-being of the society, then the law needs to be amended to protect the interests of people who lay down their lives for the society. To unmask Anas is to seek to physically eliminate him.

Entrapment? How can the rat be entrapped if it refuses to walk into the trap though it smells the bait? Christians are supposed to be “dead to sin”: sin no longer attracts them. Take the case of the famous womaniser (he’d sleep with every woman who crossed his path). When he died in a motor accident, his body was among a pile heaped at one corner of the mortuary. The man’s body was between two women, but the nakedness of the women could not attract him: he was dead. He could not be trapped.

If Anas had been unmasked in his earlier work, as Effah Dartey and Ndebugre are asking for, how could this country have benefited from the exposé of that company at Tema that was making biscuits with weevil-infested flour; that bribes were being offered in exchange for driver’s licences at DVLA; that security agents were being bribed to look the other way as cocoa was smuggled into La Cote d’Ivoire?
I am not, by this argument, suggesting that the likes of Effah Dartey and Ndebugre are only interested in their stomachs.

This argument is saying that because the Law is the Law, it is possible some judges may buy the argument being raised by the lawyers and rule that Anas should be unmasked or that the evidence is not admissible because it was obtained through entrapment. Remember the case of “55” cigarettes that went against the state because the charge sheet by the prosecution should have read “555” cigarettes. This was in the early 1980s under Rawlings.

The law was, and is the Law. That is why it must be looked at again in the light of what we want to achieve by it for the entire society.