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Opinions of Friday, 1 February 2013

Columnist: Appiah, Kofi

Now Is The Hour, Supreme Court -Part 1

Incidentally, Sunday, June 30, 2013, will be the 31st anniversary celebration of the Martyrs’ Day in Ghana. Just as Uganda too celebrates her martyrs’ day annually, hers is connected with the genocide of some group of tribesmen who were slaughtered en masse by the white masters and that must have accounted and gingered them to pave way by acting as a catalyst for independence. It probably led to the swift attainment of self rule to gain independence from the colonialists in the 60s. Unlike the Ugandans, Ghana’s version of the martyrs’ day came about as a result of the fair judgment that some of our honest, impartial, dedicated and distinguished judges determined to give in a case that involved some group of persons – for the purposes of Ghanaians under 30 years of age, foreigners and novices alike i.e. it was workers of GIHOC – Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation - and the military government of the day – the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) with Chairman Jerry Rawlings in the saddle. The stage was set and the military junta was woefully defeated on technicalities and that impregnated and later hatched the wicked and barbarous action that ensued on June 30, 1982.


In our case, it was not foreign mercenaries but our own compatriots who clandestinely and cruelly masterminded the heinous murder of the three distinguished high court judges and the Army Major, Sam Acquah, the then Personnel Manager as sacrificial lambs in cold blood. Pity isn’t it? Justices Cecilia Koranteng Addow, (then a 6-weeek old nursing mother), Sarkodie and Agyepong became the victims of that dastard inhuman treatment. As high court judges there and then, the three personalities could have been Supreme Court judges today or retired as such within the spate of 30 years if premature death had not laid its icy hands on them. Allegedly, their brutal murder had the mastermind of the powers that be; because, since the late Joachim Amartey Kwei, a leading member of the PNDC, was by no means privy to it, no sane person could convince anybody to dissociate the government from the orchestrated bestial act. A book entitled ‘The Judges’ Murder Trial of 1983’ written by one George Kwaku Agyekum, a leading member and chairman of the Tribunal that tried the suspects J. Amartey Kwei, L/Cpl. S. Kwame Amedeka, L/Cpl. Michael Senya, Johnny Dzandu and Tony Tekpor clearly testifies that evidence in the Case No. 24/83. Other members of the public tribunal were Mad. Comfort Esther Afua Doe, S/Sgt. Mumuni Seidu, Jenkins Kofie, L/Cpl. Mumuni Seidu and L/Cpl. Moses Tonka while Mrs. Joyce Bamford Addo was then the Acting DPP. In addition, Mr.G.E.K. Aikins was the Attorney-General. The author does not really want to, nor intend to rake the already healed wounds of the bereaved families and dear ones but would like the youth of today know about the forgotten history of the sordid past of the slain judges and the major; and more importantly, the predicament of the judicial service and its judges without whom the institution wouldn’t have been there. As the martyrs’ day has gradually become an annual affair, thanks to the Kufuor Administration through whose instrumentality this Day has been established as remembrance day, it is imperative therefore that they also (these 9 judges) set unparalleled and unprecedented record never before set on the continent to speak the truth.


Just as a portion of the famous and celebrated Dr. Ephraim Amu’s song entitled, ‘Yen ara asase ni, eye aboo denden ma yen, mogya na nananom hwiee gu nya de too ho ma yen’ continues with . . . “Aduru me ne wo nso so, se ye beye bi atoa so, nimdee ntra so kotokrane ne apese me nko menya, adi yen bra mu dem, ama yen asaase yi ato mu see”, the subsequent chorus is repeated twice - ‘Oman no se ebeye yie, oman no se ennye yie, eye nsennaho se amanfoo bra na ekyere’ – it therefore behoves on the judiciary to also set an exemplary character without fear or favour so as to be recognized, immortalized and truly remembered one day when they were dead and gone. It is however hoped and believed that the panel of 9 judges that has been empanelled by Her Ladyship, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, presided over by Justice Atuguba, would equally stand up to the task ahead and be counted amongst the world’s best as heroes/heroines to follow the footsteps of their forbearers.
In the same vein the break or make of Ghana and moreover, the entire destiny of Ghanaians rested on the integrity and shoulders of Dr. Afari Djan, but, as arrogant as he is, boisterously threw it to the dogs because Ghanaians’ usual traditional national anthem, ‘Fa ma Nyame syndrome’ i.e. just give everything to God and let sleeping dogs lie was so expectant but never came from the vanquished as the case alleged to be involved with enormous criminality was sent to the court for redress as the final arbiters. By law, they are to ensure that justice was seen to be administered to soften the volatile situation otherwise, what wasn’t expected to happen in Ghana, could easily turn around and over -take the whole country by surprise. The writer has no knowledge in soothsaying but your guess could be as good as his. The Akan saying, “se brebre ammma a, anka ammanee ammma” literally translated in English as thus – Which of the two is to blame? Is it the one who brought sugar-cane home or the housefly that threw an invitation to its numerous friends to the sugar-cane party in that house? Furthermore, they should bear in mind that it was as a result of fair and impartial judgment without fear or favour that cost the precious lives of their seniors. In that case, they should also try to emulate that shining example for the world to know that indeed, our judicial system was not fraught with timidity nor corruption, but right on track to kowtow anybody let alone countenance any shred of manipulation from the government of the day because their duty was to serve Mother Ghana and not to satisfy the whims and caprices of any single individual.


In a case between the government of Ghana, i.e. the Republic versus Mr. E.K. Sallah, the then General Manager of the GNTC during which the within-named was reportedly sacked by the government with Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia as prime minister, the former sent the purported unlawful dismissal case to the law court for redress. During the ensuing legal process, it was evident that the complain -ant would win his case and that prompted the premier to rush to make some ugly noises to dent his political image by shouting hoarse from the roof tops thus – “no court, no court, indicating that as far as he was concerned and as long as he remained the prime minister of the republic, certainly, no, repeat no court in this country had the guts or jurisdiction to continue sitting on that particular case. Many people including the layman on the street and the legal fraternity thought the untenable manner the prime minister reacted to nullify the legal procedures then ongoing, to deprive that public servant in that civil suit, must have accounted for a decline in his democratic credentials. That really must have incurred the displeasure of many people in and outside the country. And this should probably be a test case for future law students to flex their muscles. While this electoral fraud case was quite different from that of the GNTC scenario, it is assumed that the Supreme Court would be the first to admit and quickly dispose of the case to leave it to rest naturally to set the hearts of majority of Ghanaians at peace.


However, the following are some salient points the three Ghanaians contesting the case in court must base their arguments to win the favour from the learned jurists :

i) It has always been a crime to take advantage of incumbency to win elections but certainly, politicians in this part of the world have on many occasions glossed over this aspect to bulldoze their way to many a time, win elections with false pretences.
ii) Certainly, there have been some instances that the incumbent has used the military to fly jet fighters to the hinterlands to frighten the village folks to the extent that failure by the electorates to vote for one’s particular party might warrant the destruction of their villages, farms and its produce and poisoning their river bodies.

iii) Equally of importance is the ploy by which the incumbent used the police and the military to intimidate the populace was also another fraudulent mechanism that was unacceptable in any civilized society worldwide.

iv) Except, the physically handicapped persons like the blind, deaf and dumb who may not know exactly what was going on in the country, but to quickly dispatch a team of armed police (whether plain-clothed or whatever) to the campaign office of another contestant with the intention of seizing valuable documents and electoral strategies was a very criminal offence of the highest order that must not be entertained and swept under the carpet so easily.
v) Another aspect of very high criminality and fraudulent intent was the means the incumbent was purported to have used its communication outlet to gag or disrupt the mouthpiece of the opposition’s strong telecommunication network was equally unacceptable anywhere in the world. That means is queer and could only be a crude method that probably was in vogue during the Dark Age or Stone Age eras. The government cannot explicitly dissociate itself from complicity in the NCA’s technical department’s (near the South Africa High Commission at Labone Estates, Accra) gagging process whereby Oman FM and NET 2 channel/network respectively, specifically were both jammed by the misfits out there.
vi) The huge display of monetary gifts to the electorates countrywide is also testamentary evidence of fraud and the government cannot defend itself of not using state resources or dishing its hands into the national kitty (purse). Mr. Kwabena Dufuor, did you hear that? Not until you are dead and gone, one day, surely, not sooner than later, you’d be called upon to answer for your criminal intent and complicity in this electoral fraud, trust me.
vii) That as a result of all these enumerated fraudulent practices, the State must have lost some colossal debts which Ghanaians yet unborn, and through no fault of theirs, might be called upon to pay to be able to live a decent life after this generation has phased off.
viii) That since the conduct or otherwise of Dr. Afari Djan and his accomplices constituted a criminal intent, that action or inaction could best be described in the legal terms as ‘treason’ because Ghana could have been in flames by now if not but for the wisdom and foresighted -ness of the leadership of the opposition parties.
ix) That if Dr. Afari Djan was proved beyond reasonable doubt that in fact this charge being preferred against him found him guilty, the distin -guished jury or panel of judges should never ever spare him the rod but to jail him and show him the entry point of the four walls of the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons to serve as a better lesson to all future occupants of the Electoral Commission chair.
x) That in pursuant to the declaration and/or the pronouncement of the final verdict, the unqualified should be told that it was by an accident that he was declared the winner of the just ended elections to forestall peace.
How many Ghanaians think that they are wiser and more sensible than their brothers/sisters from Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire? Whatever the answer is please keep it to yourself. The author is neither a soothsayer nor a doomsday prophet who has landed on the Ghanaian soil today. Please help me find an easy answer to the cheating that took place during the days of Isaac in the Bible. Many Christians know the scriptures about how Madam Rebecca helped to outwit the husband Isaac to transfer the heir apparent position to Jacob instead of Esau. Regular readers of the Bible know how Rebecca cleverly and cunningly helped switch the hierarchy position from the father and the devastating effect on Jacob, the beneficiary. What do you think would have happened to Jacob if he had not fled to his uncle Laban for refuge? Would it not have ended the life of Jacob if he had not with the decision of the wicked mother fled to Laban in a distant place for out of sight is out of mind? Do you again see how he had to go through some tough ordeals before and after he had left his tradition home? How many readers think that Rebecca did not play the wicked and criminal part of Afari Djan in this biblical scenario?
Are conscience and intellect bedfellows? Certainly, not! They are quite apart and have no relationship in anyway whatsoever. Both can be separable and have no bearing with education at all. Fellow countrymen and women, as the men and women of the Supreme Court are mortal beings born of woman, definitely they may be infallible; but that does not mean that their infallibility should however transcend the borders of conscience. As human beings, occasionally, they may make mistakes but whatever mistakes they make should not and never be so glaring that even the blind would be able to notice. Birds of the same feather, they say, flock together. If this saying is anything to by then, the panelists should know that their forebears (Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, Agyepong and Sarkodie) then as High Court judges in 1982,could have been in similar positions as Supreme Court judges today if death, as it were, had not laid its icy hands on them by foul and wicked means. Some of you or many of you may not have been judges then; and even if you were, may have been judges at the magistrate or the circuit courts. This allusion is not by any means trying to impugn your individual capabilities or integrity but the situation has arisen for the necessary comparison to be made to lay bare the claim that you were their subordinates in service. As final arbiters, the Good Lord expects justice from all of you without exception. However, these men and woman of integrity and valour, defied all odds and gave a good account of themselves for which the Martyrs’ Day (June 30) was instituted and is celebrated every year to commemorate their sordid abduction, blindfolding, cruel murder and final burning of their corpses at Bundase, near Dahwenya on the Accra-Aflao road. Surprisingly, there was an unexpected torrential rainfall to quench the blazing fire but even though before their bodies were discovered by a certain Fulani herdsman, they were all charred beyond human comprehension and description. The Good Lord showed his powers by pouring torrential rain to stop the horrible cruelty.
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It is hoped that readers will spare some time off their busy schedule to read this long essay to quench their thirst and refresh their memories. Please read along and have an informed opinion as to how our judges should tackle the case.
Ghana could more or less be at the brink of collapse should your judgment have an atom of bias. The break or make of Ghana now hinges on your collective integrity. As men and women of the Supreme Court are naturally endowed with wisdom, conscience and more so, intellect, it would generally be naïve and abnormally absurd to give judgment that would forever remain as an indelible imprint and/or incredible landmark to haunt this Nation Ghana for many years to come. Never ever does the author think that with your status in society, you’d be cajoled to condone and connive to support wrongdoing to close your eyes to disappoint majority of Ghanaians to give an impartial judgment yet, forewarned is forearmed. You should be advised somehow and handled like the plantain in fire; any slight oversight, you might turn into charcoal. But mind you, my very respected jury; there should not be any under-estimation here to exaggerate that our brothers and sisters from Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire are not the children of God. They are all just like Ghanaians. And there shouldn’t be any gainsaying here that they are war-mongers. Far from it! Natural justice must always prevail to allow for peace for without justice, there would obviously be no peace. The moment justice, repeat, natural justice, is denied and perverted, believe you me, that there would be an eruption of telepathic evolution of all and sundry and that is a fact for we are all living witnesses to the Egyptian, Libyan, Tunisian, and Syrian civilian unrests.
Do readers still remember the 1994 Rwanda Genocide that probably has become a taboo in that country? For those who do not know but care to know now, it is quite simple. The murder of the Rwandese president who was then a Hutu allegedly by the Tutsis of the minority group inflamed passions and that triggered and conflagrated into a civil war that consumed some 1.5 million souls from both groups – the Tutsis and the Hutus within a spate of time. History records that the minority Tutsis occupy almost all the major civil and public positions in that country (the head of this, the head of that, the chief director of this, the chief director of that, the CEO of this, the CEO of that) and not until today as you read this piece, things have changed and normalized by way of the official portfolios, then God save the Queen. The situation would not be farfetched from that of Ghana and nobody should raise a finger here. Then continuing, the electoral fraud and malfeasance in neighbouring La Cote d’Ivoire also culminated in the civil war that has landed the power-drunk, power-hungry and blood-thirsty Laurent Gbagbo in the hands of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The incorrigible Charles Taylor now faces a jail term of 50 years and one wonders whether he could ever finish this seemingly indefinite term to return to Monrovia. I could go on and on. Hope readers still remember the story about General Pinochet of Chile? After he had outlashed his compatriots and become a retiree, attention later focused on him to face the full rigours of the law. The word of advice here is that before the honourable court takes their seats, they should always remember at the back of their minds of the Martyrs Day and its symbolic significance to their fraternity. It would only be idiotic for someone to say that Ghanaians were cowards. And it would only be someone living on the Planet Mars who would not challenge if he were cheated like biblical Esau supposedly with the connivance of his mother when power of authority was cunningly transferred to undeserved Jacob. This undeserved transfer would perpetually create acrimony and lifelong rivalry between the two feuding factions.
For the information of the SC there is rumour mill doing the rounds that some suspected unknown persons have started unlimited treks to the precincts of Nana Akufo Addo’s house. The rumour may or may not be true but in Ghana, every rumour has an atom of truth in it. The logical conclusion here could be that if and when the ruling favours Nana Akufo Addo and by the time the verdict was pronounced he was dead or had been assassinated (MAY GOD FORBID 100 TIMES) by unknown assailants, presumably, by supporters or hired agents or assigns of the other faction, the rightful winner’s party would have no leader but to put the country into the oblivion. In the nutshell, therefore, the writer would be pleased if special caution would be given to the government by the SC to either offer him special security or dissociate itself from this diabolic act.
As if it was by design or an accident; Ghana’s Coat of Arms has the inscription, ‘Freedom and Justice’ embossed in it. That wasn’t to me an accident at all by our freedom fighters i.e. the Big Six – that has Nana Akufo Addo as the only Ghanaian now with the roots from three of them – son of the late Edward Akufo Addo, the ceremonial president during the 2nd Republic when Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia was the premier; again, Nana is the nephew of the famous Paa Willie who was better known as William Ofori Atta of the United National Convention (UNC) fame that broke away from the Popular Front Party led by Victor Owusu; and finally, he is the grandson of the inarguable Doyen of Ghana Politics, Dr. J.B. Danquah. As it has been mentioned earlier above, the decision by our fore -fathers to ensure the inscription “freedom and justice” was by no means an accident but a very well thought of one. They had the foresight; they were forthright, they were upright in whatever they did and it is now our time and turn to continue with the good works from where they left off vis-à-vis the Dr. Ephraim Amu’s song referred to in one of the above paragraphs. No labourer from the P.W.D. section ever goes to take his salary from the Education ministry at the end of the month. Any slightest departure or intentional deviation from that would not, and never for a second, be countenanced and all should know that it would definitely be resisted fiercely or by whatever means available to the defenceless masses, so a word to the wise, is enough. The SC should be circumspect and mindful when they compare notes as to the crucial verdict that probably would be the No.1 in a fiercely contested democratic election in Africa devoid of blood-letting.

A story is told of a crafty school boy who managed to catch a very beautiful, multi-coloured butterfly. He was so fascinated that what readily came to mind was to take the insect to the school and quiz his class teacher to find out whether his teacher was indeed and really someone who was well cut to be his teacher. This little boy arrived at the classroom late. Because he was late for school, he could not attend the usual morning assembly of the whole school children. As a result of the lateness, the teacher decided to punish him by writing some lines as a way of punishment. This little unsung boy, out of the blue, mustered courage, still with his new found insect in his palm. The next moment, all the whole class could hear was the boy’s humiliating statement thus, ‘Please teacher, I know that you are my teacher; I would be pleased and prepared to write the lines as my punishment but before then, to prove to me that you are my class-teacher capable of teaching me to pass my final exam without any qualms, I’d also like to quiz you before I begin with your harsh punishment. The teacher then asked him to go ahead with his puzzle. Then the boy rose up with the butterfly in hand and said, teacher, I want you to tell me whether the butterfly that I have in my hand was dead or alive. For a brief spell of time, the teacher, in a very pensive mood and motionless, hesitated and finally came back with a very genuine and tantalizing answer – ‘Kofi, I want to tell you that if I said that the butterfly in your palm now was alive, you would crush it in your hand and open your palm to shame me whereas if I said that it was also dead, you’d open your palm and let it go to create laughter in the class. So the best answer to your puzzle was that the life of this butterfly that has become the centre of controversy between us is entirely in your own hands. Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court, today, the precious life of Ghana or more especially, the destiny of Ghana and Ghanaians is like the butterfly in that school boy’s hand. It is entirely in your own majestic and delicate hands. By your collective decision, and in your own wisdom, you can make or break it but, it is expected that the SC would, undoubtedly, never fail in its duty. To conclude, please turn with me to the Book of James 3:5-10 “So it is with the tongue: small as it is, it can boast about great things. Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame! 6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong, occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It sets on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself. 7 Man is able to tame and has tamed all other creatures – wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 8 But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison. 9 We use it togive thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse our fellow-man, who is created in the likeness of God. 10 Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My brothers, this should not happen”! Whatever judgment that comes out from the mouth of Justice Atuguba as the presiding judge of the SC will be by the help of his tongue. A word to the wise here is enough. This is the time and now is certainly the hour or never. I am done.
If after thorough investigations, the SC finds that Dr. Afari Djan was the principal architect and partner-in-crime, he should be compelled to divulge information about his other accomplices. On the other hand, if he decides not to disclose the names of the other members of the syndicate to be severally charged, he should be singularly charged for treason if that legal terminology was the best suitable for this particular criminal case. His action/inaction could therefore have set Ghana ablaze. However, if there were other accomplices, they should be arraigned before court and, jointly and severally, charged for treason because their inordinate ambition and subsequent action wasn’t far from any criminality than to usurp the constitutional rights and mandate of Ghanaians. Their aim was to ensure that our votes did not matter in this context – vis-à-vis the clarion call for the ‘let my vote count’ campaign. A military friend says if a serving soldier commits a grievous offence tantamount to a coup d’etat, he was court marshaled and then charged as a nation wrecker; if two were caught for the same or similar offence, they were charged for conspiracy whereas if three or more military persons got caught for similar wrongdoing, they were charged for mutiny and the preferred charges and punishment given to them was sentence to death by firing squad. It is obvious Dr. Afari Djan would not disclose the names of his other friends. If he decides to hide their identity(ies), then he should muster courage like ex-president Jerry Rawlings in May 1979 when he and some 8 NCOs were charged for mutiny; he accepted responsibility for the treasonable offence at the peril of his life and sacrificed at their expense to take blame for the NCOs to be left off the hook. Since Dr. Afari Djan is a civilian, and the rule of law was still in vogue, he would not be sentenced to death and shot by firing squad but to be properly charged for treason in your competent court during this trial. If he is found guilty, as he has already admitted (registration of minors, false figures and the discrepancy in the number of those who voted abroad etc.) and is captured or recorded on tape, if he is found guilty, for which he cannot extricate himself and absolved from blame, that alone could be provided in your court as lead prosecution evidence, that might necessitate a minimum jail term of not less than 25 years or more. In conclusion, now is the hour, Supreme Court, for your judges especially, those nine slated for the ‘Mother of all Cases’ to justify the inclusion of their names to be possibly and inarguably knighted later by Queen Elizabeth II of England for the honour that would be done her (by trying to save her the ordeal of an inevitable civil war) and to be accordingly immortalized together with other distinguished Ghanaians who, already, have their names printed in gold on a clean sheet for a place in the Guinness Book of Records. This will help relegate the Ghanaian ‘norm and axiom’ that all judges were corrupt to the periphery.
As I have always concluded my articles with biblical quotations, this one would not be different from the previous ones. The scripture is taken from 1 Kings 20:1 – 9 and the whole context centres round a war between Syria and Samaria (Israel). I hope readers will read to know what happened; and it was in the course of event that the leaders of Samaria advised King Ahab to be courageous to say enough was enough to King Benhadad of Syria and, never, never again would he continue to tolerate the incessant intimidation and arrogance from him. In the Ghanaian context, the 2008 election was tolerated and allowed to pass under the bridge but the gargantuan falsifications in connection with the 2012 election and its attendant fraudulent practices and mischief involving the stakeholders should not and never be glossed over. NEVER, EVER, AGAIN! Whenever the fool wizens up, then that signifies the end of the game.
HUMOUR - Why would some people like to create sensation to immortalize their names with the ‘villain of the peace’ tag, e.g. John here, John there, John everywhere or John is involved in this, John is involved in that, and John is involved in everything. Why?

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