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Opinions of Monday, 29 March 2010

Columnist: Akyeampon, Nana

Otumfour's Prescription: A Jungle Antidote To A Jungle Overdose

Peace is not the Absence of Tension but the Presence of Justice – Luther King Jnr

This case has exposed the weaknesses in our current political and security set up. It seems people who are already prejudiced against the Otumfuo took advantage to insult him without taking a holistic look at the precarious nature of the case. Security personnel must realise there is a subconscious reverence for our culture and the entire chieftaincy, its relevance and huge influence even today. Chieftaincy may not have a constitutional preeminence but at the subtle level its power is still active just like the moving powers of religion and even political fanaticism.

Let’s look at the facts of this case. In the 21st century a man (a chief actually) is unlawfully arrested by guards of another man (now referred to as 'good Samaritans' by Techimanhene) nowhere but in the premises of a law court and no police or security personnel saw this, neither did they come across any police checkpoint to be questioned over an obvious kidnapping. He is maltreated in a palace for hours in the presence of modern day 21st century Techimanians, yet none of them had the sense to raise an alarm. Yes this happened in the 21st century! This could happen to any other Ghanaian. There was a horrible systemic failure of National Security here and this is alarming. Police are later brought in to arrest the victim not the perpetrators. All the assaults had gone unpunished and sadly security Capo says he wasn’t even aware until Otumfour spoke. Are we safe? If this happened to a chief what then can happen to an ordinary citizen? The worst of it all is the alleged impunity with which the Techimanhene boasted that his government is in power. This would annoy every other Ghanaian with a thirst for justice, fairness and equality. Where had freedom and justice run to?

Otumfour's reaction

What really did otumfour say? If otumfour was for war and as primitive as people are claiming then in accordance with tradition he would have declared war the very first day the incidence occurred. He waited for the national institutions to act. He waited for more than 10 days and not even an invitation or a single statement taken from the Techimanhene. What a sad precedence of impunity. A paramount chief of the calibre of Nana Techimanhene had obviously used a 'Rambo' style thuggish criminal approach to kidnap and assault. Who is being more primitive and breaching the law here? The Techimanhene or the Asantehene who asked for him to be called to order? The delay and apparent inaction of security personnel and the silence of government gave an impression of credibility and proof to the tantrums of Techimanhene that indeed nothing is being done because his government is in power. Justice must not just be done; it must be seen as being done. As Ghanaians have we forgotten that it was similar reasoning that led to the Dagbon massacre and the subsequent demise of the Ya-Na where a group of disillusioned people took the law into their own hands with the hope that the ruling government will shield them? Is this the way we want to go as a nation? Party members must realise they have a responsibility to act in a manner not to embarrass their governments or bring their parties into disrepute and political parties must have the decency and the courage to ensure discipline and orderliness. What do we however see in the case of Nana Darkwa? Our political parties still do not seem to have found yet, their lost compasses of integrity and principle.

The Otumfour gave government few days to act or else he will act to bring the Techimanhene to order. Jungle justice? Clearly this appears to mean He's taking the law into his own hands but I will differ here; He was drawing the attention of government to the possible consequences if the situation is not checked, if justice is not seen as BEING done. He must have felt, like many other Ghanaians that if any jungle action is allowed legitimacy then the appropriate jungle antidote will be found to ensure natural justice. Now if this 'small cough' of the Otumfour could set the entire nation into a 'hay fever' and security Capos are running over, then as a nation I think we had mistakenly oversimplified and underrated the potency of the centripetal forces around Chieftaincy. All manner of commentators then found their voices to speak out, should things degenerate this far before we act? If so then NANA MO!! Sadly we do not yet have a similar voice to speak out for Aso, whom Korle Bu doctors, with impunity, have refused a signed medical form to aid the prosecution of nurses who assaulted and abused her rights in the hospital. Again justice is being obstructed and frustrated. What a shame!

Where are our standards? Is the Brong Ahafo Police commander still at post? He must have the decency to accept responsibility and resign immediately. Heads indeed must roll. A certain systemic security failure could have drenched the entire nation into chaos and all those responsible must be brought to book. Techimanhene and his accomplices must face the law squarely and answer to charges of kidnapping and assault. Tuobodomhene must face the law for any role he played in the attempted murder of Techimanhene years back of which Techimanhene believes Justice has not been served and Otumfour must be cautioned sternly by the courts that such reckless threats are not the order of our day and generation. Whenever he feels justice is not done he can proceed to the courts, or make an appeal to the sitting president directly because he has the means and the ears of any sitting president. It would be criminal for Otumfour to kidnap anybody or forbid any Ghanaian from travelling to Kumasi regardless of the circumstances. They must all face the law and answer to the courts for their actions.

All must realise the nation is bigger and the office of the President must be accorded its due respect.

One Ghana, one President, one People. God bless Ghana.

Written by; Nana Akyeampon