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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Columnist: Al-hajj

Papa J needs Circumspection


Papa J needs Circumspection

Comments by former President Rawlings following the recent Fast Track High Court’s ruling on the Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s case have attracted varied reactions from commentators and callers into radio and TV programs across the country.
An Accra Fast Tract High court held that the prosecution failed to prove its case against Woyome beyond every reasonable doubt as required by law. This was in view of the fact that key and material witnesses weren’t invited to testify against Mr.Woyome.
However, former President Rawlings’ reaction, shortly after the court acquitted and discharged Woyome in which he called him a thief, was most unfortunate to say the least.
We at The aL-hAJJ are of the opinion that former President Rawlings need to exercise moderation, restraint and circumspection when it comes to reacting to issues in the country as and when they crop up. “Too much of everything is bad”, it has been said of old.
This concept of rampantly insulting and calling people including other former heads of state as thieves, corrupt and other unprintable words is unbecoming of a Rawlings as a statesman. He has done so against former President Kufuor, Mills and now the Mahama administration.
In the case of Woyome, President Rawlings should have even been more careful of his statements granted that it is a ruling of one of the High Courts of the land. No matter the amount of misgivings that one may have against it, one would still need to be a bit more cautious about how to react.
This is even more demanding of no mean a person than a former President who is expected to demonstrate at all times high standards of Statesmanship. We wish to remind him that he is not an ordinary Ghanaian and therefore what an ordinary person can say he as a Statesman cannot say same by virtue of his position. He needs to appreciate this basic fact.
This is shown in the wisdom of the Chieftaincy institution across the country. If there is an occasion that calls for a Chief to dance during an occasion he does so briefly and in moderation just to showcase the cultural heritage but not as long and in the manner as the ordinary dancer would do.
Should Woyome decide to exercise his right under the laws by suing the former President in court that would not only drag his reputation further in the mud, but the exalted office of former presidents will suffer irreparable damage and the nation won’t be better served .
Common law states that one is not guilty until he or she is proven guilty by the law. And if by the rule of the law Woyome has been freed why should he ignore this and go on to still call him a thief? Is that in disrespect to the court?
We take cognizance of the fact that former President Rawlings ruled the country as a military ruler for almost nineteen good years and handed over power to the NPP in 2001 which also ruled for another eight years.
This was against the background that the new government that had been in opposition for decades but which had then won power and is known to habour inordinate hatred against former President Rawlings; they would have been quick to bring him to book to face the full rigorous of the law if they were able to establish a single case of corruption against him personally.
During its two terms in office, the NPP administration made frantic efforts to unearth corruptible case against Rawlings but all to no avail until they lost power again to the NDC, his own party, in 2008 and then in 2012.
Right from the President Mills-led administration through to the Mahama-led one, up till date the loud mouthed NPP are still trumpeting corruption charges against the NDC but none has been able yet to prove one case of corruption against Papa J.This is a plus no one can take away from him.
The foregoing fact, notwithstanding, doesn’t make former President Rawlings an angel. Thus, it would do the former President as a Statesman a lot of good to hold passion and temperament at bay; think through carefully before making any public pronouncement.
The very fact that his better half that warms his bed has been accused of stealing state property during his tenure of office should even make the former President to be extra careful when making statements on corruption, graft and thievery.
Calling other people within his own party as thieves and greedy bastards while remaining silent on the past ‘misdeeds’ of his own wife is tantamount to shelving the corruption of his own while condemning that of others. Doesn’t that amount to selective Justice? This is not good enough Mr. Rawlings!
Former President Rawlings’ golden silence on his wife’s sleaze charge even as it has not been established that he in person was ever corrupt leaves one doubt about his so-called crusade against corruption.
There is a wise African saying that when you have cotton wool in your rectum, you don’t jump over naked fire or otherwise put, “If one’s house is built of glass you don’t initiate a stone throwing exercise”
The former President must also know that whenever the NPP applauds him any time he insults and call people from his own party all sort of nasty names, they are only playing on his sentiments and making a mockery of his intelligence. The fact that when he turns his guns on them for a moment they react angrily is enough testimony of what we are saying.
We don’t hold brief for Woyome. There are many previous cases of corruption and financial lost to the state during which people have been accused of corruption, causing financial lost to the state, gruesome murder among others and hauled before the law courts only to be freed by the law on grounds of what is often referred to as technicalities.
We wish to cite a few out of the numerous ones. The 15,000 metric tons of Indian rice import saga involving a former Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Osei-Adjei and Daniel Charles Gyimah, former NIB boss. They were acquitted and discharged by the court and they are today walking free in the country.
On Tuesday, March 29, 2011, the Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by trial judge Mr. Justice Ayibi, acquitted and discharged 15 persons accused of allegedly conspiring to murder the Overlord of Dagbon in March 2002.
The court held among other things that the prosecution failed to prove that the charred remains of an adult male body were that of the Ya Na to warrant the prosecution of the accused persons in the first place.
"It was not sufficient for the prosecution to say that the Ya Na was dead and leave it at that. Even the investigation was not conclusive of the identity of the charred body nor was a DNA examination conducted to prove that the body was that of the YaNa,it said.
"In law, the death of the Ya Na must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, especially in the absence of a death certificate. If the prosecution failed to prove that the charred remains were the body of the Ya Na. then the accused persons could not be held liable for the death of the Ya Na," the trial judge held.
According to the court, the prosecution witnesses who testified against the 15 were the same persons who testified against YidanaSugri and IddrisuJahinfo in 2002 for the murder of the Ya Na. The two were acquitted and discharged. A total of 12 witnesses testified in the case, which began in July 2010(Daily Graphic)
There is no gainsaying the fact that when it comes to the moral issue of corruption former President Rawlings has in his own right, left a good legacy in the country’s political history but if he is not careful it would be a bogged legacy. A word to the wise is enough.