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Opinions of Sunday, 15 July 2018

Columnist: K. Badu, UK.

Please Honourable Minister of Justice, don’t treat the double salary MPs with kid’s gloves

I had mixed feelings when I skimmed through the news which sought to suggest that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has submitted the dockets on the double salary grabbing NDC Members of Parliament investigations to the Attorney General Office for advice.

My obvious incertitude stems from the fact that in Ghana, the general belief is that the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the shameless and obdurate criminals who hide behind the narrow political colorations.

Well, if we are bent on treating the corrupt public officials with kid’s gloves, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Although the Members of Parliament privileges and concessions are grounded in the Constitution of Ghana, it would be somewhat specious for any person or group of persons to contend that such immunity from arrest and issue of summons without the Speaker of Parliament’s prior knowledge and permission is not dowdy in the fight against corruption in the 21st century.

After all, aren’t we all equal before the law? Yes, no one is above the law, so why must a section of the society have some kind of immunity in the justice delivery?

In as much as the controversial concession was inserted in the constitution so as to remedy the needless obstructions and to allow the parliamentarians to go about their duties seamlessly, the provision somehow gives a section of the population an unfettered freedom.

Indeed, we acknowledge wholeheartedly that our representatives in parliament are undertaking very important role in the nation building. But the all-important question is: is their role more important than that of a farmer, a teacher, a doctor among others?

Interestingly, the defenders of the seemingly antiquated provision contend that without the immunity, the parliamentarians may be prevented from their important duties through suppositious civil and criminal law suits.

Well, such a view point is not irrational. However, my bone of contention is that the parliamentarians are not the only relevant actors in the nation building who require special protection in their line of duty.

For argument sake, if the law can excuse a suspected parliamentarian from arrest on his/her way to work, whilst at work or on his/her way back from work, the law might as well make room for the equally important contributors such as farmers, teachers, doctors among others.

Why must we allow a section of the population to perpetrate criminalities and then hide behind the law?

It beggars belief that individuals could form an alliance, create, loot and share gargantuan sums of money belonging to the state and would eventually slip through the justice net.

How could Members of Parliament knowingly keep double salaries to the detriment of the poor and the disadvantaged people?

I will venture to state that the deterrence for political criminals has been extremely disappointing. And, if that was not the case, how come political malefactors more often than not, go through the justice net despite unobjectionable evidence of wrong doing?

The Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, could not have put it any better when he aptly beseeched the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Ghana Police to investigate the NDC MPs alleged double salaries to its logical conclusion and those who are found to have indulged in any criminalities prosecuted accordingly (See: ‘Double salary’ probe: MPs must face the law – Amidu; citinewsroom.com/ghanaweb.com, 19/04/2018).

“What is worrying for me is the knowledge that some people are even talking to the president to compromise so that crime will be overlooked because they are Members of Parliament…so Ghanaians will be awash,” he said in an interview he granted Citi News’ Umaru Amadu Sanda.

“… Why should a Special Prosecutor be prosecuting ordinary Ghanaians and your honourables will be involved in these things; then they will be talking to the president to wash it up. Then I have no need sitting here. I won’t even have the conscience to continue.”

“Will I have the conscience to prosecute any other body for corruption if the CID finds something prosecutable and are not allowed to prosecute because Members of Parliament are involved? That is not fair.”

I could not agree more with Mr Amidu. Where is the fairness when the political thieves could dip their hands into the national purse as if tomorrow will never come and go scot free, while the goat, cassava and plantain thieves are incarcerated?

It would appear that the vast majority of our politicians have no hearts. They are heartless. If that was not the case, how come they have wilfully dipped and continue to dip their hands into the national coffers to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged Ghanaians?

And yet when it comes to the prosecutions of the political criminals, we are often made to believe: “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but it will grind exceedingly fine.”

Yet we can disappointingly recount a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other public servants.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com