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Opinions of Thursday, 29 September 2016

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Rationalising Lucas Agboyie’s libido propelled act?

Therefore, if any man is dangerous to the community and is subverting it by some sin, the treatment to be commended is his execution in order to preserve the common good… therefore, to kill a man who retains his natural worthiness is intrinsically evil, although it may be justifiable to kill a sinner just as it is to kill a beast, for, as Aristotle points out, an evil man is worse than a beast and more harmful”.

Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica

TEARS HAVE WELLED IN MY EYES as I write this piece. The story is weird, incredible and obscene; the act is unconscionable, vicious, outrageous, impious and sinister. Some of us cannot stand the sight of Lucas Agboyie's ogre-like picture in the Daily Graphic of Friday, 23rd September, 2016. It is abominable, reading: “I killed girl, 7… and had sex with body; Man, 22, confesses.”

He was like Grendel in 'Beowulf', like the Beast in 'Beauty and the Beast', like Polyphemus, like the Cyclops in 'Homer's Odyssey', like the Cyclops in 'Sinbad the Sailor', and like the Giant Despair in John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'.

I may be pardoned for not writing as a sociologist or for not writing as a criminologist or for not writing as a lawyer … but writing as a parent, as grand – parent of that little girl whose mother had sent her on an errand only to be lured by Agboyie who asked her to bring his towel hanging behind his house. What were there on the girl to attract Agboyie—her face, her legs, her boobs?

And Agboyie confesses: “On her return I told her I wanted to sleep with her but she refused. I held her hand and she began struggling with me. She begged and told me to let her go and started screaming. So I strangled her. I then took her to my room and slept with the body. Afterwards, I took the GH¢20 she had in her possession and used it to buy ganja.” Haba – apologies to I.K. Gyasi.

The incident which occurred on April 19, 2015 with the accused arraigned before the court on April 23, 2015, had the docket sent to the Attorney General's Department for advice in June 2015. Naturally, the judge at the Accra Central District Magistrate's Court, Worlanyo Kotoku, Esq. could only be alarmed, and he expressed this in very few words: “I don't know why the case is still delaying.

The accused person's story has been consistent since the first day he was brought to court. These are committal proceedings and not the actual trial.” Kudos to the lawyer who volunteered to follow up to the Attorney-General's Department—in the absence of the Prosecutor. Some of us lawyers are, likewise, going to follow the case which we hear has been adjourned to October 4, 2016.

At the trial, we are likely to be told that Section 46 of the Criminal Offences Act spells out: “A person who commits murder is liable to suffer death”, and Section 47 says: “A person who intentionally causes the death of another person by an unlawful harm commits murder…” Section 304(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code states: “Every sentence of death shall direct that the person condemned shall suffer death in accordance with the provisions of this section … Section 304 (3). The execution may be either by hanging or shooting by firing squad.

During the full trial the accused person may have to be represented by a lawyer who could plead insanity, intoxication, ignorance of fact or the law. No argument here, for the accused has the right to be represented. Even where he declares that he has no money to engage a lawyer, the State will have to obtain one for him, my friends at 'Legal Aid' may have to prepare themselves for a good battle of wits.

Already, Sociologists and Psychologists have jumped into the fray. When Sigmund Freud propounded his theory of the 'Id', 'Ego' and 'Superego', he explained that the 'id' contains a person's 'libido' – which is the primary source of instinctual force that is unresponsive to the demands of reality. The 'id' “…knows no judgments of value: no good, no evil, no morality” it is compelled by the 'Oedipus Complex' or dictatorial: “Thou Shalt…”.

Libido, is colloquially known as 'sex – drive' the overall sexual desire for sexual activity. Did the 'ganja' the accused smoked drive him into hyper – sexuality? Should we allow lust, sadism or masochism to disturb the social order? Social order refers to the way in which a society is organized along with certain sets of social structures, practices and institutions that maintain and set methods for relating and behaving.

Bruce Fein thinks communities would be plunged into anarchy, if people were allowed to go scot – free after committing crimes. The Good Book tells us in Exodus 22:18, thus: “Wrongdoers you shall not suffer to live” and the question is how many people are we to allow to be murdered while we wait for the wrongdoer to repent of his sins?

The accused confesses to smoking 'ganja'. Perhaps he is talking about 'weed', 'pot' or 'crack'. He may attribute his action to the hallucinating effect of the drug. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can cause a ruckus in one's brain's orbital frontal cortex—and one can easily be turned into a zombie—mindless, unthinking henchman. This is the kind of stuff people are asking to be de-criminalised. Of course, free speech should be permitted—we can learn vital lessons when people are allowed to speak their minds, but if a legislation would harm the social order, we need to re-think the proposal.

The respected Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa thinks: “To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, it is not justice”. But there is an argument that the social order should be respected, and retribution has a role to play here. We should not confuse retribution with revenge. People fear nothing more than death. Even a sniff of death can see the living trying to live upright lives. Take the death sentence away, remove it from or statute books, and you can see the effect. There is a very old saying: “The wages of sin is death”.

Some people argue against the Death Penalty. They call it barbaric, antiquated, regressive, cruel, undemocratic, totalitarian, uncivilized, and inhuman. They have their merits, and many countries have abolished or trying to abolish the Death Penalty.

Their arguments are bolstered by Amnesty International, which posits: “The death penalty legitimizes an irreversible act of violence by the state and will inevitably claim innocent victims.
As long as human justice remains fallible, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated”. Thomas Aquinas has noted: “To one who has faith no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible”. What more does one need to add?