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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Anecdotes Are Not Forensic Evidence

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I have been a little reticent in taking up the issue of those four stentorian Ghanaian lawyers who have gone on a roll of caustically maligning members of the bench, as a whole, in tones that can only be charitably characterized as invidiously infantile, because there is a particular one among them for whom I was beginning to grow some modicum of respect and even affection (See “Judges to Boycott Top Lawyer” 5/17/11).

The lawyer in question, of course, is none other than Dr. Raymond Atuguba. I have on occasion fumbled over his last name by mispronouncing it as “Atubuga”; probably such confusion comes from reading too much of Ghanaian media fare in recent years. Nonetheless, I am almost quite certain that “Atubuga” likely sounds just as pleasant and meaningful as “Atuguba” in the original language.

Anyway, I first consciously chanced upon the name of Dr. Raymond Atuguba via an E-mail note that the Executive Secretary of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) dispatched to me in response to an article that I had written and published on the distinguished life of Mr. Akenten Appiah-Menkah, another respectable member of the CRC.

The preceding duly registered, still, I must hasten to note that those who have read any of my writings on the CRC, know fully well that I am still of the staunchly-held view that the CRC is patently an unconstitutional diversionary mechanism established by the Mills-Mahama government to illegally continue to protect many a criminally blotched record of a P/NDC operative, in particular the obnoxiously rambunctious and criminally-minded Rawlingses and the legions of their lickspittles and hangers-on.

Anyway, in his aforementioned E-mail, Dr. Atuguba commended me for my quite interesting article and further noted that as the Executive Secretary of the Constitution Review Commission, he had developed a remarkable admiration and respect, verging on awe, for Mr. Appiah-Menkah. And if memory serves me accurately, Dr. Atuguba also noted his fervent hope for both of us to meet one day, perhaps over breakfast or lunch, and have a hearty chat on the general state of affairs of our beloved country.

And so, naturally, it came as a great disappointment to me that in seeking to prove that all was not sound and fair with the Ghanaian judicial establishment, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, one of the leading legal minds of our time, would choose the rather facile mode of an anecdote, a forensically inadmissible piece of evidence, actually a veritably trashy piece of vacuous non-evidentiary evidence, were my dear reader to ask me (See also, “I Know A Judge Who Took GHS 500 Bribe – Chris Ackumey” 5/21/11).

I also read one of the newspaper reports recounting how sacks of bribe money were delivered to a judge with whom Dr. Atuguba once lived, to be passed on to yet another judge. It was, however, not clear to me precisely what the relationship was between Dr. Atuguba and the aforesaid judge. One thing, nonetheless, was inescapably clear. And it is the fact that both the intended recipient of the bribe and the “collegial judge” in receipt of the same, and thus meticulously serving as a safe conduit of bribery and corruption, were equally guilty of the selfsame crime of bribery and corruption!

And, if, indeed, the aforesaid safe conduit of the act of bribery was the uncle of Dr. Atuguba that we learn in some versions of the news reports, then, of course, the latter’s relative could aptly be envisaged to have conducted himself in a far more injurious manner vis-à-vis the salutary development of the Ghanaian judicial establishment than the intended/primary recipient of such criminal act of bribery itself!

But that such egregious allegations are being trucked and/or traded by some of the best trained Ghanaian lawyers is all the more to be decried and pitied. Secondly, that such allegations were made by the four lawyers – namely, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Messrs. David Annan, Abraham Amaliba and Larry Bimi – says far more about the culture and quality of general legal practice in Ghana, than any real acts of bribery and corruption that may have been engaged in by any members of the bench or the judiciary. It is also downright appalling that such allegations would be made by trained, professional lawyers during the annual “Constitution Week” festivities, when our leading legal minds, and lights, ought to have been educating Ghanaians on how to constructively engage, or appropriate, the laid-down laws of the land in the dogged pursuit of a more responsible and meaningful existence.

Coming also on the heels of the alleged brutal raping of a Guinean hotel chamber-maid by one of the most powerful European males of our time, Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn who, until his rather shocking apprehension for such heinous crime just last week, was the imperious director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), throws the quality of the entire Ghanaian judicial system into further doubt. In other words, it virtually goes without saying that a Ghanaian, or African, woman brutally raped by any man, black or white, has a far greater chance of receiving justice right here in a traditionally institutionally racist United States of America than almost anywhere else on the African continent! Needless to say, the foregoing state of affairs is what fundamentally distinguishes a civilized nation and culture from an emergent one.

As for Mr. Chris Ackumey’s assertion that Article 21 (b) of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution emphatically grants that: “All persons shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom,” our terse riposte to Mr. Ackumey is that such rights and freedoms as generously granted by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, are clearly defined and deftly tempered by liabilities and responsibilities, among which are the deliberate and conscious propagation of false and unsubstantiated allegations of a defamatory nature.

So far, the accusers have stated that provided with the appropriate legal and judicial forum, they would be prepared to present the relevant forensic evidence to back up their hitherto largely anecdotal or unsubstantiated allegations. We also hope that Messrs. Raymond Atuguba, David Annan, Abraham Amaliba and Larry Bimi fully appreciate the fact that should it pan out that such acts of bribery and corruption as each of these gentlemen claims to have witnessed, first-hand, occurred while they had each, in fact, attained their current professional status as bar-certified or licensed attorneys, then the General Legal Council (GLC), or the relevant statutory body reserves the right to sanction them for failing to promptly report blatant acts of judicial prejudice or perversion that may well have caused harm and/or injury to other unsuspecting supplicants.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author, most recently, of “The Obama Serenades” (, 2011). E-mail: ###