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Opinions of Monday, 3 May 2010

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

The State Pursues Nana Darkwah in Court for Accusing Rawlings of Arson

One Nana Darkwah, a sympathiser of NPP, the son of Kumawuman and a resident of Accra has "supposedly" fallen into the trap of the President Atta Mills' NDC government. This youngman went into a radio station's studio as a panellist on a programme. His views were sought on the possible cause of the fire outbreak that gutted Rawlings' official residence at Ridge in Accra on the night of this year's Valentine Day. He opined and declared on air that the fire in all probability had been caused by former President Togbui Avaklasu J.J. Rawlings himself. Barely had he made this audacious but probably stupid or unfounded statement when one Kofi Adams, whom I will at this stage qualify as not only an intellectually challenged person but also, devoid of common sense, had him arrested under handcuff. Kofi Adams marched into the studio in the gait of a macho, accompanied by policemen to whisk Nana Darkwah away to the Police Headquarters in Accra. Within five hours of finding himself in the grips of the law and the police, he was charged, arraigned before a court and remanded to Nsawam Maximum Security Prison for a week. Kofi Adams is the official spokesperson to Former President J.J. Rawlings if one cares to know.

The minority NPP caucus in Parliament found this as an affront to freedom of speech. They found his arrest and imprisonment as unlawful and so boycotted Parliament and parliamentary sessions for a week in solidarity with Nana Darkwah. This line of action taken by them was in defence of the rule of law and human rights in Ghana as seen to be infringed upon under the Mills' "slow but sure" administration. Nana Darkwah was released from Nsawam Prisons after passing a night there. He was bailed and has since been attending court as and when the Judge deems it convenient, in consonance with his whims and caprices.

Following from my previous writings on same subject, one finds that the judge keeps on adjourning the case on request by the incompetent prosecution team who are totally clueless about what they are doing. The case had been rescheduled for hearing on Thursday, 15th April 2010. Neither the judge nor the prosecution team did attend court that day. The defence team with their sympathisers did attend not knowing the case would not come on as programmed. The judge did not have the least decency to inform the defence team about his absence well ahead of the scheduled court date. This is Ghana for you with their stupid retardant attitude of "Ghana dee saa" way of doing things. This nonsensical attitude of the judge will never happen anywhere in the civilized Western world.

President Atta Mills came out to announce his position on the arrest and prosecution of Nana Darkwah. He was against his arrest. He condemned it. He denounced it as an attack on freedom of speech. He also said the State has no hand in the prosecution of Nana Darkwah. This is the very point where my concern begins. If the State has nothing to do with the arrest of Nana Darkwah, why then is he charged with the offence of "Publishing false statement which can cause fear and harm to public" as under the Criminal Code Section 208? Does accusing Rawlings of a committed crime or alleging that he has committed a crime able to cause fear and alarm to the Ghanaian public? If it does, on what grounds, I should like to know? Is Rawlings above reproach for being the NDC's tin God or the self-acclaimed untouchable strongest man in Ghana who doesn't fear "huuuu" but "does "trokaa" things with impunity? The charge is as senseless as the despicable character of both the Presiding Judge and the prosecution team. They arrange between themselves to agree on keeping deferring the hearing of the case.

Rawlings on this occasion has made me proud. He came out the next day upon hearing the allegation made against him saying, "Nana Darkwah is a young boy who does not know what he is saying so I have forgiven him his sins. I also pray that God does forgive him his sins". He has since not shown any interest in the case. He is the only one capable by law in a circumstance of this nature to pursue Nana Darkwah in court for libel but not the State as reflected in the charge preferred against Nana Darkwah.

I am sure the Presiding Judge will do himself a favour by throwing out the case without further baseless adjournments. He is without well defined legal grounds or convincing evidence to successfully prosecute Nana Darkwah. Nana Darkwah has not caused any fear and alarm to public as is being alleged by the incompetent prosecution team with the tacit support of the judge.

I have made a research into the criminal offences and I came up with the following. "Two of the three categories of offenses cited in the Criminal Code concern offenses against the individual. The third category includes a series of offenses against public order, health and morality, and the security of the state as well as piracy, perjury, rioting, vagrancy, and cruelty to animals. Several offenses reflect Ghana's traditional laws, including drumming with the intent to provoke disorder, cocoa smuggling, and settlement of private disputes by methods of traditional ordeal. Criminal Court procedure is guided by the Criminal Procedure Code of 1960 as subsequently amended. As in British law, habeas corpus is allowed, and the courts are authorized to release suspects on bail. Ghana's legal system does not use grand juries, but, in accordance with constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights, defendants charged with a criminal offense are entitled to a trial by jury. Five degrees of offenses are recognized in Ghana. Capital offenses, for which the maximum penalty is death by hanging, include murder, treason, and piracy. First-degree felonies punishable by life imprisonment are limited to manslaughter, rape, and mutiny. Second-degree felonies, punishable by ten years' imprisonment, include intentional and unlawful harm to persons, perjury, and robbery. Misdemeanours, punishable by various terms of imprisonment, include assault, theft, unlawful assembly, official corruption, and public nuisances. Increased penalties apply to individuals with a prior criminal record. Corporal punishment is not permitted. Punishments for juveniles are subject to two restrictions: no death sentence may be passed against a juvenile, and no juvenile under age seventeen may be imprisoned. Regulations and laws such as these are not applied equitably. Indeed, defendants habitually resort to one or another measure to avoid or ameliorate punishment".

From the above, which category of offence does Nana Darkwah come under? Who can pursue him in court when found to have committed a misdemeanour or a felony? Mr. Mills is very much aware of the ongoing political persecutions in Ghana but his hands are tied. The NDC foot-soldiers whom others prefer to call "fool soldiers" have become law unto themselves. They are masquerading in the false presumption of "Yan aban na aba" to commit crimes with impunity. The judge may be either scared of the NDC mob who may take revenge on him in the event of him setting Nana Darkwah free or he is himself a NDC activist hence, his obvious dilly-dallying to giving the case a hearing. Until the case is thrown out of court or the charge changed, the State must be seen as prosecuting and persecuting Nana Darkwa regardless of "Asomdwehene Mills'" declaration as stated above.

Once, the late High Court Justice Agyepong of ever blessed memory, one of the three Accra High Court judges callously murdered by Ex-President J.J. Rawlings under his PNDC regime, said in response to a question posed by his nephew, Emmanuel Marfo (Kwame Nyame), also a departed soul, who was more of a brother to me than a friend, "Some judges in spite of having studied abroad and acquired higher degrees, they cannot still deliver fair judgement". This intelligent statement from an honest judge who was made to suffer premature death under the hands of Rawlings because of his honesty, speaks volume about the judge presiding over Nana Darkwah's case. He meant to say that some judges are not well vexed in the law and in the art of presenting fair judgement despite the fact of having higher educational qualifications. Is Charles A. Wilson one of such judges? We live to see. The case comes on again on Thursday, 6th May 2010.

By the mercy of God and the abundance of His grace upon me, I have today declared Nana Darkwah innocent of all blame. The State has no business taking him to court as long as Rawlings has officially pardoned him by making a statement to that effect on Peace FM radio. Nana Darkwah, you are free and free for ever.

Rockson Adofo