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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Columnist: Antwi, William

Tsatsu's Bogus Conviction

: Ghana Bar Association In A Theater of A Lawless Democracy!

In a spectacular, but gimmicky attempt at burnishing its tattered image, the Ghana Bar Association, (GBA) through its President, Mr. Osa Mills, lambasted the conduct of Justice Henrietta Abban for her injudicious treatment and conviction of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata. People who are jumping all over themselves in an attempt to praise the Ghana Bar Association without scrutinizing and putting in a larger context its reprehensible conduct since this government came to power do not appreciate the harm this association had done to our constitutional rule. In fact, the GBA has a whole lot to answer for.

The serious questions on the minds of concerned Ghanaians are:

1. Why the sudden and stunning 360 degrees turn in the GBA’s irresponsible and anti-rule of law conduct since the NPP came to power?

AND

2. Should it take the bogus conviction of Mr.Tsatsu Tsikata to shock the GBA to stand up in defense of constitutional rule and rule of law?

It is worth recalling here that the GBA together with other civil societies - including the Christian Council, the Catholic Secretariat, the Association of Recognized Professional Bodies, etc - played a fantastic and fabulous role in bringing about the 1992 4th Republican Constitution and our present democratic dispensation. It was well and alive to its responsibility of encouraging constitutional rule and rule of law. Recognizing its eminent role in consolidating our democracy, the GBA continued its relentless pursuit of the canons of democracy and rule of law by constantly reminding the NDC, then under Mr. John Jerry Rawlings, of its responsibility not only to our constitution but the good people of Ghana. For example, in one of its classic resolutions, the GBA had this to say:

"THE GBA CALLS UPON HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT J.J. RAWLINGS TO REQUEST THE RESIGNATION OF MEMBERS OF GOVERNMENT AND APPOINTEES AGAINST WHOM ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION has (SIC) BEEN MADE AND TO INVESTIGATE ANYONE AGAINST WHOM AN ALLEGATION OF CORRUPTION HAS BEEN MADE".

Interestingly, it is this same association that told the whole nation that it does not "do politics" - whatever that means! So the question is: What was the GBA doing when its members passed that resolution? Again, were they playing politics when they called on the NDC government under Mr. Rawlings not to abuse its incumbency? What about their righteous call on the PNDC government to institute full investigation into the heartless murders of the three high court judges and the retired major? The rest is history.

Now, having somewhat found their mojo, is the GBA now prepared to offer any tangible explanation to the public as to why they have been eerily silent on the following major events and their position on them since the NPP took over the reins of government?

1. The heinous murder of Alhaji Issa Mobila who was brutally murdered in military custody right after the December 7, 2004 general election and our government’s stubborn refusal to prosecute the murderers who are still in active duty service. The GBA in offering an explanation, should not forget that the three individuals arrested and charged with that gruesome crime were first arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction in March of 2005. 2. The brutal massacre of the Yaa Na and some of his people. 3. The dysfunctional nature of our state investigatory agencies like the Police, the Chraj and the SFO 4. The graceless court packing exercise by this government. 5. Selective justice - investigating and prosecuting only members of the opposition party. 6. The geological speed with which our High Court is dealing with electoral disputes. 7. Poor conditions in our prisons, hospitals, schools etc 8. And, what about all the heartbreaking allegations of corruption against important personalities in government including the president.

9. The unprecedented rise of armed robbery and cocaine dealing in the country.

10. The atrocious and obscene use of incumbency by this government for undue political advantage.

11. The divisive and destabilizing conduct of some high-profile chiefs engaging in active politics notwithstanding the full edict of Article 276(1) of our constitution.

12. Parliament’s brazen refusal to pass the Freedom of Information Act which has been pending before it since God knows when!

13. The possible criminal use of per diem allowances by state officials and some private individuals.

AND

14. The dangerous rise of tribal advocacy in our dear country.

It is important to emphasize here that if the GBA is truly committed to the consolidation of our democracy, it must address these grave national issues in an honest, frank and aggressive manner no matter which political party is in power. In fact, these are issues that are clearly undermining our system of government in more than one way. Ghanaians would begin to take the GBA serious if and only if they are seen as non-partisan in dealing with these sensitive issues confronting our already fragile nation. Rising up in defense of constitutionalism, rule of law, substantive and procedural due process means more than mere sloganeering. It entails a whole lot of integrity, fortitude and clear vision on the part of the GBA’s leaders and members.

If it has taken the bogus conviction of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata to jolt the GBA into action, then it is all fair and good. But if it thinks this singular act without more is going to put them in good stead with the discerning public, then it is making a huge and dangerous mistake because when the wrath of the people is unleashed, it would not be pretty. We all know that it is in the economic, political and social interest of the GBA not to abandon its watchdog role in our democratic dispensation. Members of the GBA must always remember that a stable and viable political environment is always a boom to the legal profession.

A word to the wise ...................

WILLIAM ANTWI, A.K.A. OYOO BUSANGA (BAFO) NEW YORK. ____________________________________________________