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Opinions of Friday, 16 January 2009

Columnist: Antwi, William

Tsatsu’s Unpardonable Pardon - The Height of A Lawless Democracy

It is insulting to all decent minded Ghanaians who truly care about justice to hear shameless apologists of our ex-president talk as if the mere issuance of the "unconditional pardon" to Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata has brought closure to the blatant injustice melted out to this great son of Ghana. Needless to state here that in a weird way of saying goodbye to us, our ex-president, Mr. J. A. Kuffour, once more whacked us in the face when he irresponsibly exercised his prerogative right of mercy in "favor" of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata. In fact, by that singular unpresidential act, he heaped coals of contempt on our sensibilities as a people determined to build for ourselves a just society. The point is how could the same person who brazenly orchestrated Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata’s persecution turn around and "pardoned" him? Truly, are some of our leaders comfortable with their conscience?

The ultimate essence of this full pardon is that Mr. Tsikata’s slate is wiped clean as if he had never been convicted of any crime or crimes. In other words, the trial that was started with agog by Nana Akuffo Addo and overwhelmingly approved and supported by our ex-president had been rendered useless. What was the essence of trying Mr. Tsikata if at the end of the day he was going to be freed after his conviction? Precisely still, did we expend our practically non-existent money and political capital on this case just for our ex-president to undo everything? Or was it his ugly way of telling Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata where power real lies?

By relating to these legitimate questions, we are not oblivious of Article 72(1) of our constitution which gives our president exclusive and overwhelming power to grant pardon to any criminal. The awesome nature of that power appears limitless. As a political tool coupled with the fact that the integrity of the presidency must be protected at all times, one would expect any president to use that prerogative right judiciously. Any misuse of that power must be condemned in no uncertain terms. It is not a power that should be undermined by any president.

As a discretionary constitutional weapon, this unique power is exercised for humanitarian reasons, to reconcile the nation and rectify any miscarriage of justice. The inviting issue then is: Although, our ex-president was not constitutionally obliged to give any reason for exercising that power, sane Ghanaians want to know what really prompted him to issue that so-called "unconditional pardon" in "favor" of Mr. Tsikata?

First; if he was so much concerned about Mr. Tsikata’s health, he could easily have commutated his sentence instead of granting him a full pardon. That would have left in place his conviction! But to grant him unconditional pardon, the President has undone all that he and Nana Akuffo Addo zealously set out to do in 2001 including their unholy attempt to arrest Mr. Tsikata while in church!

Second; if he wanted to reconcile the nation, I think "unconditionally pardoning" Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata sends the wrong message to the nation and the world. The stark point here is that how can any nation, determined, to advance in dignity compromise on any criminal act that dissipates our natural resources? At this stage of our development, it would be insane to entertain any criminal act in the name of national reconciliation! How on earth should we entertain any criminal act especially one that gravely contributes to the plight of millions of our folks still wallowing in abject poverty?

Third; if our ex-president came to the belated realization that he needed to cure any miscarriage of justice in the case, then he exercised his discretion in very "bad faith"! Indeed, if our ex-president truly believes in our justice system, he should have allowed the law to run its full course. After all, isn’t Mr. Tsikata gallantly and zealously prosecuting his appeal? Or is it our ex-president’s uncanny way of telling us that he doesn’t have any confidence in our judges to do the right thing after what happened at court below?

Personally, I think Mr. Kuffour did what he did because he has to protect himself and his cronies! He lived up to his unflattering billing, namely, "in everything, it is Kuffour first"! The uncomfortable thought of losing power to the NDC really intimidated and scared him into taking that ridiculous decision. Hence, his blatant misuse of that constitutional power to curry favor with President Mills - an unrepentant Tsatsu supporter - and a perceivably hostile parliament dominated by the NDC. Honestly, it is sickening that we cannot go to court to challenge this ugly use of a well-intended constitutional power simply because it is unreviewable! What a world!


We are happy to learn this morning that Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata has refused to accept the pardon. Talk about a principled man! What we must not forget is that implicit in an acceptance of a presidential pardon is an admission of guilt. Therefore, it stands to good reason that Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata has unequivocally refused it and continues to treat it with all the contempt it deserves. The cruel irony here is that once the pardon is issued, delivered or announced by the President it cannot be undone or revoked. Uncomfortably, whether Mr. Tsatsu likes it or not he is free forever of his "crimes". He cannot be admitted back to the Nsawam prison even if he so wishes!

On the flip side, this does not stop him from pursuing his innocence under the law. He has every right to fight and lay claim to his innocence and thereby remove every stigma of guilt attached to his person and name. His determination and resolve to fight on will surely expose the obvious weaknesses in the administration of criminal justice in our country. In other words, pursuing his innocence will surely expose all traces of an unjust prosecution, conviction and unbridled abuse of judicial power. For example, isn’t it amazing that a simple matter of interlocutory appeal - and I am here talking about the IFC immunity issue - is still pending before our Supreme Court more than two years after it was seized with jurisdiction? Was it the Supreme Court’s way of stalling the process when everything points to a crucial legal victory for Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata in the latter’s furious pursuit of his innocence? Incredible!

Lastly, we expect our justices to wake up to their responsibilities and do what is right in this case! Injustice to Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata is injustice to each and every one of us including our justices.

Eternal shame on all apologists of our ex-president!

And we seriously invite our ex-president to bow his head down in shame for supervising this desecration of justice!

In the process, he should ask the good Lord for forgiveness!

Let justice reign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's not over until it's over!

January 12, 2009.