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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Columnist: Asare, Noah Dugubrame

When Were The Laws Changed?

Late July this year; 2011, drama unfolded when drug suspects set free by the Osu Magistrate Court under the Lordship of Justice Elien Anokye were forcibly taken away by BNI operatives. The suspects were freed when the Artoney General had indicated that he no more had interest in the case. Minutes after their acquittal BNI operatives stormed the court premises and re-arrested the suspects. The re-arrest of the seven suspects led to a rife confrontation between the BNI operatives and the counsels for the suspects and even the sitting judge. One of the BNI drivers in the course of the Rambo action drove into another car belonging to one of the lawyers. The said driver's arrest was later ordered by the judge for misconducting himself on the court premises. This arrest led to a week long public outcry over the slap in the face of our judicial system. We were however reminded of a section of the constitution which forbids even a bail for suspects involved in drug related offences. The re-arrest was backed mostly by pro-government commentators, the Governemnt information machinery and the BNI. With the references to the constitution as the basis for the arrest, no one else had the power to argue.

With this law still fresh in my memory, I was surprised when I read today that eight suspects including seven NARCOB officials were granted bail today by An Accra Circuit Court. The accused persons were named as Fatimatu Abdulai, Dennis Adutwum Gyimah, Yakubu Issaka, Timothy Aboloimpo and Abubakar Nallah.

Others are Peter Ansong, Mutawa Kilu, Yahaya Iddi, Jerry John Kwesi Abbiw, Eric Darko Akuffo and Nana Zamsah Evrah. I personally don't see anything wrong with granting bail to the suspects so long us the investigators can say their release will not interfere with the investigation. As far as the law approves of it. But it is worrying that the same constitution treats some with tender gloves whilst others are handled with iron hands. If what I heard Kwasi Pratt, Kofi Adams, Allotey Jacobs, the BNI spokespersons and many other people say was and is still true, when was that law reversed? If the law is still the same, how come these ones were granted bail?

This indeed is not the first time we have seen the law manipulated to the detriment of others and to the advantage of others. If my readers will remember after the 2008 elections a riot occurred in Tamale where the police and Millitary swooped in and arrested some rampaging youths for their roles in the violence that even led to deaths. Days after President Mills took over, some of the suspects who were know NDC supporters and activists were left off the hook whilst others who were known NPP activists were thrown back into the prison where they have remained till this day. If our laws are enforced in this kind of open partiality it will lead to a total lack of confidence in our judicial system and law enforcement agencies.

Our laws state clearly that any unlawful destruction of property is an offence. This is why this law is the first of the five duties of a policeman; protection of life and property is the number one duty of a policeman. But in broad day light we witnessed burning down of properties without a single arrest effected. We have instances where our policemen stood helpless whilst people were lynched to death in broad day light. We have seen when youth tagged themselves as NDC foot sodiers and ransacked even state offices like DCE offices, NHIS offices and other important places like Lorry Parks and toll booths and went without any reprimand. The question I asked was if those boys did not bear that name; "NDC Footsodiers" will they still have gone scot free?

The first day I heard causing fear and panick was when Nana Darkwah alleged that he suspected Papa J himself as the person who set his(papa J's) house ablaze. The radio station virtually came under a siege and police whisked the young man away to their offices for questioning. It took some days before he got himself loosed from the shackles of the hitherto hidden law. But on many occasions other people sit on radio and make even more wilder allegations which are more likely to cause more fear and more panick than saying somebody burnt down his own house, and yet no one has ever been arrested. For innumerable times Nana Addo has been the object of ridicule by NDC commentators and activists and never has the police ever arrested a single person for the contempt shown against a man who has rendered diligent service to this nation for 35 good years. But only once when John Kumah dared to open his mouth wide agaist one Ahwoi and Uncle Atta, he was made to smell the stench of the police cells. Insult suddenly became an offence that day.

These might be seen as petty issues but to me they are very important as we step towards 2012. People's perception about the law enforcing agencies should be repaired now. If it becomes a norm that some people are more humans than others those who see themselves under the canvass will be forced to take some positions which will not help in mentaining peace and order, especially during the election.

I believe the time is more than ripe for the law to be interpreted and enforced without any discrimination; politically, racially, religiously, tribally or in any other way. If harbouring a criminal is against the law, a murderer found under the bed of a Minister should set the law in motion and get the Minister to face the full rigours of the law for harboring the criminal. We cannot afford to have murderers, drug dealers, vandals, thieves and all kinds of criminals roam our streets because they were favored by the law because of their affiliation to a party. No one should be treated in a particular way because he belongs to a group, tribe, religion or anything. As our constitution states no one shall be discriminated against because of his religion, race, ethnic group or any other factor.

Equality before the law is the key to trust in our judicial system and our law enforcement agencies.

God Bless our Homeland Ghana.

Noah Dugubrame Asare. Frankfurt, Germany.