The current politics over the drug scare that has hit the country has forced the 2000 vice presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Martin Amidu, to break his long self-imposed political silence.
Mr. Amidu's surprise resurfacing in the ongoing political debate on the drug menace follows the recent pronouncements of Nana Ohene-Ntow, General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), in which he accused the NDC of not dealing expeditiously with drug related cases during its regime.
Mr. Amidu, who was the Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister of Justice during the NDC rule, stated that there was no iota of truth in Ohene-Ntow's claims and added that the issues he raised were just a distortion of historical facts.
"The Attorney-General's office keeps proper records," he stated. "My familiarity with record-keeping in that office convinces me that the office transcends the individual personalities who pass through it."
The former Deputy Attorney General went into what could best be described as a political slumber after his mission to become the vice president of the Republic was quashed.
"A search of the files in the Attorney-General's office on the three cases will show that the facts made available to the President, and which formed the basis of the NPP General Secretary's statement that the President's argument was incontrovertible, were not well researched. They are a distortion of historical facts," Mr. Amidu, the man who once described himself as the shadow vice president, emphasized.
The NPP's chief scribe said a couple of weeks ago that the NDC's complicity in drug- related cases was legendary and indicated that the NDC government had stopped the trial of one Frank Benneh, an NDC appointed Ghanaian Diplomat in Ghana's Embassy in Switzerland, who was busted for selling cocaine in the Embassy.
Ohene-Ntow, in defending President Kufuor's speech at the NPP's Greater Accra Secretariat a few weeks ago, said, "The NDC government intervened and stopped the prosecution of Benneh. He was brought home and was never prosecuted.
"Let the ground rules be the same for all. If we are going to look at these people as individuals responsible for their own actions, then let it be so for all.
"This was the crux of the President's argument, and surely this is incontrovertible." Mr. Amidu observed that in civilized constitutional democracies, the governing party and the opposition or past governments work out a scheme of mutual respect, consultation and consensus building in dealing with sensitive political and national security matters such as the current drug problem in Ghana.
In a statement to The Chronicle to correct what he asserted as false impressions created by Nana Ohene-Ntow and to explain how the NDC tackled issues on drugs, the former vice presidential candidate said Benneh was eventually prosecuted and convicted for dealing in narcotic drugs by the Greater Accra Regional tribunal in the last quarter of 2000.
He said Mr. Benneh, who was represented by Mr. Ray Kakraba Quarshie, was initially refused bail, but a subsequent appeal led to his being granted bail.
According to him, he as the Deputy Attorney General at the time opposed the bail and the subsequent appeal, but could not complete the process before the NDC left office.
In a passionate mood, he noted that the NPP could not win power by denigrating the NDC, and that the latter could also not regain power by condemning the former always. "I suppose the NPP has already learnt that what one says in opposition could hunt one in government," he observed. "The interest of this nation requires that the government and opposition be in constant consultation and not in perpetuated conflict."
The legal expert said, "The NPP has tried confrontation for six years; it has not worked. Why not try consultation and consensus building for the remaining one and half years? Is a circle of conflict the best we all want for Ghana?"
Giving an account of what transpired during the NDC regime, he said the court tried Frank Benneh and two other cases, the rulings for which could be found in the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Reports 1996-1997 at pages 312, 484 and 804 respectively.
On why he appealed against the bail, he said, "I disagreed and will always disagree with that decision as indefensible."
To him, "The Attorney General's office under the NPP government assumed the responsibility to pursue the appeal in the cases of Frank Benneh v Republic. Clearly then, if the appeal was not pursued, the only logical inference is that the Attorney General's office under the NPP government decided not to pursue it.
"The blame cannot be put at the doors of the NDC or the Attorney General's office under the NDC."
He wondered why Frank Benneh had not been sentenced to serve his term after almost six years since he appealed.
"Why was the case not listed for hearing under Chief Justice Wiredu? Why has the case not yet been listed in the court under Justice Acquah?" he challenged. "It could not have been listed in the Chief Justice Abban's Court because the records of appeal were not ready at the time the NDC left office and Chief Justice Abban was hounded out of office."