03.03.2002 Feature Article

Mallam Issah, Salomey Could Walk Free

Mallam Issah, Salomey Could Walk Free
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I hold no brief for Selormey. However, I had serious doubts about whether or not Mallam Issah stole the $46,000 for which he was incarcerated. In my uninformed opinion, some ‘smart’ and highly placed people within the Youth Ministry conspired to do Mallam Issah in. I believe in Justice, though, now or sometime in the future. The truth always comes out, somehow, somewhere, some time. The ruling of the Supreme Court on the illegality of the Fast Track Courts that tried, convicted and incarcerated Mallam Issah and Selormey and were in the process of trying several others may well be the way for the innocent and seemingly naive Mallam to find the justice that eluded him. The Attorney General’s office may ‘review’ the decision of the Supreme Court all it wants, but there’s really nothing it can do about it. I don’t think Akufo Addo or President Kufuor will want to repeat the “No Court” debacle of the Busia era. Or, would they want to do something to appear to imply so. This is why Akufo Addo chose his words so carefully during his press conference. So, in the final analysis, the Government has no choice than to accept the ruling and in good spirit, too. But, what does this all mean for Mallam Issah, Selormey, Tsikata and a few others on trial? The following is what I speculate will happen. Since a constitutionally innate court cannot try, convict and incarcerate any one, all Mallam Issah and Salomey have to do is to initiate an action in court to have their sentences quashed. But, they can go even further. They can threaten to sue and actually sue the Government of Ghana for wrongful conviction and incarceration. This action can proceed whether or not they were actually guilty of the offence as charged. They can even argue and maybe successfully that, as its name implies, the illegal court ‘fast-tracked’ their cases and hurriedly threw them in jail without due process of the law. Such a lawsuit could be tied up in court and could take years to unravel. And it can prove to be prohibitively expensive for the Government of Ghana. In lieu of such a lawsuit, Mallam Issah and Selormey could strike a bargain with the Government. “You drop the case against us and we drop the lawsuit” – a great bargain chip. The Government could well agree with this and set them free. Alternatively, the Government could allow them to pursue their lawsuits against the state; wait for the outcome and them try again in the High Court or a properly constituted Fast Track High Court. This scenario could be very expensive, especially, in the case of Mallam Issah and also the Government may well have lost its resolve to go on with case. What about Tsikata and the other cases being tried? In the case of Tsikata, Dapaah, Peprah, Ayittey and the rest, not much harm has as yet been done, other than the fact that the Government is seriously embarrassed. The Government can withdraw the cases and re-try them in the regular courts or it can wait, re-constitute the Fast Track Courts and open the cases again. With Tsikata especially, the Government would be going to court badly bruised. He has one up against the Government and the Attorney General’s office would have to fight like hell to win the case. The Government may finally win, if it would have won at the FTC in the first place, but at what cost?

In the end, Tsikata may have helped Mallam Issah and Selormey. He, Tsikata, however, will face the music. But then, I am not a lawyer. So, what do I know?

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