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23.08.2004 Feature Article

An Open letter To the Minister Of Interior: HACKMAN OWUSU-AGYEMANG

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I am always shocked by the arrogant behaviour of some in government who think they have the right to lord it over the rest of us. In all other advanced democracies, people in government are mindful of the fact that they were elected to serve but not to become the lords of the people. Not long ago, The Lens, a local newspaper broke the story of your maid, one Mavis Turkson who was brutally assaulted and subjected to inhuman beatings by your bodyguard, under the heading, "Hackman's maid hacked". This was also reported on Ghanaweb.com. The paper carried alongside a picture of the poor woman in a pool of blood lying unconscious, subsequent editions had pictures of her on her hospital bed, sitting in a wheelchair being pushed to be X-rayed and another one with her neck in bandage. Needless to say, this incident is widely publicized and the pictures speak for themselves. The whole world has seen the brutalities meted out by a Ghanaian Minister of State to her domestic servant since these pictures are on the internet.

When you had time to respond to the story in your rejoinder also published on Ghanaweb.com, you confirmed The Lens story in its entirety albeit additional details here and there. After your rejoinder was published you addressed a press conference on the issue and instead of showing your human side by offering a sincere and unqualified public apology to the poor woman, her family and the Ghanaian public, you blew it. You chose to talk about irrelevant things. You spoke about a grand conspiracy to tarnish your "hard won reputation", as if the incident never happened. You again chose to address Ghanaians about the number of Mercedes benz cars you have owned and driven and the fact that you bought your first benz in 1975. Sir, the issue is not about Mercedes benz and when you bought your first benz. That is totally irrelevant. Some billionaires, and I mean dollar billionaires, don't own a car and they never boast about their billions. Ever heard of Bill Gates boasting about his riches? The issue at stake is you could own a fleet of private jets, but that doesn't give you the right to order the beating of a poor maid of yours for some rings you claim has been stolen. As a minister of interior, I hope you have heard of the old line that a suspect is deemed innocent unless his/her guilt is proven by a competent court of law.

Dear Minister, what you did amounts to official oppression. A person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a crime if knowing that his conducts is illegal, he subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, or other infringements of personal liberties, or denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of his human rights. As a Minister of State, I thought you would be interested in fostering improvement in the respect for and the protection of human rights of ordinary Ghanaians but not be the one to abuse the rights of a poor maid in your service. I expect the NPP to come out to condemn this barbaric behaviour and to dissociate itself from your arrogant behaviour. When the NPP was in opposition, it condemned the signature haircuts at the castle, and I expect them to do the same here in the interest of democracy. The Lens asked some important questions in its story. Where are the Ghanaian women associations when they are needed most? And where is the Minister of Women Affairs when she is needed most? Justice must be done. If we allow these abuses to go unpunished, we are creating a more deeply irrational society devoid of rule of law and pandering to our lowest instinct which will eventually allow ourselves and our democracy to be pulled down a rat hole.

In your rejoinder you stated, you felt slighted by the Airport police not consulting you before granting bail to the poor woman as such they did not show you respect and you possibly "blasted" them for that. That also confirms what The Lens newspaper reported. The Minister of interior has the Police Force under his ministry. So you should be familiar with the law establishing the Ghana Police Force and its workings. Ghana Police is corrupted beyond anything you can imagine, but on that occasion they just invoked the law and did the right thing by granting bail to the poor woman to receive medical attention. It is worthy of note that a complainant need not be consulted before bail is granted. Sir, if you don't know this then you have no business being the Minister of Interior and the best you can do is to resign. Mr. Minister, I urge you to show your human side, by doing what all rational and responsible beings will do under this circumstances. Please offer a public apology to the poor woman and his family, visit them and take care of her hospital expenses, and compensate her for the inhuman treatment she received at your hands. Having done that, you owe Ghanaians an unqualified apology for the animalistic behaviour of your bodyguard which you condoned, poor maids also have human rights. If you do all these, may be the poor woman will forgive you and you will regain some of your dignity as a human being. Failure to do this, even if the Attorney General fails to initiate criminal action against you, the poor woman can file a civil suit against you for violating her human rights. That will be a real test of our democracy. Ghana has a long way to go. Ben Ofosu-Appiah, Tokyo, Japan. The author is a social and political commentator based in Tokyo, Japan. Your comments and views are welcome Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Ben Ofosu-Appiah
Ben Ofosu-Appiah, © 2004

The author has 133 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: BenOfosuAppiah

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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