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09.03.2007 General News

We'd Have Jailed Dan Abodakpi-NDC Member

By daily Guide

Former National Democratic Congress (NDC) deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu, has stated he sees nothing wrong with the conviction of Daniel Kwasi Abodakpi, Member of Parliament for Keta.

Taking exception to his party's position, Mr. Amidu, running mate to Prof John Evans Atta Mills in the 2000 elections, stated that Prof Mills would have investigated Mr. Abodakpi, if NDC had won the 2000 polls.

According to the former deputy Attorney General, who had declared himself a “Shadow Vice President” in 2001, it was part of the electoral promise of Prof Mills to investigate all reasonable allegations of corruption and abuse of office if he had won.

“We indeed intended to do so. These are crimes which go beyond government and constitute violence to the very structures of the society,” the shadow vice president said.

Hon Abodakpi, MP for Keta, was convicted by an Accra Fast Track High Court for causing financial loss of $400,000 to the state and defrauding by false pretences.

He is serving a 10-year jail term at Nsawam Medium Security Prison.

However, his conviction was greeted with controversy, with the NDC accusing the judiciary of being manipulated by the government.

They described the conviction of Abodakpi as a political trial and a renewal of the persecution of opposition members.

But, Mr. Amidu said the NDC was only blowing hot air and that the party's position was misconceived, especially when the former Minister was convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction.

He stated that it was inappropriate for the NDC to create the impression that judges had no minds of their own.

“Based on my experience, the overwhelming majority of judges are independent and they are certainly not subject to direction or pressure from third parties, including the executive branch of government,” the former Mills' running mate said.

Mr. Amidu also defended the state prosecutors at the Attorney General's Department, saying they were career professionals who acted according to the dictates of their profession.

However, the shadow vice president expressed concern about what he described as selective justice.

He said it was wrong for only members of the previous administration to be put before court, while no efforts were made to prosecute appointees of the current administration in the face of flagrant abuses.

“We cannot as a nation expand democracy, sustain stability and fight crime if we lock our country up in the partisan prosecution of criminal offences for the sole purpose of political gains at public elections,” he said.

Mr. Amidu commended Abodakpi for asking his colleague MPs to return to Parliament, describing the parliamentary boycott as misplaced.

The NDC MPs, acting on the instructions of the party leadership, stayed out of parliament for two weeks.

The party held a series of public events to register their displeasure, which included embarking on a demonstration at Keta, the home constituency of the jailed MP, where fetish priests were engaged to rain curses on the ruling government.

Mr. Abodakpi has filed for an appeal to overturn the verdict, as well as a bail, pending the outcome of the appeal.