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20.03.2007 Editorial

WHEN THE PRESIDENT AND HIS MEN ABUSE THE LAW

By (ghanaian-chronicle)

Over the last couple of weeks, a former Deputy Director of Immigration at the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has been pouring out his frustrations, over not only the manner in which he lost his job through victimization but, also how officialdom has treated a decision of the High Court for his re-instatement with contempt.

For doing his work with diligence, the officer, Mr. Kojo Hodari-Okae was made a victim by politicians who expected to be obeyed without question. Of course, they proved to the poor public servant where power lay. He was frustrated and eventually sent home and had been without pay for the past four years, his twenty years of public service notwithstanding.

It is more surprising when one considers that these things are happening under a government that did set up a National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to examine incidents like the plight of Mr. Hodare-Okae, identify and compensate victims as a means of promoting national cohesion as well as discouraging acts of impunity that made such persons victims in the first place.

From the beginning of the NRC's sittings till the end, there was the constant refrain of 'never again' should Ghanaians look on unconcerned while a few people held the nation to ransom, treating citizens as they liked.

Even though some members of the NRC deluded themselves into thinking and did pronounce in the course of their work that those acts of impunity that made victims of otherwise very law-abiding citizens were things of the past, even as they sat, people like the former Deputy Immigration boss were still being traumatized through political victimisation.

It is surprising that two years after the court's directive to the President for Mr. Hodari-Okae's re-instatement and almost a year after Entry of Judgment, neither the Minister of Interior nor the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that represented Government in the action taken by the victim, have found it prudent enough to advise for his re-instatement and adequate compensation paid him.

But worst of all was a pronouncement by the current Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng.

In a radio interview on the Hodari-Okae saga, Mr. Asamoah-Boateng, who as a Special Assistant to the then Chief of Staff, Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey wrote in 2001 a report on the former deputy immigration boss that set in motion his woes stated that if he had been the Interior Minister at the time of the incident, he would have sacked the public official outright for what he termed 'gross misconduct.'

As far as Mr. Asamoah-Boateng was concerned, since he was coming from the Castle (the seat of Government) the Immigration officer's disregard of his directive that they allow into the country a foreigner who was being refused entry, amounted to gross disrespect for the Presidency.

He had read political sabotage into the non-compliance with his directive by the immigration officials, forgetting that those public officials worked under laws and regulations of the state.
It is unfortunate that many-a-time politicians would want to lord it over public servants, who have been trained to serve the country with dedication, and expect that every whim of theirs becomes the edict with which the latter work. This was clearly demonstrated by the then Special Assistant when he went to the extent of issuing a query to the Immigration official.

As far as The Chronicle is concerned, Government's handling of this clear case of human rights violation against a citizen of the land going about his professional duties is not good enough and the earlier it comes clean of it the better.

As Ghanaians strive to fully benefit from the nation's motto of 'Freedom and Justice', The Chronicle asks: What happens to the rule of law when the President and his men abuse the rule of law?

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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