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24.04.2007 General News

PRESIDENT KUFUOR AND THE RULE OF LAW

By Benson A. Katapilla

Ask the typical Ghanaian what he understands by the oft-quoted jargon “Rule of Law” and one would be amazed by his answer! How many would know that the Rule of Law is neither a set of Rules, nor a set of Laws? The Rule of law is not a set of Laws and it is not a set of Rules, to reiterate!
What then is the Rule of Law? The generally accepted meaning paints a picture of a principle of political morality which balances the role of law in the affairs of citizens and the State in an equitable society.
One important exhibit enjoins the Republic in the embodiment of the President or the Ruler of a Nation, to maintain integrity with the ruled, with credibility as the highest virtue in the relationship.
So, Mr. Kufuor, as president of Ghana should not knowingly or negligently take advantage of a State of the Nation Address forum to tell a worried nation to expect electricity from Nigeria within a fortnight, where he doesn't have facts to support his words. This erodes his credibility and infringes against the Rule of Law, as it is morally wrong to tell lies or to say things without any basis.
So, NPP as the ruling government of Ghana should not apply selective justice or delay justice in several cases, too numerous to mention, where their political opponents are made to face the law. Can they tell us why the electoral case in which Nii Lante Vanderpuije stands charged before ' a Fast Track Court' for the past 3 years, only was resurrected when there was the spectre of the accused standing in a by-election for the Odododiodoo seat he was originally vying for which generated the prosecution? Can they further tell us why the case was put on the shelves right after the by-elections, making the accused appear in court ever since at regular intervals with no sign of the Attorney General making his case?
Can they tell us why NDC functionaries have been made to suffer by reporting at short intervals to BNI since 2001 for interrogation that never ends?
Can they tell us why Hodari Okae of the Immigration Service, one they merely suspected of being an NDC sympathiser, lost his job without explanation?
Can they tell us why they are harassing the Rawlings Family and the 31st December Women's Movement to the extent of having the BNI usurp the powers of the Ministry of Social Welfare in order to victimise Nana Konadu Rawlings?
Note that after Nana Konadu exposed the NPP on the Voice of America recently, they have quickly moved to amend the NGO laws to justify their wrongdoing!
We shall not discuss military regimes because they are unconstitutional and by definition are Anti-Rule of Law, yet we should all the same wait a minute and hold on to the total condemnation of the NPP.
Ghana's history is replete with stories of citizens whose fundamental rights were trampled on throughout our emergence as a constitutional nation. The British Colonial masters trampled on the rights of an Asantehene and carted him off to a secluded Island in the Atlantic Ocean called Seychelles. Fighters like Sergeant Adjetey and Corporal Attipoe were shot in cold blood.
Nkrumah, Busia, Limann, Rawlings and Kufuor are the constitutional Leaders Ghana has had. The lack of understanding of the Rule of Law in our nation began with Nkrumah, when out of frustration at the incessant assassination attempts by his opponents he resorted to indiscriminate arrests of the innocent and the culpable. Nkrumah thus infringed the Rule of Law, even though he passed laws to support the detention of those he arrested since many innocent people were corralled in the process.
Busia's unpopular “Apollo 568”, infringed the rights of citizens including that of SIL's SECKAGO (as we have come understand). Busia's transfer of two years advance salary in foreign exchange depleted the national coffers which denied the poor and disadvantaged amenities. That was morally corrupt and thus an infringement of the Rule of Law.
Limann sat by impotently for his party leaders to rape the economy. He sat by to watch his National Security hound and harass Ghanaians, chasing them without cause. Ironically, during the NDC's time, an arrested individual returned home with a re-arranged hairstyle without proper consent. Did this jive with the Rule of Law principle?
No, all of the above were politically, legally and morally reprehensible!
Ghana has thus far failed in terms of proper administration of the Rule of Law. Where Kufuor and his men feel superior to the law whenever caught doing wrong in the glare of the light, they point at the previous NDC government as having done the same thing they are now doing! Sad!
Kufuor and his NPP have micro-managed a wrong against the people of Ga-Mashie. Dr Jo Blankson, the purported new Mantse (King) of Ga Mashie is the son of Mary Lartey. Mary Lartey's father was Mantse (King) Tackie Tawiah. Jo Blankson is thus the grandchild of Tackie Tawiah through matrilineal connection. Ga Mashie inherits patrilineally or paternally and so the rightful person to be nominated should have descended from a son of King Tackie Tawiah, not from the daughter, Mary! If there are no descendants from the male children of Tackie Tawiah, then things would have been okay. But there are!
A simple analogy would suffice. How can the children of Princess Anne of Britain (daughter of Queen Elizabeth) take precedence over Price William or Prince Harry? This is what Kufuor and his people have wrought on the people of Ga Mashie! Totally against the Rule of Law! Woe unto them at the appropriate hour!
The books tell us that “for much of human history, rulers and law were synonymous; law was simply the will of the ruler. A first step away from such tyranny was the notion of rule by law, including the notion that even a ruler is under the law and should rule by virtue of legal means. Democracies went further by establishing the rule of law.
Although no society or government system is problem-free, rule of law protects fundamental political, social, and economic rights and reminds us that tyranny and lawlessness are not the only alternatives. The NPP must know that “Rule of Law means that no individual, president or private citizen, stands above the law. Democratic governments exercise authority by way of law and are themselves subject to law's constraints.”
Ghanaians must understand that Laws should express the will of the people, not the whims of traditional or religious leaders, or political parties. Citizens are willing to obey the laws of Ghana, because they are submitting to their own rules and regulations. The jurist opines that “Justice is best achieved when the laws are established by the very people who must obey them.”
Ghanaians should understand that under the rule of law, a system of strong, independent courts should have the power and authority, resources, and the prestige to hold government officials, even top leaders, accountable to the nation's laws and regulations. Thus Mr. Kufuor's packing of the Supreme Court merely to offset the decision in the Tsatsu Tsikata case can never be forgotten or forgiven. For this reason, judges should be well trained, professional, independent, and impartial. To serve their necessary role in the legal and political system, judges must be committed to the principles of democracy, not to the wishes of Kufuor.
Citizens must be secure from arbitrary arrest and unreasonable search of their homes as the home of Prof. Mills, NDC opposition leader, was subjected to when he was away in Canada teaching!
Under the requirement of equal protection under the law, the law may not be uniquely applicable to any single individual or group as is the considered view of the opposition NDC. Nii Lante Vanderpuije is exemplification of a citizen charged with crimes but who is being prevented from his entitlement to a speedy and public trial, along with the opportunity to confront and question his accusers.
Succeeding Ghanaian leaders, Ghanaians and political parties do not know what the Rule of Law means! It is my conclusion that the political elite of Ghana together with their supporters do not know what the Rule of Law means. In this regard, the democratic experiment we have embarked on is suffering a systematic haemorrhage. The hope is that this does not eventually lead to its demise.
It is a rather frightening situation for people to clothe themselves as practitioners or adherents of the Rule of Law without knowing or understanding its import.

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