News of the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Authority (GNPC), Mr.Tsatsu Tsikata's conviction, by the Accra Fast Track High Court, was met with mixed reactions in Kumasi, capital city of the Ashanti Region.
While many believe the timing for the judgment was wrong, and the sentence too harsh, others believe the judge had exercised her judicial powers, in the best possible way, considering the extent to which the substantive case has been dragged.
Following the pronouncement of the judgment, The Chronicle sampled views and opinions of some residents in the city, and also monitored callers and text messages to various political radio talk show programmes, where most people expressed varied opinions, with respect to the judgment, and the circumstances under which it was delivered.
A Lecturer at the School of Engineering Department of the Kumasi Polytechnic, Dr. Owusu Achiaw, said he saw nothing wrong with the judgment, delivered by Mrs. Justice Henrietta Abban, since she acted within the confines of the country's legal system.
According to him, the judge did not err in delivering the judgment, because the merit of the case, in which the Mr.Tsikata was convicted, had been adequately considered, adding she had exercised her legal discretion, and that Ghanaians ought to respect that.
He described public outcry, with respect to judgments of such nature, as highly hypocritical, because according to him, Ghanaians refuse to accept realities, and the fact that it was the legal system, which had taken its course.
Dr. Achiaw noted that he found it extremely difficult, to reconcile the way most Ghanaians make much noise about the corrupt practices of our public officials, and how they tend to sympathize with them, when these same officers, whose actions and inactions cost the nation to lose much, are made to face the full rigours of the law.
“We say our officers are corrupt, but when they are found guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment, for these same acts, we tend to point accusing fingers at the government, and describe it as a political witch-hunt,” he observed.
The Lecturer, however, stressed that instead of criticizing the judge, for delivering the sentence, she must rather be commended for taking such a bold and courageous decision.
A Mechanical Engineering student of the school, who pleaded anonymity, however, shared a contrasting opinion to that of his lecturer, saying the judgment was highly out of place, and a clear case of vindictiveness, and political witch-hunting.
He stated that the judgment was delivered in haste, because the court could have waited for the outcome of the appeal, filed by Mr.Tsikata at the Supreme Court, which, according to him, was a higher court of competent jurisdiction.
Mr. Eric K. Baah Confidence, reporter with a local radio station, Kessben 93.3 Fm, said he saw nothing wrong with the judgment, and even questioned why Tsikata was given a lesser sentence, to that of the late Victor Selormey and Dan Abodakpi, since they all committed the same offence.
To him, Mr.Tsikata should have filed for a stay of execution, pending the Supreme Court hearing, rather than challenging the authority of the judgment.
Eric Baffour, of the City Image Internet Café at Asafo, said he saw the ruling as a normal one, since to him, the government of the opposition NDC, would have done the same thing.
However, most callers, who called into political talkshow programs, expressed their disappointment with the country's legal system, saying that at a time that the government of President Kufuor, had began a road map to peace and unity, by granting pardon to Mr. Dan Abodakpi, and deciding to reward the flagberear of the NDC, Prof. John Evans Attah Mills, such punishment should not be meted out to another NDC stalwart.
Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata was, on last Wednesday, sentenced to five years in prison, on four counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, and intentionally misapplying public property on a limited liability company.