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02.10.2008 Feature Article

Tsatsu Tsikata is no Ghanaian Albatross!

Tsatsu Tsikata is no Ghanaian Albatross!
It is increasingly becoming apparent that the single greatest bottleneck to both the judicial and socioeconomic development of Ghana squarely inheres in the abject lack of critical cognitive engagement with relevant and progressive national issues. Thus in the wake of the forced resignation of the President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), for example, a quite popular print-and-radio journalist published an article in his regular newspaper column called “The Outsider” titled “An 'Albatross' Named Tsatsu” (Ghanaweb.com 10/1/08). The gist of Mr. Ato Kwamena Dadzie's write-up, as many a Ghanaian reader is apt to describe it, was that in prevailing on Mr. Nii Osah-Mills to resign his presidency of the GBA, the solely recognized national, professional association of Ghanaian legal practitioners, the GBA Council had flagrantly preempted the salutary administration of justice in the country.

In reality, what Mr. Osah-Mills had done was presumptuously breach his professional and ethical code of conduct as President of the GBA, by publicly parading his personal opinions regarding the judicial conviction and imprisonment of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata almost as if such purely private and personal opinions, somehow, represented the collective stance of the GBA on the Tsikata episode. Matters were also not in the least bit helped by the fact that at the time that Mr. Osah-Mills made his comments to Joy-Fm, the popular Accra radio station, the criminal convict, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, had a legal appeal pending before the Ghanaian judicial system. Consequently the Bar Council, the highest decision-making body of the GBA, was dead-on accurate in characterizing the patently irresponsible pronouncements of Mr.Osah-Mills as both unpardonably unprofessional as well as one that had “brought the [GBA] and the administration of justice [in Ghana as a whole] into [abject] disrepute and further caused [great] embarrassment to the legal profession” (Modernghana.com 10/1/08).

Curiously enough, though, for Mr. Ato Kwamena Dadzie, who promptly acknowledges that he is an inveterate enemy of both the legal and judicial professions, Mr. Osah-Mills' flagrant attempt to both prejudice and gravely undermine the administration of justice in Ghana amounts to a laudable act of civil rights advocacy. And here, what needs to be borne in mind is the fact that Mr. Tsikata, for some six marathon years now, has been impugning the constitutionality of the Fast-Track judicial system that found the former managing-director of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) guilty of causing serious financial loss to the State. Already, both the Ghana Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have decisively ruled against the convicted plaintiff.

What is also interesting about Mr. Dadzie's rather sophomoric attempt at holding the Ghanaian judiciary, as well as our entire system of justice, to ridicule is that the critic, who is better known for his sense of humor than his common sense, does not dispute the well-established forensic fact of Mr. Tsikata having caused serious financial loss to the Ghanaian state. Rather, the critic appears to be impugning the integrity of the judge, Ms. Henrietta Abban, who sentenced Mr. Tsikata to a piddling 5-year prison term, on purely procedural grounds, to wit, that at the time of his conviction and sentencing, the defendant had a cache of appeals pending before various levels of the Ghanaian judicial system, a circus game that Mr. Tsikata has been sneeringly playing throughout the period.

In essence, what Mr. Tsikata has been scurrilously engaged in during the course of the last six years, and in the wake of his indictment, in legalese is called “Barratry,” the tactical filing of frivolous suits and appeals with the sole aim of effectively hobbling the judicial system, by both stultifying the system as well as grounding it to a halt, and thus cleverly letting himself off the hook of the proverbial long-arm of justice.

Significantly, though, in his “Albatross” article, Mr. Dadzie happily observes having rapturously relished the “legal acrobatics” of his hero, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, whom the critic also describes as a “legal giant,” or wit, and “an asset” to the Ghanaian judicial system.

And here, it may be relevantly and significantly recalled that Mr. Tsikata, a former lecturer of the University of Ghana law school, has been widely fingered as either a major architect or a chief participant in the design and operation of the Public Tribunals and People's Courts, which machinery routinely supervised the summary convictions and swift executions of hundreds of thousands of otherwise diligent and law-abiding Ghanaian entrepreneurs, as well as ordinary citizens, sans any appellate recourse during most of the 1980s.

It is also significant to observe that the Fast-Track judicial system, whose unnecessarily elaborate and justice-centered procedural maze Mr. Tsikata has been manipulating for more than six years now, was legitimately established with the sole and auspicious purpose of remarkably reducing the whopping backlog of pending lawsuits, some of the latter going as far back as the “revolutionary” years of the P/NDC regimes.

We are also forced to highlight the fact that a purported “legal wit” like Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, who ought to be expected to be even more conversant with the Ghanaian judicial system than most of his fellow lawyers, recently decided to discredit our national system of justice by jejunely taking his case to the African Bar Association or some such trans-national or continental coterie of lawyers, on the rather cynical and outright contemptible grounds that his very existence in Ghana was being jeopardized by a politically charged judicial system. Not surprisingly, the African Bar Association, most of whose membership had evidently closely followed the sanguinary and decadent career of Mr. Tsikata, promptly and roundly rebuffed his lurid and knavish overtures.

Indeed, anybody who does not believe that Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata received condign justice in the court of Ms. Henrietta Abban needs to revisit the Rawlings-Tsikata days of rampant official abductions and covert and summary assassinations and then comparatively fast-forward into the present in order to draw the relevant conclusions. To be certain, about the only injustice committed in the Tsikata trial regards the evidently interminable patience of Justice Abban, that almost criminally ensured that the convict, a certified terrorist and a thief, would be afforded the longest judicial leash in Ghanaian history. The good news, however, is that barratry and all, even longevity has temporal bounds. Thus, ultimately, the poison-maker had to be hoisted by his own petard.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of 18 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005) and “Abena Anin'waa: Letters to My Daughter” (Atumpan Publications/lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: [email protected]
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2008

The author has 4793 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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