The Chief Justice last week made a statement about the attitude of Ghanaians to corruption that seemed to confirm a certain suspicion about the Ghanaian character.
The Chief Justice, presenting the State of Justice Administration in Ghana at the seventh Chief Justice Forum in Takoradi, said the Judiciary's determination to resolve the problem of corruption and improve public satisfaction in the judiciary had been bogged down by apathy.
Specifically, she said: “Time and again, I have received complaints of alleged corruption scandals. Whenever I have asked for evidence so we can proceed against the alleged culprits, the complainants suddenly developed cold feet”
We recall that some time ago, a survey conducted in this country came out with a verdict, that after the police the Judiciary was perceived to be the most corrupt institution.
Following from this revelation, the then Chief Justice mounted a crusade to weed out corruption. He did start the process by putting in place certain structures.
We recall further that his unrelenting assault on the institution won the applause of the larger society.
It is not known how far he went, but we would not be surprised that he achieved very little, and the reason would be what the current Chief Justice has placed a finger on: that beyond complaining and whispering — with one half of the mouth covered — Ghanaians do not go the whole hog by naming names and shaming them.
When the President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, called for evidence so his government could go after the guilty with a whip, the matter became politicised. And yet daily, relentlessly, all manner of people make all manner of allegations about corruption.
This state of affairs gets even sadder when highly placed personalities also stop short at allegations and are not able to substantiate with evidence.
It seems to us on the Times that this is the farthest everybody wants to go – stop at allegations. Particularly in an election season, it becomes convenient to leave it at this level because it feeds into populist gossip.
Meanwhile, the rumour buzzes on, public officials such as judges bear the brunt of public ire and every judgement is suspected to be tainted with corruption.
As the survey found a few years ago, everybody in Ghana thinks judges are corrupt. Nobody is bold to come out with evidence and yet we hear it everywhere. Unfortunately what we hear are rumours without substance.
This paper thinks that the problem with us as a people is that we do not pause to check on what we are told: we don't put people on the spot to prove their allegations.
Perhaps the reason is that most of the time, we want to believe the allegation, anyway.
With this attitude, how do we get culprits prosecuted? How do we shame the names?