31.01.2013 Feature Article

Now Is The Hour, Supreme Court—Part 1

Justice William AtugubaJustice William Atuguba
31.01.2013 LISTEN

Incidentally, Sunday, June 30, 2013, will be the 31st anniversary celebration of the Martyrs' Day in Ghana. Just as Uganda too celebrates her martyrs' day annually, hers is connected with the genocide of some group of tribesmen who were slaughtered en masse by the white masters and that must have accounted and gingered them to pave way by acting as a catalyst for independence.

It probably led to the swift attainment of self rule to gain independence from the colonialists in the 60s. Unlike the Ugandans, Ghana's version of the martyrs' day came about as a result of the fair judgment that some of our honest, impartial, dedicated and distinguished judges determined to give in a case that involved some group of persons – for the purposes of Ghanaians under 30 years of age, foreigners and novices alike i.e. it was workers of GIHOC – Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation - and the military government of the day – the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) with Chairman Jerry Rawlings in the saddle.

The stage was set and the military junta was woefully defeated on technicalities and that impregnated and later hatched the wicked and barbarous action that ensued on June 30, 1982.

In our case, it was not foreign mercenaries but our own compatriots who clandestinely and cruelly masterminded the heinous murder of the three distinguished high court judges and the Army Major, Sam Acquah, the then Personnel Manager as sacrificial lambs in cold blood. Pity isn't it? Justices Cecilia Koranteng Addow, (then a 6-weeek old nursing mother), Sarkodie and Agyepong became the victims of that dastard inhuman treatment.

As high court judges there and then, the three personalities could have been Supreme Court judges today or retired as such within the spate of 30 years if premature death had not laid its icy hands on them. Allegedly, their brutal murder had the mastermind of the powers that be; because, since the late Joachim Amartey Kwei, a leading member of the PNDC, was by no means privy to it, no sane person could convince anybody to dissociate the government from the orchestrated bestial act.

A book entitled 'The Judges' Murder Trial of 1983' written by one George Kwaku Agyekum, a leading member and chairman of the Tribunal that tried the suspects J. Amartey Kwei, L/Cpl. S. Kwame Amedeka, L/Cpl. Michael Senya, Johnny Dzandu and Tony Tekpor clearly testifies that evidence in the Case No. 24/83. Other members of the public tribunal were Mad. Comfort Esther Afua Doe, S/Sgt. Mumuni Seidu, Jenkins Kofie, L/Cpl. Mumuni Seidu and L/Cpl. Moses Tonka while Mrs. Joyce Bamford Addo was then the Acting DPP. In addition, Mr.G.E.K. Aikins was the Attorney-General. The author does not really want to, nor intend to rake the already healed wounds of the bereaved families and dear ones but would like the youth of today know about the forgotten history of the sordid past of the slain judges and the major; and more importantly, the predicament of the judicial service and its judges without whom the institution wouldn't have been there.

As the martyrs' day has gradually become an annual affair, thanks to the Kufuor Administration through whose instrumentality this Day has been established as remembrance day, it is imperative therefore that they also (these 9 judges) set unparalleled and unprecedented record never before set on the continent to speak the truth.

Just as a portion of the famous and celebrated Dr. Ephraim Amu's song entitled, 'Yen ara asase ni, eye aboo denden ma yen, mogya na nananom hwiee gu nya de too ho ma yen' continues with . . . “Aduru me ne wo nso so, se ye beye bi atoa so, nimdee ntra so kotokrane ne apese me nko menya, adi yen bra mu dem, ama yen asaase yi ato mu see”, the subsequent chorus is repeated twice - 'Oman no se ebeye yie, oman no se ennye yie, eye nsennaho se amanfoo bra na ekyere' – it therefore behoves on the judiciary to also set an exemplary character without fear or favour so as to be recognized, immortalized and truly remembered one day when they were dead and gone.

It is however hoped and believed that the panel of 9 judges that has been empanelled by Her Ladyship, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, presided over by Justice Atuguba, would equally stand up to the task ahead and be counted amongst the world's best as heroes/heroines to follow the footsteps of their forbearers.

In the same vein the break or make of Ghana and moreover, the entire destiny of Ghanaians rested on the integrity and shoulders of Dr. Afari Djan, but, as arrogant as he is, boisterously threw it to the dogs because Ghanaians' usual traditional national anthem, 'Fa ma Nyame syndrome' i.e. just give everything to God and let sleeping dogs lie was so expectant but never came from the vanquished as the case alleged to be involved with enormous criminality was sent to the court for redress as the final arbiters.

By law, they are to ensure that justice was seen to be administered to soften the volatile situation otherwise, what wasn't expected to happen in Ghana, could easily turn around and over -take the whole country by surprise.

The writer has no knowledge in soothsaying but your guess could be as good as his. The Akan saying, “se brebre ammma a, anka ammanee ammma” literally translated in English as thus – Which of the two is to blame? Is it the one who brought sugar-cane home or the housefly that threw an invitation to its numerous friends to the sugar-cane party in that house?

Furthermore, they should bear in mind that it was as a result of fair and impartial judgment without fear or favour that cost the precious lives of their seniors. In that case, they should also try to emulate that shining example for the world to know that indeed, our judicial system was not fraught with timidity nor corruption, but right on track to kowtow anybody let alone countenance any shred of manipulation from the government of the day because their duty was to serve Mother Ghana and not to satisfy the whims and caprices of any single individual.

In a case between the government of Ghana, i.e. the Republic versus Mr. E.K. Sallah, the then General Manager of the GNTC during which the within-named was reportedly sacked by the government with Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia as prime minister, the former sent the purported unlawful dismissal case to the law court for redress.

During the ensuing legal process, it was evident that the complain -ant would win his case and that prompted the premier to rush to make some ugly noises to dent his political image by shouting hoarse from the roof tops thus – “no court, no court, indicating that as far as he was concerned and as long as he remained the prime minister of the republic, certainly, no, repeat no court in this country had the guts or jurisdiction to continue sitting on that particular case.

Many people including the layman on the street and the legal fraternity thought the untenable manner the prime minister reacted to nullify the legal procedures then ongoing, to deprive that public servant in that civil suit, must have accounted for a decline in his democratic credentials.

That really must have incurred the displeasure of many people in and outside the country. And this should probably be a test case for future law students to flex their muscles.

While this electoral fraud case was quite different from that of the GNTC scenario, it is assumed that the Supreme Court would be the first to admit and quickly dispose of the case to leave it to rest naturally to set the hearts of majority of Ghanaians at peace.

However, the following are some salient points the three Ghanaians contesting the case in court must base their arguments to win the favour from the learned jurists :

i) It has always been a crime to take advantage of incumbency to win elections but certainly, politicians in this part of the world have on many occasions glossed over this aspect to bulldoze their way to many a time, win elections with false pretences.

ii) Certainly, there have been some instances that the incumbent has used the military to fly jet fighters to the hinterlands to frighten the village folks to the extent that failure by the electorates to vote for one's particular party might warrant the destruction of their villages, farms and its produce and poisoning their river bodies.

iii) Equally of importance is the ploy by which the incumbent used the police and the military to intimidate the populace was also another fraudulent mechanism that was unacceptable in any civilized society worldwide.

iv) Except, the physically handicapped persons like the blind, deaf and dumb who may not know exactly what was going on in the country, but to quickly dispatch a team of armed police (whether plain-clothed or whatever) to the campaign office of another contestant with the intention of seizing valuable documents and electoral strategies was a very criminal offence of the highest order that must not be entertained and swept under the carpet so easily.

v) Another aspect of very high criminality and fraudulent intent was the means the incumbent was purported to have used its communication outlet to gag or disrupt the mouthpiece of the opposition's strong telecommunication network was equally unacceptable anywhere in the world.

That means is queer and could only be a crude method that probably was in vogue during the Dark Age or Stone Age eras. The government cannot explicitly dissociate itself from complicity in the NCA's technical department's (near the South Africa High Commission at Labone Estates, Accra) gagging process whereby Oman FM and NET 2 channel/network respectively, specifically were both jammed by the misfits out there.

vi) The huge display of monetary gifts to the electorates countrywide is also testamentary evidence of fraud and the government cannot defend itself of not using state resources or dishing its hands into the national kitty (purse). Mr. Kwabena Dufuor, did you hear that? Not until you are dead and gone, one day, surely, not sooner than later, you'd be called upon to answer for your criminal intent and complicity in this electoral fraud, trust me.

vii) That as a result of all these enumerated fraudulent practices, the State must have lost some colossal debts which Ghanaians yet unborn, and through no fault of theirs, might be called upon to pay to be able to live a decent life after this generation has phased off.

viii) That since the conduct or otherwise of Dr. Afari Djan and his accomplices constituted a criminal intent, that action or inaction could best be described in the legal terms as 'treason' because Ghana could have been in flames by now if not but for the wisdom and foresighted -ness of the leadership of the opposition parties.

ix) That if Dr. Afari Djan was proved beyond reasonable doubt that in fact this charge being preferred against him found him guilty, the distin -guished jury or panel of judges should never ever spare him the rod but to jail him and show him the entry point of the four walls of the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons to serve as a better lesson to all future occupants of the Electoral Commission chair.

x) That in pursuant to the declaration and/or the pronouncement of the final verdict, the unqualified should be told that it was by an accident that he was declared the winner of the just ended elections to forestall peace.

How many Ghanaians think that they are wiser and more sensible than their brothers/sisters from Rwanda and Cote d'Ivoire? Whatever the answer is please keep it to yourself. The author is neither a soothsayer nor a doomsday prophet who has landed on the Ghanaian soil today.

Please help me find an easy answer to the cheating that took place during the days of Isaac in the Bible. Many Christians know the scriptures about how Madam Rebecca helped to outwit the husband Isaac to transfer the heir apparent position to Jacob instead of Esau.

Regular readers of the Bible know how Rebecca cleverly and cunningly helped switch the hierarchy position from the father and the devastating effect on Jacob, the beneficiary. What do you think would have happened to Jacob if he had not fled to his uncle Laban for refuge?

Would it not have ended the life of Jacob if he had not with the decision of the wicked mother fled to Laban in a distant place for out of sight is out of mind? Do you again see how he had to go through some tough ordeals before and after he had left his tradition home?

How many readers think that Rebecca did not play the wicked and criminal part of Afari Djan in this biblical scenario?

Are conscience and intellect bedfellows? Certainly, not! They are quite apart and have no relationship in anyway whatsoever. Both can be separable and have no bearing with education at all. Fellow countrymen and women, as the men and women of the Supreme Court are mortal beings born of woman, definitely they may be infallible; but that does not mean that their infallibility should however transcend the borders of conscience. As human beings, occasionally, they may make mistakes but whatever mistakes they make should not and never be so glaring that even the blind would be able to notice. Birds of the same feather, they say, flock together.

If this saying is anything to by then, the panelists should know that their forebears (Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, Agyepong and Sarkodie) then as High Court judges in 1982,could have been in similar positions as Supreme Court judges today if death, as it were, had not laid its icy hands on them by foul and wicked means. Some of you or many of you may not have been judges then; and even if you were, may have been judges at the magistrate or the circuit courts.

This allusion is not by any means trying to impugn your individual capabilities or integrity but the situation has arisen for the necessary comparison to be made to lay bare the claim that you were their subordinates in service. As final arbiters, the Good Lord expects justice from all of you without exception.

However, these men and woman of integrity and valour, defied all odds and gave a good account of themselves for which the Martyrs' Day (June 30) was instituted and is celebrated every year to commemorate their sordid abduction, blindfolding, cruel murder and final burning of their corpses at Bundase, near Dahwenya on the Accra-Aflao road.

Surprisingly, there was an unexpected torrential rainfall to quench the blazing fire but even though before their bodies were discovered by a certain Fulani herdsman, they were all charred beyond human comprehension and description. The Good Lord showed his powers by pouring torrential rain to stop the horrible cruelty.

***[email protected], Tel: 0277 122 909***

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