Today, 30th June 2004, marks the 22nd anniversary of the 1982 killings of three high court judges and a retired military officer. The unveiling of the busts of the three murdered high court judges, two days ago, was the high point of the remembrance ceremony commemorating the anniversary.
Your authoritative Lens newspaper brings to its numerous readers a privileged peek into the thoughts of His Excellency, Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana's head of state at the time this incident took place in 1982.
The Lens sought to know what President Rawlings had to tell Ghanaians and the world at large about the unveiling of the busts of the murdered judges. The following constitutes the response we obtained.
“I find it commendable that the Judicial Council has deemed it fit to institute this action to honour the memory of the three judges who were victims of a gruesome murder. This move represents another step in our collective fight to ensure that such crimes should never go unpunished and is line with what the revolutionary leadership of the PNDC at the time demonstrated by ensuring that an impartial and fair inquiry was instituted to go into the case and to bring the perpetrators of this crime to book; this entailed the ultimate punishment for those were involved, including a Member of the PNDC in the person of Amartey Kwei.”
“The Revolutionary justice of the time ensured the setting up of a most credible enquiry which through its findings and the resultant penalties enshrined the culture of Truth, fairness, equity and justice in the nation. The Will of the revolutionary leadership to exact maximum punishment on one of its own and those who were used by him to commit that heinous crime was the clearest demonstration of the high sense of justice and morality that the Revolution strove to enshrine in the country. By this action, the PNDC made a categorical pronouncement that it would not countenance the culture of impunity and that no one, no matter how high was above the law. This was the quality of justice and fairness that the Revolution brought to this country.”
“Questions will continue to be asked about why the unveiling ceremony did not include the bust of the retired military officer. Besides, the council needs to do much more than this, to truly demonstrate its commitment to the spirit of justice, fairness and equity. The loud silence of the judiciary in the face of the barbaric crime that was committed in Dagbon two years ago, which until now remains unresolved has not done much to enhance the image of the judiciary. The unfortunate impression has been created that when an injustice is done to its members the judiciary is up in arms but when other equally important members of the society are affected, the judiciary does not seem to care very much.”
“The fact that two decades after the Revolutionary leadership of the PNDC showed the way of true justice by setting up an impartial investigative machinery into the killings of four individuals, the quality of justice in the country should so retrogress that two whole years after the killing of Ya-Na and forty other individuals not one single culprit has been found and punished. Unlike the murder in 1982, this barbarity happened in broad daylight, after three days of shooting, and within the proximity of security forces in the area. In spite of all these, not a single person has been arrested. This speaks volumes about how low the quality of justice has fallen from the heights it attained during the Revolution.”
“That the Judicial Council will be silent in the face of all this completely baffles me. I thought justice is supposed to be blind and not selective. It is my considered view that such deliberate crimes must receive the same treatment regardless of the class, ethnicity or segment of society that the victims belong to. Alas, what impression is being given to the world today?”
“Besides, what has the Judicial Council done to ensure fairness for victims of politically motivated 'justice' like the former ministers who were jailed in the Quality Grains trial? What of Charles Quansah who is a scapegoat languishing in Nswaman to cover up the real sponsors of the killers of the 34 women? Where is then conviction of the judiciary in the face of the massive abuses of the justice system that threaten to undermine the very security and stability of the nation?”
“Even if the quality of justice that the Revolution brought about in the case of the 1982 murders cannot be matched by the current regime, the least that is expected is for them to acknowledge and salute the memories of the many uniformed and civilian personnel who died to bring about that superlative worth of justice, the restoration of the moral fibre of the society, true probity and accountability that rekindled the fight against corruption and made Ghana second to none in the world. Indeed these people laid down their lives to bring about the quality of justice, the high sense of voluntarism, nationalism, and people empowerment and freedom that resulted in the rapid and massive development that the nation witnessed at the time. But instead of acknowledging these ordinary folks, what the current regime has done is to rather take steps to prevent the honouring of the memories of these noble people who laid down their lives to bring about the kind of justice which 22 years on is impossible to match.”
“Despite the quality of that justice, those who were and are opposed to the revolution continued for 20 years to use that issue to pursue a vicious and deceitful political agenda. The issue of the judges murder was only a convenient tool for them to attempt to undermine the morality of the Revolutionary Justice which they loathe.
“It therefore comes as no surprise that two decades on they are unable to even distantly match that quality in the issue of the killing of the Ya-Na and forty others.”