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15.10.2004 General News

Bamba Is Criminally Culpable - Tony Aidoo

By Chronicle

Accra, Oct. 14, Chronicle -- Former Deputy Defence Minister, Dr. Tony Aidoo has observed that Mr. Moctar Bamba is criminally culpable and that the hurry with which government has declared the disgraced ex-Presidential Minister as not corrupt is just another example of shielding its officials whilst chasing after other political opponents with indecent haste.

“This is a clear evidence of the government's double standards and the selective justice that we have been talking about. In any democratic society, justice and the rule of law must be allowed to operate indiscriminately, but since the NPP came into power, we have seen that the government's conception of justice is where the law is used to criminalize, harass and intimidate its political opponents for the purposes of destroying the opponents.”

Speaking exclusively to The Chronicle in an interview on Wednesday on the declaration by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Papa Owusu Ankomah that the government would not prosecute Alhaji Bamba because he did not commit any crime and that he only allowed himself to be misused, Dr. Aidoo expressed disgust and shock and stated that it was unfortunate that Bamba was left off the hook despite the clear handwriting on the walls of fraud, impersonation, forgery and others.

“In the case of Bamba, we have seen that against the weight of evidence of corruption, fraud, abuse of office and other forms of criminal conduct perpetuated by him and others under the very nose of the President, the government has decided not to prosecute him with the reason that he allowed himself to be misused and that he is not criminally culpable, this is an escape route that the good people of this country must not allow this government to take.” He added

He observed that allowing oneself to be misused means being careless in the discharge of the roles and the responsibilities assigned to one, adding that in criminal law, carelessness means recklessness, which a prosecutor must prove against a defendant when that prosecution cannot prove intent.

“The government uses this as a protective shield for NPP party functionaries, family and relatives and friends of the party. This cannot be contrived from the statement made by President Kufuor at Cape-Coast that it would be unwise for the party to expose the party members publicly because it would bring the image of the government into disrepute.”

The NDC firebrand stated that taking the current stand of the government into consideration, the future development of the country looked very bleak.

He compared Alhaji Bamba's case to the infamous Quality Grain case of which the late Justice Afreh, stated during his 42-page document ruling that there was no evidence that the convicted persons who were exercising their duties benefitted directly from the fraudulent activities of Mrs. Juliet Cotton or no collective intention to assist her to defraud the nation yet they were still culpable of the crime because they failed to discharge their duties under the circumstance.

Dr. Aidoo said, the implication of Afreh's argument in the ruling was that they were reckless in their actions, which was akin to what the government is saying in the case of Bamba.

“Strictly in terms of the application of recklessness, Bamba is criminally culpable just us Kwame Peprah and others, but the situation gets even more sinister when we examine other material facts relating separately to the Peprah and co., case to Bamba's case. In the Quality Grain, the offence was causing financial loss to the state but in the case of Bamba, we are dealing with several cases such as fraud, corruption, impersonation, deceit, lying under oath, misuse of President's office and others,” he said.

Dr. Aidoo continued, “All the principles of criminal justice must be applied to everybody but the same principles do not apply in the case of the Quality Grain trial. Section 179a of the criminal Code 1960 defines the offences of causing financial loss to the state and specified the grounds on which an accused person can be deemed to have criminal culpability, we would note that in the specification of the grounds of criminal culpability, there is no mention of an intention to do something.”

He noted, “It is my humble submission that Justice Afreh misdirected himself on the law of conspiracy and thereby unjustly convicted the Quality Grain trial.

Because to prove conspiracy, the prosecutor requires not only the evidence of the people that the meeting took place but also the people at the meeting, at least one of the party, the principle offender had the intention to commit the criminal offence and that the accomplices knew about the intention of the principle offender to commit a crime but did nothing about it.”

Dr. Aidoo concluded, “It is a principle of administrative law that no court or a judge has the power to introduce into the definition of an offence what parliament has not meant to be that of the offence and when it is clear that parliament itself removed even that defining element, the court or judge is even more estoppad from introducing that element of the offence.”

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