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Opinions Wed, 30 Jun 2010

Administration of Laws - Ghana Desperately Needs Outside Help!

By: Kwaku A. Danso


In a Daily Guide article posted on GLU forum of June 29, 2010, under the title “Ana’s Cocoa Smugglers Freed”, we read:


“The fourteen security officers who were captured in a secret video recording by Anas Aremeyaw Anas - an investigative journalist - allegedly aiding a group of people to smuggle cocoa beans from Ghana to La Cote d’Ivoire have been discharged by an Accra Circuit Court.


The court, presided over by Patience Mills Tetteh, discharged the accused persons and disposed off the case for want of prosecution after their lawyers requested the court to do so on grounds that DSP P.K. Frimpong, the prosecutor, failed to show up in court without any notification. On three occasions, the case was adjourned at the insistence of the prosecution, who prayed the court for more time to complete investigations in the matter.” (Daily guide, 2010, Jun.29)


I have been following charges and cases of public malfeasance, graft, corruption and open thievery for decades now in Ghana, and it seems to me what should be done in Ghana as Priority number one for any leader is a total overhaul AND training of the employees of our Attorney Generals department and State prosecutorial arms throughout the nation. With so much moneys unaccounted for and debts piling up with projects uncompleted, there is no doubt somebody must go to jail! I wonder why nobody can find socio-economic and human solution to this dilemma! Come ooooonnnn!!!!

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Putting the Pride Aside -


There is an English saying that pride goes before a fall. It is time Ghanaian educated swallowed their pride and admitted they have failed in half a century of administration of justice under the rules of law. Ghana has gone through three interrupted constitutional governments and we still don’t have it right! Our current and previous Presidents attended law school and President Mills was teaching law for 35 years! It just has not manifested itself in the societal changes in this area yet! Ghanaian Attorneys General cannot seem to be able to prosecute crimes and anybody in the public service can take whatever they want and steal in the open and can get away with it! Glaring cases of open public theft including a Speaker of the House of Parliament stealing public property, $295 million foreign grants in 2008 not accounted for, and the abuse of public trust and misappropriation of funds relating to the Ghana@50 and Jubilee House over-invoicing and criminal mismanagement in the $100 millions of dollars, still have not been prosecuted in the last two years! Scandals and public corruption revealed in foreign courts relating to a $7 million bribe described as “consulting fees” and paid to PV Obeng in the award of a monopoly operation of the Ghana cement factory, as well as the recent case of the British Mabey & Johnson bribery admissions and British court proceedings in 2009 relating to public works in Ghana in the 1990s, our AG office under President Mills has not concluded investigations let alone prosecute anybody. One can give more examples but whatever the case, it is obvious our nation lacks the competency to investigate and prosecute crimes at the national level. The local police services even seem to be much better. One wonders why the British Colonial system in the 1950s that this writer witnessed, was able to institute quick actions of justice!


Whatever it takes, I think we need a team of maybe retired officers of the Scotland Yard and FBI and maybe a Singapore retired AG or Police Chief, to come to Ghana and train our people, whiles assembling all the Judges in the nation at one place also for 3 days non-stop fasting discipline and dedication to the nation under either existing or new laws to speed up the prosecutorial system to help reduce crimes and malfeasance in public service to less than say 0.001% (1 in 100,000) per year.


Paying for Quality Services and Results –


There is a saying that “you get what you pay for”. Whiles our colonial-minded “slide rule” executives are willing to pay foreigners ten times what they will pay a Ghanaian with the same or even better qualifications, we should not forget to pay these law school graduates at the highest level also, at least according to the society. I don't see why a Bank officer in Ghana should make more than a Lawyer at the Attorney General’s office, and sometimes even with a car or reduced interest car loan! There are many ways of raising revenue and solving such problems. If for example the government gives an inducement to the police to share in the revenue from traffic tickets, fines and related incidences, part of this can go as a positive inducement to boost up the salaries of the lawyers at the Attorney Generals offices also. So nobody should tell me we don't have money to pay them well! Many cities in America require their police, whiles not giving a direct quota, to give offending motorists traffic tickets as a source of revenue. In recent years one technology is being used, where electronic cameras posted at strategic traffic light locations are yielding large revenues for some cities. It is sheer mental laziness that I see in Ghana! Our people are not using their creative minds to solve problems and hence increase revenue, and hence their own salaries! It is a disgrace to be asking foreigners to help balance our national budgets and seek help in installing computers from outsiders. Shame! Perhaps we should learn a lesson from what American multinational corporations call “profit centres”. If a division of a company can’t justify they are balancing their revenue to their expenses, they may be cut back or closed down. Why should we pay for a court house in a district that cannot prosecute any cases in months and keep postponing cases! Why should we pay for police officers who only parade the streets with road barriers to collect bribes at night and sometimes even in the day time! We should also evaluate these officers of the AG office, the BNI, Judges and prosecutors on how efficiently they resolve cases, reduce case postponements on civil and criminal cases, and the police on arrest performance measures. With all the vehicles on the road that don't meet minimum safety and emission standards, the police and AG office can rake in a minimum of $20,000 per day provided of course we find ways to monitor them so they don't take cash as bribes.

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It is quite possible also that the prosecution may have been bribed to drop the case. In this case the article said:


“The Judge, who looked surprised and wondered whether the prosecution was running away from the case, queried “the prosecutor is not here and there is nobody to represent him? Why?”’


Ghana is not doing well with a combination of greed, selfishness and total lack of skills. It is quite possible the prosecutor has been bribed, but how does one investigate that? Who does the prosecutor, DSP P.K. Frimpong, report to? Where is the BNI? Why is there no punishment or repercussions for bad public behaviour?


Breakdown of Our Modern Democracy -


It has become obvious that Ghana has a broken down administrative and justice system, no matter who praises us from outside and who we compare ourselves with! As much as democracy is sweet, our traditional system seems to have been swifter with justice than the white man's system. Crimes were less. When I was a child, in the 1950s to 1960s, I heard of only 1-2 murders in my town and maybe 3 robberies. In 20 years that is far lower than any American town ever dream of! We may also add that economically people depended on themselves, and not relying on outsiders for economic assistance. It would appear then, that with Western education and urban migration, our people have fallen backwards, expecting to reap where they have not sown, and even lost their ability to grow crops and harvest to feed themselves! With the failed expectations of Western education for economic survival if not modern living, has also been the introduction of many petty crimes, dishonesty within families and in public life. In addition is the con artistry that have even been given names over the years called “kalabule” in the 1970s/80s, and now called “sakawa”, the latter with even a spiritual Voodoo-type connotation. When public crimes and corruption become acceptable as standard business in any society, personal as well as in public business and administration of justice, the society can be described as ‘broken down”. There is an abundance of Churches in Ghana, but one cannot ascribe an associated increase in morality and ethics. That is due to the ordinary person’s desperation and helplessness.

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Based on these, our friends who believe in Chieftaincy should push the national house of chiefs to come out with alternate mix of justice systems. In the villages many sleep without doors locked! In the white man’s educated system people build houses in the city with barbed wire on top of concrete walls. There is something sickening about it!


Are there Solutions? - Education allows us the option to read and if we can afford it, the Internet to read about other nations we have not even visited. Is the problem in the cities economically based? Is it from unemployment? If so what are the long term solutions? The American example using traffic light cameras is an example that works for one society. What will work for us? If Ghana police can help increase revenue from traffic violations by some $20,000 per day, we can perhaps buy more motorcycles or even have some assembled in Ghana! Yes, there are solutions!


Shall we give free land to the unemployed parading in traffic with imported cheese sticks and dog chains for c2 per day profit at best? At least if these people, mostly from the villages, have land to grow tomatoes, corn, cabbage, onions, fruits, they can sell and add to the national GDP while maintaining self dignity! It is time we admitted city life, white shirt and tie after the BA Oxon with promise of the white man's job, with bungalow and car, has fallen apart!


We need a new paradigm shift, as some people put it, but for me I'd say we need a new leadership that will assemble some persons of "superior intelligence" as Nana Kyei Amponsah has said on our GLU forum, to find solutions to our totally broken down society! It is hoped that Ghanaian leadership will put the pride aside and call on the Embassies of the USA, Britain and Singapore, to assist us in the administration of Justice. All the foreign grants and loans mean nothing if year after year we are still begging! Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore called on Kwame Nkrumah in 1959 when their nation was a new independent state, as stated in his book “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000”. Singapore has managed their nation to jump from the same or lesser economic status, and in 35 years became a first world nation in not only Economics, but in human development indices, crime and social stability, and in technological application in society. It is worthwhile for our educated men in office to swallow the pride and call on Singapore to assist us in solving our social breakdown problems. If the president is sincere, he will accept that whatever we have done is not working!


And he will heed external advice from peer nations and our own experts who have gone through the experience, and not just money to balance our budget!

Dr. Kwaku A. Danso, Email: k.danso@comcast.net East Legon, Accra & Livermore. California, USA.

Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.