General News of Sat, 19 May 201864
Nana Oye Lithur bounces back
Nana Oye Lithur, former Minister of Gender and Social Protection under the erstwhile Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, appears to be bouncing back with her human rights activities after about eight years of being silent.
She seems to be among a group of human rights activists who are putting pressure on the United Nations and President Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to bring justice to bear on dictator Yahaya Jammeh of The Gambia.
Nana Oye Lithur was very vociferous during the era of the erstwhile Kufuor’s NPP administration, especially on the issue of the murder of some Ghanaians by Jammeh’s government in The Gambia.
However, it is becoming clear that Nana Oye Lithur finds her voice only when the NPP is ruling, leaving many to wonder if she is not being selective in her works.
On Wednesday she was at a news conference organised by the Centre for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD-Ghana) in Accra appealing passionately to the international community and President Akufo-Addo to institute an investigation into the gruesome killing of those 44 Ghanaians in The Gambia about a decade ago.
“We want ex-president Yaya Jammeh to be prosecuted and punished for murdering and killing innocent Africans who were seeking greener pasture, let’s all come together and let’s plead and urge His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, to take this matter up,” she charged.
Until her appointment as minister by President Mahama in 2013, Nana Oye Lithur was a strong human rights advocate and head of the local chapter of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in Ghana.
She later formed her own NGO – Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC).
Interestingly, it was during the tenure of the NDC that the Gambian government paid some compensation to 44 Ghanaians killed by Yahaya Jammeh’s brutal regime.
The NDC government at the time allegedly squandered a chunk of the $500,000 paid as compensation on state-sponsored funeral for those killed, but Nana Oye Lithur was never heard raising a voice against the outrageous expenses.
In Kufuor’s time, Oye Lithur was all over the place fighting for the rights of people, particularly women, whose human rights she claimed had been abused.
Using then Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which she led at the time, she held vigils for the murdered 44 Ghanaians and pressurized President Kufuor to get Jammeh to own up over the gruesome killings.
After about two years of forensic investigations by a joint ECOWAS and UN team, it recommended the exhumation of the corpses for a befitting burial in line with customary practices.
Therefore, Ghanaian and Gambian authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin implementing the recommendations therein, culminating in the payment of $500,000 to Ghana.
Although the team did not find the Gambian Government culpable, it blamed the killing on the Gambian security agency. The compensation was mostly spent on the funeral.
Another instance of Nana Oye Lithur’s activism came in 2008 when she filed a suit against the Kufuor government which was taking steps to send back 23 refugees to Liberia on the instructions of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).
At that time, the war in Liberia was well over and there was a democratically elected government, led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Nana Oye Lithur claimed that her clients were still not safe.
The court, presided over by Justice P.K. Gyaesayor, dismissed the case in April 2008 and the UNHCR was able to carry out its repatriation exercise.
When she was minister, she was seen on social media happily dancing barefooted while a policeman in uniform – who was believed to be her officially assigned bodyguard – held her shoes.
This attracted comments, with most people asking why and how the minister would make a man who was supposed to be providing her with security, to carry her shoes around.
She was also part of the NDC ministers who signed a petition for President John Mahama to release three NDC incarcerated hoodlums (Montie 3).