29/08/2013: The day that Justice was murdered!

Tue, 3 Sep 2013 Source: Ohemeng, Yaw

What happened in Ghana on Thursday 29th August 2013 led me to adapt a quote from Act 2: Scene 2 of Macbeth thus:

“I thought I heard a voice cry, Justice no more!

Supreme Court does murder justice - the innocent justice,

Justice that knits up the raveled sleeve of peace,

The death of cheating and stealing in our country,

Tainted values’ bath,

Balm of hurt minds, the assuror of peace in the heart,

Chief nourisher of the soul of the wronged and aggrieved”

I am writing this not because I am criticising the verdict. I will leave that for when the written judgements are released. I am rather embarrassed by the process that led to it and the manner in which it was delivered. These belied the sincerity of that verdict. As a friend aptly put it, ‘when these people are stealing they cannot even do it with some finesse’.

We sat through fifty or more days when we were dazzled by the Bar with lawyers exhibiting the utmost of their profession. Justice Atuguba, throughout the hearing, lost no opportunity to remind the lawyers that the Bar and the Bench are two sides of the same coin. Yet when the turn came for the Bench to bedazzle us with their legal prowess, it was such a damp squib. They could not justify the confidence that all, including the Ghana Bar Association, the Archbishops and Bishops, the Imams, the Chiefs, a former Supreme Court Judge, and even a former President asked us to have in them.

The only time they showed any passion was when they hauled citizens before the court to bully them with ‘the awesome powers’ of contempt when they felt their persons had been insulted. When it came to the delivery of the all important ruling, they said nothing to us. They quickly and furtively handed down a judgement whose import took a long time to sink in. It was so hurried that they had to do a later correction. I recall Mr Sam Okudzeto saying on JoyFM News that he was still receiving calls from people asking whether that was all there was to the judgement.

I wrote the following almost effortlessly out of the embarrassment I felt for my country that day. I called it ‘Oh Ghana’.

Oh Ghana;

Your children are divided along political and tribal lines;

Your Presidency is corrupt;

Your Parliament is dysfunctional;

They said your Judiciary is the only one worth trusting;

The prop to the wobbly three-legged chair of government;

Oh Ghana;

Were you being so optimistic in trusting the third leg?

On a certain Thursday, its frailties were shown;

Who will now defend your honour?

Is it the next generation?

The generation which is not being educated;

The generation afflicted by ignorance and disease;

The underclass being produced in their thousands;

Oh Ghana;

A judicial millstone of unfathomable weight;

Has been hung around your honour;

Dropped into the deepest abyss;

Where darkness competes with the black hole;

Where the light of truth will never shine;

Oh Ghana;

The shining star of black Africa;

Black Africa was looking up to you;

How sad you might feel to know;

That the temple where justice is delivered;

Is inhabited by the same African specie;

For whom justice is an alien concept;

Oh Ghana;

With the rights of the influential being so trampled;

How about us?

The ones the High Priest of justice referred to as mere beings;

The ones whose source of power was questioned by the Justices;

Those in whom we vested all our powers;

Betrayal of our trust they have handed us;

And long it has taken them to justify;

Oh Ghana;

Your children who practice Law;

For eight months they showed us;

That which is wrong with our institutions;

Yet your children tasked to correct the wrongs;

Took five minutes to pull a veil over it;

Oh Ghana;

For the sake of peace;

No one will protest;

They silenced all of us by jailing the vocal ones;

Contempt is the non-codified tool they used;

With it they threatened to jail even more;

This they had to do before the judgement;

That when judgement came;

Numbness was the only feeling left in us;

I felt numbed and could only stare into the distance with disbelief that Thursday. I felt that Justice was murdered that day and that the negative impact would reach far into the future. I have spent each day of my adult life picturing what Ghana could be like if we were to do things right. I have lived and worked in different countries. Anytime I see something positive on my travels, I have always wished them for Ghana. I have imagined an Adomi-bridge type across the Densu in Nsawam. I have imagined flats along the banks of the Densu and the Odaw rivers. I have imagined a commercial city that never sleeps in Accra. I have imagined a Ghana where every child has quality education and where people go into politics to alleviate the suffering of their fellow countryman or woman. Is it possible to realise these things in our generation? I doubt it for our institutions are so degenerate to do the right things. Upholding wrongdoing appears to be their speciality.

A group of us has been planning to set up a Leadership Academy in a rural location. We are not after profit. We had wanted to first and foremost help educate children but more importantly pursue a curriculum that would inculcate in them the values of truth, honesty, and leadership through service. After what happened on Thursday, our 29/08, maybe we would be right in no more believing in our country. We should probably retire with a whimper, like our fellow countrymen and women who felt numb on that Thursday when Justice was murdered.

Dr Yaw Ohemeng

Columnist: Ohemeng, Yaw