As The Court Pleases!

Sat, 30 Jun 2012 Source: Bawa, Abdul Razak

One central issue that has caught my attention and that of many Ghanaians for some time now, since Chief Justice Georgina Wood has been the head of the Judicial Service, is the allegations of corruption and open bias that the judicial service is enmeshed in. My interest in the judiciary is obvious for a number of reasons, part of which includes the need to restore sanity into the once noble profession, and letting future lawyers and judges know that corruption is no longer part of the administration of justice.

Another reason is that whiles politicians represent the will of the people, the judiciary represents the soul of the people. So it is imperative to maintain the values that define us and who we are. As the scripture say, what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and losses his soul?

I can’t agree less with the saying that it is good for the wind to blow so that we can see the underbelly of the fowl. The case brought against a former minister of Tourism, under former President John Agyekum Kufuor and currently the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Jake Otanka Obestsebi Lamptey, in the matter of the acquisition of his bungalow, has further exposed the greed, selfishness and lack of sensitivity on the part of the allure of power and all its accoutrements that drives our political office seekers.

The Supreme Court did not consider the supreme national interest, and rather gave judgment in favour of Jake. In their judgment they said what Jake did was not illegal. The question is, was it moral?

It is said that there is no morality in law, but the people who administer justice have conscience and in all their judgment they should be guided by their conscience. It is not everything that is written in law that is to guide them.

The question I asked myself after the verdict was, was the policy of re-design or “in-filling “of governments lands or buildings in the national interest. The answer is both yes and no. yes, if it was going to be redeveloped and either sold to civil servants or be occupied by civil servants, as has been the case all this while, and no because, let’s ask ourselves, how many civil or public servants can afford to either rent or buy those properties at prime areas such as Cantonments, Airport Residential Area, Roman Ridge etc.

These areas are highly expensive areas, and one must belong to the upper class to ever contemplate staying in these prime or plush areas. But how much was those lands sold to cronies and friends of the former regime led by John Kufuor?

You don’t validate a policy that technically and realistically speaking is not right. The argument being advanced by members of the NPP is that members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under the leadership of Jerry John Rawlings also benefited from the same policy. In fact the policy came into effect in 1995. So they also found it convenient to continue, and sold the lands at ridiculously low prices to themselves; one begins to wonder whose interest politicians have at heart.

When you come into office, having made so many promises, and realizing that certain laws or policies are inimical to the growth and the well-being of the majority of your people, what you do is to abolish them not to continue and later turn round to tell us someone started it. An example will suffice.

After assuming office in 2000; the Kufuor regime felt the Criminal Libel Law was impeding the work of the media. What did they do, the law was abolished. Why the same yardstick couldn’t be applied to the matter of the state properties and lands.

The Supreme Court Judges, I don’t know whose interest they were also serving when they pronounced judgment in favour of Jake. Lawyers refer to themselves or among each other as learned friends. So we the ordinary citizens always expect them to be learned beyond just the law, but consider our long cherished values and traditions as a people, which is why we have what is called Common Law. After all laws are made to reflect the wishes and aspirations of a people, taking into accounts their history and values.

I am not for a moment questioning the integrity of the Supreme Court Judges who have over the years maintained the sanctity of this country and our judicial system. But as they say in the legal parlance, I with all respect disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court, as this is going to set a bad precedence and rather strengthen the resolve of politicians who are hell bent on draining the Sacred Cow called Ghana, dry.

We live in a country where politicians have only done one thing right, which is when it comes to appropriating what they need and think they deserve by way of emoluments and entitlements.

The only arm of government that has held the executive and the legislature in check is the judiciary. But increasingly and over the years the Judiciary is also losing its integrity and unnecessarily coming under attack, which is not good for its image.

A lot of people are beginning to question most of their decision, and what inform those decisions. This used not to be the case.

They should have asked Jake, in the unlikely event that the NPP comes back to power in the near future, where was he expecting the ministers and appointees of the government to stay?

Another interesting twist to the whole saga is that, while the NDC under the policy bought or sold lands at very deplorable areas because they don’t know what is nice, the NPP chose instead to buy and sell to themselves properties in town and at plush areas.

What do we expect to bequeath to posterity, the future generations who are yet unborn, if we sell everything that we have and own.

The judges backed the wrong tree, period!

By Razak Bawa: razakbawa@gmail.com

Columnist: Bawa, Abdul Razak