Chief Justice Must Stop the Madness

Thu, 21 Nov 2013 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

: Shame on the NPP!

I read with horror, the move by the Chief Justice, to investigate utterances made in an illegal recording of a Deputy Minister of state. There are times when I really wonder if we have the right people in the right positions. Leadership is a rare commodity in Ghana indeed. In Ghana, we are not able to pay doctors and teachers, yet, we can find resources to investigate what is clearly an illegality? What the hell is going on? Are we talking about a private conversation here? Is the Chief Justice not aware that the said tape was made without the consent or approval of Vicky Hammah? Is she not aware that this secret taping was done illegally? Will this tape be admissible in court? Why then will she commission an investigation based on illegality? Is this another create loot and share opportunity for the judges? Come on now!

First, the alleged taped conversation of Ms Vicky Hammah has not even been authenticated. Yes, Vicky Hammah has not denied it. However, shouldn’t the tape be authenticated first? How do we know she really said those things? How do we know that the tape has not been doctored?

Ghana, my brother and sisters, is developing a political culture that could easily lead us into all sorts of contortions. This illegal act of surreptitiously taping anyone you want is a very dangerous habit that must not be condoned or nursed. As far as I am concerned, the taping was done without the express or implied permission of Ms. Hammah and therefore cannot be used as evidence for any investigation or request whatsoever. Is the NPP not aware that this tape was illegally obtained?

The NPP must be very careful in its haste to vilify the president or NDC party. Instead of condemning this despicable act, the NPP, head first, is capitalizing on the contents of a recording that was illegally done. Has the NPP no shame? Imagine someone secretly taping former president Kufour or now sitting president Mahama? Imagine that the taping exposes serious national security secrets. Is that what we want? Imagine a recording of a political figure that could create tribal mayhem or jeopardize the country’s political climate. Is this the kind of political climate we want to operate in? Are saying that the president’s private conversations can be tape? If not, then why Vicky Hammah? Should we gleefully justify an illegality, if it helps us screw our political enemies? Have we forgotten all too soon, the akan adage that says, “abaa ye de bor baah nu, enu…aaaa na ye de be bor Takyi”? As the Americans say, what goes around comes around.

Every person in Ghana is entitled to a modicum of privacy. There is absolutely no reason why a private conversation of a Deputy Minister should be taped and made public. It is a despicable act and must be condemned in no uncertain terms. I don’t care what the contents are. I am not going to condone an illegality even though it provides insights into the depraved mind of a Deputy Minister. It must be a fundamental right to have a decent level of privacy. If we don’t take steps to imbed fundamental individual rights into our political culture, we may end up stabilizing a political culture of land mines and proxy firefights.

The Chief Justice should not entertain any request or inquest based on a taping that was illegally made. What the chief Justice is entertaining from the NPP, can be likened to a wee peddler going to the police station to ask for an arrest because a wee customer is refusing to pay for wee that he or she bought and consumed. Selling or consuming wee is illegal. Therefore the court cannot give reprieve to anyone engaged in that illegality. The Courts by way of tradition and rule, do not give reprieve to illegalities. I am not a lawyer and do not play one on TV, but have watched enough Judge Judy to know this basic tenet of law. And please don’t tell me that this basic tenet does not apply in our beloved Ghana.

I hope right thinking and democracy hugging Ghanaians, regardless of political persuasion; will join me in condemning the ill-conceived attempt by the Chief Justice to placate the trouble seeking and misguided NPP folks. Is the Supreme Court petition against the president not enough? We cannot continue this litigious political climate which is holding the country back and creating unwarranted nervousness. Now is the time to focus on creating jobs and moving the economy forward.

Let me end by saying this: what we really need the NPP to champion is the freedom of information act. If we get the freedom of information act, we will be in a better place to put a serious dent in the pervasive corruption that fogs Ghana’s march to unfettered development. The NPP must keep its eyes on the real prize and stop this silly gimmicks designed to induce political gain. Stop the investigation now!! Indeed, I hope someone will sue the Chief Justice in an effort to shut down this investigation permanently.

I want to be clear on the record, that, my opposition to the secret taping of the Deputy Minister is in no way, shape or form an endorsement of anything she said or plans to do in the recording. I am not here to debate the merits of her utterances. I don’t know her and frankly do not care about her politics. All I am saying is that secret recording of anyone against that person’s express or implied permission is wrong and must not be condoned. Imagine someone recording your bedroom activities and putting it in the public arena. Wouldn’t you feel violated? This was a private conversation for crying out loud!! Shut the investigation down now!!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Known as the Double Edge Sword and recently mobbed as Santrofi Anomaa)

I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell---Harry Truman.

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka