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Opinions Mon, 22 Jun 2009

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Civil and Human Rights, NDC Style

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I have always firmly believed that even if it wields power for ten-thousand years, the government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) would never know what it means to wisely pursue a civilized democratic culture. For as the age-old maxim goes: “Once a murderer, always a murderer.” The Akan have an even more poignant dictum that observes the following basic, scientific truism: “A crab does not beget a bird.” It never did and would never do, not even in our miracle-laden era of cloning. And it also doesn’t matter a whit whoever assumes the helm of affairs of the most notorious terror-plying political juggernaut in postcolonial Ghanaian history.

Thus it comes as absolutely no surprise to learn that the NDC-christened Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) would have its key knavish operatives routinely subpoena the Atta-Mills government’s ideological opponents by mere phone calls. I never, for once, expected the pro-NDC operatives of the BNI, most of whom are barely literate, I understand, to be able to actually issue written arrest warrants. And even here, it gets quite tricky.

I also don’t know where Ghana’s Vice-President John Dramani Mahama acquired his education in civil rights and responsibilities if, in fact, he ever acquired the same, particularly when he disingenuously observes, in answer to media queries, that any Ghanaian placed under any form of arrest by the spine-chilling Bureau of National Investigations ought to promptly demand “a written arrest warrant” before deciding to surrender to the gun-toting dope-fiends of our country’s wild-west equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). How sane such move is under the Dzelukope Mafia’s reign-of-terror is any responsible and law-abiding Ghanaian citizen’s good guess.

At any rate, precisely what sort of “written arrest warrant” is the vice-president talking about? Ghana’s number two absolute chieftain did not tell Joy-Fm’s News Editor Ms. Matilda Asante-Asiedu in a recent interview that Mr. Mahama granted the former (See “Demand Warrant Before Allowing Arrest – Veep” 6/19/09).

What the foregoing appears to imply is that all that arresting officers from the BNI need to do in order to legally effect an arrest, is to simply hunch over one of those oversized metallic desks and scrawl out the name of whomever they desire to “water-board” at any particular moment. And, of course, one cannot fault Mr. Mahama too much, because the former Member of Parliament for Bole-Bamboi is not a professionally trained lawyer, at least not to the knowledge of this author. But then, could any justice-loving Ghanaian citizen, or even resident, find it reasonable within his/her heart to pardon President John Evans Atta-Mills for deliberately either bluntly refusing or tactically failing to pass on to his right-hand man the glaring fact that in every civilized democratic society, what any legitimately recognized security agency, or agent, is required to possess at the time of effecting the arrest of any law-abiding citizen, for any number of reasons or perhaps even none at all, is A BENCH WARRANT, and not just about any bloody scrap of paper with the arrestee’s name haphazardly scribbled on it.

And for those of our readers who may not know this, and believe you me, I am no legal light myself, A BENCH WARRANT, as the term clearly implies, is an order (or warrant) issued by a recognized court of law for the arrest of any citizen in whose affairs or activities, be they private or public, the government du jour is interested.

Tragically, though, quite a lot of lay readers and commentators of media fare seem to have readily, and rather curiously, been taken in by Vice-President Mahama’s deftly orchestrated “Good-Cop” foil to substantive president Dr. John Evans Atta-Mills’ “Bad-Cop” persona. You see, Oguaa Kofi cannot think straight, as New Yorkers are wont to say, because his entire psyche, as well as brain-matter, is hermetically jammed by the swashbuckling persona of Chief Dzelukope.

What is even more pathetic, though, if also because of its abject puerility, regards those stentorian NDC-hired guns and barely literate propagandists who insist, against all rationality that, in fact, it is perfectly sound for agents of the BNI to effect the arrest of bona fide citizens of Ghana with the patently flimsy gesture of “a phone invite” (or invitation). Recently one such hireling, writing under the characteristically presumptuous caption of “Calling Off [sic] Ohene Ntow’s Bluff” (Modernghana.com 6/19/09), even while also impudently presuming to cavalierly tag the New Patriotic Party (NPP) scribe as intolerably arrogant, glibly justified the rather unorthodox BNI subpoena and arrest protocol as one that is unusually refined because under the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party administration, the BNI once arrested Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata while the infamous mastermind of the death squads that were the PNDC-sponsored Tribunals and People’s Courts was, allegedly, praying to his Christian God in an unnamed sanctuary.

You guessed right, dear reader, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing and then crying out my lungs and then gasping for breath and then seeming to be almost on the verge of suffocation, pleading with my wife to call me an ambulance. Well, the ambulance never arrived because, somehow, miraculously, I was able to retake possession of my being and consciousness. Needless to say, that NDC hired-hand must, most definitely, have been high on “coke” or whatever NDC hacks use to psych themselves up before going off on a tangent, these days.

I mean, doesn’t the very oxymoronic notion of Tsatsu Tsikata worshipping at a Christian sanctuary – or church – read like a scene taken from a page of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”? In sum, anybody who happens to believe that Comrade Tsatsu Tsikata could, indeed, believe in the empirical existence of a Christian God needs to immediately have her/his “head” examined in Dr. Osei’s Asylum Down office.

At any rate if, indeed, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata ever got arrested in the rather surreal manner described above then, in all likelihood, the Kufuor government must have felt at some point the plausible necessity of speaking to such blood-guzzling P/NDC torture-chamber capos as Messrs. Tsikata and Selormey in the one and only language spoken and best appreciated by these Dzelukope Mafia undertakers. What personally puzzles me, however, is the curious decision of the New Patriotic Party to retain the name of the P/NDC-minted Bureau of National Investigations, knowing the eerie, unsavory, petrifying and spine-chilling memories of wanton brutality and summary destruction of the lives of largely law-abiding and hardworking Ghanaian citizens, in the spurious name of revolutionary probity and accountability that the letters BNI morbidly conjures.

Interestingly, just as I was putting the finishing touches to this article, as it were, I came across another of the same on Ghanaweb.com in which President Atta-Mills was reported to have just released a whopping $ 50,000 (Fifty-Thousand American Dollars), per head, in auto-purchase funding for members of the Ghana National Assembly, without regard to need. In 1979 and 1982, having exactly $ 50,000 in one’s bank account would have summarily seen the owner condemned to either death by firing squad or life imprisonment with hard labor, under the same P/NDC government now back in power. “House-Cleaning,” “Probity” and “Accountability.” Dear God, kindly save us from ourselves!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of 20 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com. ###

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

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