Innuendos, Rumours and the Jinxed Politics of Ghana
Some closure has finally been brought to the elections of 2012, ‘some” because notwithstanding the Supreme Court verdict of August 29, 2013, the realities of what otherwise remains hidden but actually pertains at all levels of the Ghanaians socio-political and may I add, judicial structure has been publicly exposed courtesy the dismissal of the petition filed by three prominent citizens of the Ghana. That the people of Ghana have found cause to pat themselves on the back for striding the precipice of chaos, anarchy and disorder and retreating from the final descent into the abyss is admired by all, never mind what it took to forestall and checkmate the inclinations of the hardline hotheads who though may have joined Ghanaians in good company in appearance, may in reality be incubating very frightening ideas, the kind that our constitution frowns upon but which ironically, we may have unwittingly and deferentially planted into the already hot headed craniums of these hardliners courtesy the very decision arrived at by the Supreme Court of Ghana.
A culture appears to have emerged in Ghana, facilitated by the actions and inactions of those in positions of prominence by which the good people of Ghana have gradually fallen in love with anything legal; young people, adults, wannabes, frustrated individuals, clueless apparatchiks and political hopefuls have all decided to form a beeline to law schools, especially private ones all in an attempt to be called “learned” and to use that learnedness for reasons yet to be deciphered. Many a lecturer of a legal subject cringe at the quality of some of these legal hopefuls and their real purpose for sitting before them, mainly due to the sort of scripts they present for marking. I dare say those who don’t ‘like their skin matter’ simply zip up, go through the motions and hope that at the end of a semester, they would sail through by divine intervention and look forward to other strategies to endure the rigours and discipline of reading cases, the understanding of which would determine whether or not one becomes a trotro lawyer or a legal luminary properly so called. It is not an easy task.
The above is to point to what our society is becoming or has become over the years. We have collectively imbibed a culture of self-deception, corner cutting and outright sabotage, thinking we are undermining and pulling down our opponents or adversaries when in reality, we are succeeding in bastardizing both the letter and spirit of our constitution as well as pouring scorn on the operating principles of the Republic. From the Supreme Court, right through the Legislature and the Executive and everything that lies between these three arms of government, we have suddenly developed a tendency to wag the law and give weird interpretations of clear-cut mandates as stipulated in statute and by the supreme law of the land. It is almost as if our national legal pastime has been geared towards finding ways to circumvent the law rather than uphold the very law that we have taken pains to fashion out to keep our ship of state afloat. It must be for something that the Transparency International Reports on Ghana over the past few years have consistently pointed at the Siamese institutions of the Judiciary and the Police as being the most corrupt institutions within the Republic. The question then becomes, why is it so? Is it just a matter of perception or is it the case that the perception is itself fueled by realities that we hypocritically pretend do not exist or lamely explain away in order to carry on business as usual? Why would the two major institutions that have been specifically set up to uphold, defend and reinforce the very foundation on which they rest end up attracting very unflattering comments and perceptions from the people from who the law setting up their existence springs? I hazard two discoveries.
The first is a chance encounter I had in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision in a chieftaincy matter regarding one of the Paramount Stools in Accra. The court had ruled by a 4-1 margin in favour of one of the factions. The defeated faction that had bemusement written on their faces suddenly burst out in a torrent of insults, openly castigating the president of the panel for deceiving them into parting with a hundred thousand cedis which in their estimation, he did not deliver to the 4 who voted against their pleadings. For a moment I assumed this was just an open display of sour grapes until one of their old men invoked a traditional Ga curse; that was when I knew this was no laughing matter. Old Ga royals do not accuse Supreme Court judges of taking bribes so brazenly in the forecourt of the Supreme Court to the hearing of all, heap curses on them for deceiving them to part with such a huge sum and invoking unprintable maladies on their children and their children’s children. You see, the Ga man is something else when it comes to his land, stool or cash. Any loss of anything related to these three important endowments simply means caution would be thrown to the dogs; it matters not whether he would be accused of bribery for the Ga man would rather be jailed than let a judge have free lunch at the risk of his land, stool or cash.
The other had to do with an observation on the Ring road. An obviously overenthusiastic trotro driver had taken the liberty one early dawn of overtaking from the wrong side of the road. Unfortunately for him, his re-entry into the road was marred by the presence of a stationary police patrol vehicle, the occupants of which simply flagged him down to stop. What transpired thereafter convinced me that we are either jinxed or simply a disaster waiting to happen: one passenger in the trotro got down, raving and ranting at the police, promising to call a known government official who would invariably call the head of patrols to release them. Frankly this braggadocio looked like a disenchanted foot-soldier and somehow, Mr. Policeman seemed to have been petrified into inaction by this passenger while the driver of the trotro looked on sheepishly. I honestly expected the police to invoke the law. They didn’t, same way as the call from “above” did not come. In the end, the hapless driver parted with a few ‘blues’ and off they went in a puff. I proceeded to ask the policeman who engaged the driver why he did what he did and his answer blew away the last shreds of hope I ever had about the policeman on duty: “massa, I think say you no dey this country ooo, when you come back? But you no see what happen? The man wan call somebody make my boss come blast me. My boss, if he take from that somebody, abi me I no dey there some? So if I take my share for here, what I wrong I do?” It was not so much what he said that bothered me; it was what the repercussions were that frightened me. Here he was, thinking I was some absentee ex-intelligence officer and openly disclosing words to the effect that his boss and by extension his institution was corrupt, he was in no way sorry for what he had done and more dangerously, propounding the theory that whereas some within this society are connected enough to call, it was perfectly legitimate for those who lacked the connections to make a phone call to employ the use of “there and then” payments to escape the clutches of the law. Why would Transparency International be wrong in their consistency when many other persons may have had such personal encounters such as I had at close quarters?
Now if the above is a microcosm of what obtains within a section of our institutions, is it any wonder that almost all of them are riddled with similar tendencies? Why would I doubt when someone opines that dollars have changed hands in certain high profile cases in recent times? True it is that the evidence may not be cast in black and white and yet, have we not finally been told that the presence of the word “shall” can transmogrify into “may” depending on whose bosom the word is thrust into? W. Mark Felt, former deputy Director of the FBI and popularly known worldwide as “Deep Throat” once advised the Washington Post reporters following the Watergate scandal to “follow the money”. It always contains the clues and leads to the conclusion. One fine day, our own version of Deep Throat would emerge for truly, people have started talking and what is doing the rounds is very worrisome. A few examples may suffice:
Timex Social Club once released a song titled “Rumours” asking how rumours get started, and answering that they get started by jealous people who got mad seeing something they had being held by somebody else. The daughter of a prominent judge is reported to have asked her father, “dad, it is being said all over town that you’ve taken some dollars”. He is said to have smiled and denied the allegation. This same man was seen moving to and fro in mental anguish, asking one of his close friends to drive him along the Winneba road and back just to clear his head off the implications of what his daughter had implied for in his brief tenure on the bench, never once had his daughter ever discussed anything amounting to bribery regarding his work. Another is rumoured to have recorded his boss and played same to the overall boss after a conference, based on which plans were hatched to get a particular outcome. Unfortunately, that recording has also fallen into ‘hostile’ hands, doing the rounds and casting a certain image for an already image-dented institution. The most unfortunate of these allegations is the interpretation given to what was essentially a family meeting held on the Muslim holiday at the residence of a brother in East Legon. It is quite refreshing for a Professor to fly in from the United States and be reunited with his half-brothers, whether they are Presidential staffers, businessmen, or judges and to have a “chat” in the afternoon of the end of the Holy Ramadan. That the rumours and allegations started right after that ‘lunch’ is not the issue: what has ‘leaked’ is the danger and I say again that one fine day, Deep Throat, reloaded in Ghana will speak about what happened especially in the last two weeks leading up to the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court of Ghana.
If the above are rumours and allegations that may bruise the egos, reputations and standing of persons as to damage their reputation in the minds of right thinking members of society, I am sure there are remedies in tort for them. The question is, who would noose himself with an innuendo? The authorities for and against abound. It has been said for instance, that a very vilified judge threatened not to appear on a day of judgment out of his conviction of an illegality about to be committed. It is said that another judge prevailed on him to let go. Question: what if this judge suddenly decides to resign, hold a press conference and tell the whole world what really happened? What if somebody’s conscience actually agitates so much so that he/she decides to escape the clutches of that mental agony and torment by confessing to the credible suspicion of American Benjamin’s altering his/her true thoughts on the nexus between circumventing the law and upholding same? They say that a conscience is that intangible part of the human anatomy that hurts most when all other parts feel great. How many of us are walking around with tormented mental faculties based on truth, lies and everything that lies between circumstantially or substantially? How about those alleged to have done the “operation”? How sure are they that between the picking up of the cash and it’s delivery to the targets, lots of things such as video recordings, pictures and taped conversations did not happen?
I am still not convinced that we are a jinxed lot and yet, rather ironically, I am sure we are about to experience a series of disclosures that would embarrass many a prominent person within the Ghanaian body-politic. For example, it is common knowledge that one of the most prominent chiefs in Ghana and a former president covenanted to deny a presidential candidate the opportunity to serve his country for reasons that have to do with oil blocks, real estate in the Airport area and fears that this incorruptible candidate would let the rule of law prevail. It is also on the discussion tables at the drinking bars that a certain High Commissioner pocketed some American Benjamins meant for some “prominent” people, the reason why a certain moustached-staffer is pointed to as the doer of the deed. Maybe, the media friends of these agents are double agents after all, for Deep Throat would not have been deep throat without the input of reporters who may or may not have taken a cool five hundred Ghana cedis across board. Let the innuendos, rumours and finger pointing games begin.
Stanislav Kofi Adjitornu
15099 Tallinn, Estonia