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Opinions Mon, 22 Jul 2019

On Gregory Afoko, let justice be your guide

The literature tells us that when the Trojan war had gone on for some years, there were many who did not even know what started the war but they continued fighting.

Today, on the Gregory Afoko matter, many are “talking some” ……offering opinions, or “bad comments” without knowing how the war started.

Lawyers are bashing each other about whether Gregory Afoko had properly met his bail conditions before the attorney general went shopping for another high court to keep him incarcerated.

First let us list the dramatis personae in this melodrama and then as always we shall enumerate the universal principles through which the case must be viewed.

Nana Akufo-Addo: President of Ghana; 2016 presidential candidate under whom internal party disputes arose. Specifically Party finances used within his tenure were being investigated internally.

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey: late party chairman who led NPP to 2012 failed election contest. Rumoured to be preferred by Akufo-Addo so that he could control him and take absolute control of the party; lost chairmanship contest to Paul Afoko.

Paul Afoko: Party chairman who succeeded Jake; had suffered as political prisoner under military rule; was probing Nana Akufo-Addo’s and the party’s use of funds allegedly without due process.

Kwabena Agyepong: General Secretary aligned with Paul Afoko on the same mission; his father was murdered under military rule.

Freddie Blay; a non NPP member who was made chairman when Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong were removed by internal party structures instead of a national delegates conference; a contentious issue.

Alan Kyerematen: the main opponent presidential aspirant within the same NPP who is now a minister under Akufo-Addo.

Gregory Afoko: Alleged by a woman to have poured acid on the late NPP Upper East Regional chairman for issuing instructions to party executives urging them to not welcome Paul Afoko on NPP visitation tours.

Now to some universal principles.

It is important to let a guilty person walk free than to jail an innocent person.

Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty in a competent court. Prejudice must always remain manacled behind every judgment seat.

Kate Hodal writing in the Guardian on April 29 2019 reported the findings of the Global Task Force for Justice stated, “When governments invest in better justice, conflict and instability go down”. For example, after the Guatemalan government rebuilt the justice system to better combat impunity and tackle corruption, homicide rates declined by 5%.

Then Hodal reminded us of the Sierra Leonean conflict, quoting Priscilla Schwartz, our West African neighbour’s first female attorney general and justice minister, who also co-chairs the Global Task Force for Justice, “Lack of justice is stopping countries from reaching their economic and social potential. Injustice feeds further injustice. It creates conditions for populist and extremist movements to prosper.”

As we seek justice, let us reflect on the following important questions.

One, has the NPP served justice in that campaign funds scandal which was under investigation?

Has the police, led by the current IGP (who should know better!), investigated that campaign cash scandal, and if not why does he think Gregory Afoko’s alleged crime is divorced from that matter?

Where are Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyerematen today? Do they sit together in cabinet making absolutely sure that contracts are awarded in a transparent manner even if it were to NPP stalwarts? …….drum roll, high five!!

Between the time of the acid attack and now, has it become easier or more difficult to buy acid from the open market for any purpose?

What happens to all those who harboured a collective disdain and dislike for Jerry Rawlings and the PNDC/NDC now that President Akufo-Addo and former president Rawlings have reconciled, and Ghana’s Forestry Commission led by a former party general secretary officially celebrated the June 4 Uprising with Rawlings this year?

Reflecting on Ghana recently my mentor remarked, “The more things change the more they remain the same; ignorance and dishonesty remain our calling card. But Justice, a concept first pioneered by Africans, remains alien to us”.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah