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Opinions Sun, 30 Jun 2013

Buffoonery in the Making at the Ghana Supreme Court!

".....You cannot be serious this time, Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor! You may know how to navigate as far as this Supreme Court goes. But wait for the "next" Supreme Court. What the court is doing is anti-democratic. It is dangerous (and unwelcome). The Supreme Court may have a whip, in your parlance. But consider that the Supreme Court does not have its own Police Force or Armed Forces with its own rifles, bullets, and batons....." (Prof Lungu, 29 June, 2013)

Recent reports about the suppression of free speech of citizens and some members of the press by Justice Atuguda and a small gang in the Supreme Court of Ghana is bald-faced anti-democratic, unreasonable, and utterly laughable. In fact, that the Supreme Court of Ghana will, today, in 2013, complain about the free speech exercise of a journalist who buys ink by the barrel and will verbally order them to appear before their court at the pain of contempt, is mightily ironic.

Do some of the judges think that they are above the rule of law, that they are better human beings, or that it is the duty of every Ghanaian to respect them for any reason? If Mr. Atuguda or any other member of the Supreme Court believes that, they are in the wrong business even in this stage of Ghana's nascent democracy. After all, who can they point to that begged them on their knees to occupy those positions, publicly-funded positions most people in Ghana will agree are more than adequately compensated?

Precisely nobody, we reckon!

More crucial, is it not the same Chief Justice Wood Supreme Court that ruled in November, 2007, in CHRAJ vs Anane, that CHRAJ, another Constitutionally mandated "court", could not act on any complaint from a citizen or a member of the Ghanaian press unless the "complaint" was in written form?

How then, in fairness, Ghana-centeredness, and justice could any member of the Supreme Court verbally announce that Mr. Ken Kurankye, a member of the Ghana press or any private citizen must appear before them without first issuing the notice in writing and explaining precisely what mandate they are acting on, and for what reasons these free and good citizens of Ghana must appear before them? Is it to engender fear? in the people? Why would Chief Justice Wood condone this tyranny and buffoonery in the making by Mr. Atuguda and his pithy unruly gang?

How ridiculous is that, oh Ghana Supreme Court! How ironic, even!

Consider that just this week another member of the Ghana Supreme Court and Chief Justices from 12 African countries were in Dakar, Senegal, to meet President Obama of the USA. If you missed this, the officials were in Dakar to represent African Chief Justices and to share successes with respect to the rule of law in their various countries. Reportedly, per the US Embassy, "Ghana was selected...for the lead role it is playing in transforming Africa's Judiciary, justice delivery and the rule of law" (http://allafrica.com/stories/201306270657.html).

So how, in the name of same rule of law can certain members of the Ghana bench order free citizens and any member of the Ghana free press to appear before them when these individuals have absolutely no case pending before their court, nor are they witnesses in a court proceeding before them?

Consider the irony of all ironies!

It is Justice Date-Bah who was in Dakar to represent Chief Justice Wood with respect to the rule of law in Ghana. Consider that it was Chief Justice Wood herself who penned the infamous 2007 CHRAJ v Anane decision that permitted Mr. Anane to walk free simply because the complaint to CHRAJ had not been in writing. Further, consider that it was Justice Date-Bah who sharply dissented from Chief Justice Wood and her panel, arguing that the Wood panel had sharply strayed from rational jurisprudence, measured commonsense, and the fundamental interest of the people to control corruption by "high" public officials, that a written complaint was rather bizarre and unnecessary.

With respect to CHRAJ vs. Anane, the reader can read "Chief Justice Wood's False Choice: Is a Kangaroo Court in the Making?", our 14 January 2008 critique of that decision, on Ghanaweb at: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=137504. While at it, read also "Killing The Constitution Softly!", the brilliant critique by Dusuuru Bamba, also published on Ghanaweb, 6 November, 2008, at http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=152575. This Bamba essay is very accessible to all manner of Ghanaweb readers, we can attest. However, Bamba also published a 2-part legal critique that gets to the bottom of the colossal failure of sound legal reasoning and good judgment. The reader can contact Prof Lungu, if they need a copy of Dusuuru Bamba's 2-part essay. (Should Dusuuru Bamba read this essay, we ask that you please contact Prof Lungu. The Yahoo email address we have is bouncing your mail back to us).

To get back to the current buffoonery in the making at the Supreme Court and borrowing from Dusuuru Bamba, we will observe that Mr. Atuguda and his small gang of bullies have got their "data" with respect to the rule of law and good governance completely warped. As a result, it is our conclusion that the Atuguda-gang have arrived at the wrong conclusion and action by ordering free citizens and any member of the free press to appear before them in any manner. After all, if the Atuguda gang of jurist bullies was responsible and concerned about good governance and the rule of law in Ghana, if they cared about their own recent precedent in CHRAJ v. Anane, they would have issued their "complaint" in writing.

After all, did they not order "written complaint" for CHRAJ when this government agency, in a far more worthy fight in the service of Ghana, was merely attempting to protect Ghanaians from corrupt officials who steal from the public coffers and lie to the people with reckless abandon? How is that, compared to a citizen who merely says a public official, supposedly a servant of the people, is being "hypocritical and selective”. Or, that other such official is being foolish, weak, and opportunistic in their actions, and found unwilling or unable to effectively control real persons with real cases before their kangaroo-court-in-the-making?

Or might it be because of laziness, pomposity, tyrannical temperament, or all of the above, that influenced Atuguda to ask private individuals and any member of the press to appear before him and the gang of clowns without reasonable cause?

So, what do we do, you may ask of Prof Lungu and Associates?

We dare say it is time to ask Chief Justice Wood and Justice Date-Bah to caution the Atuguda gang now making a mockery of the "rule of law" in Ghana, even as they are in the streets of Dakar singing about the rule of law in Ghana.

The trespassing on the free speech rights of Ghanaian citizens, the shameless violation of the freedom of the press and association, all of these ought to stop. Atuguda and his gang ought to understand that "high" government officials ought to have thicker skins for tolerance. They ought to be able to take critiques, even criticisms with diddly-squat redeeming value. After all, those are mere words, freedom words, we dare say. Alternatively, Atuguda and his gang could "get out of the kitchen" altogether and allow others to faithfully and respectively serve Ghanaians. After all, how many Ghanaians can Atuguda count on his miserable fingers actually begging him to stay in that very well compensated public positions?

So it goes, Ghana!

©Prof Lungu is Ghana-centered, Ghana-Proud. Prof Lungu is based in Washington DC, USA. Prof Lungu and Associates is brought to you courtesy www.GhanaHero.com. Join us: (Email: professor.lungu at yahoo dot com). (Washington DC, USA). (30th June, 2013).

Columnist: Lungu, Prof