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The contrived pardon

John Mahama Chin President John Mahama

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 Source: Sydney Casely-Hayford

By Sydney Casely-Hayford

Indeed, Monday, August 22, which happens to be the day the said purported pardon was granted, will surely be remembered as arguably, the darkest day in the annals of history relative to our democratization regime. And ultimately, President Mahama would forever be remembered as the president that has sacrificed the supreme interest of the nation by endorsing lawlessness and impunity in order to satisfy his party (NDC) foot soldiers and apparatchiks.

What a dangerous precedent that was!

Before I proceed to deal with the moral bankruptcy of the president’s action, let me quickly deal with some legal issues and point out the unconstitutionality therefrom.

I may not be a lawyer as of yet, which is indeed the case, but I am old and savvy enough to know that law and commonsense or morality are inextricably linked and as a matter of fact, that is a basic criterion of a good law. I learnt this in my Social Studies lesson (characteristic of a good law) when I was in JHS and I guess you have learnt same too.

The President claims to derive his powers from Article 72, which talks about “Prerogative of Mercy” which can be exercised by the president to, inter alia, persons who have been convicted by the court or found to have been guilty of an offence and slapped with the necessary reprimand.

This Article should NOT be misinterpreted or misconstrued to mean that the Constitution has vested in the President, the power to REVIEW the decision of the court by reposing in him, an APPELLATE JURISDICTION.

Indeed, Article 125 (3) states clearly that, “The Judicial Power of Ghana shall be vested in the Judiciary of Ghana, accordingly, neither the President nor Parliament nor any organization or agency of the President or Parliament shall have or be given judicial power”.

Again, Article 296 of the Constitution categorically states that, “where in this constitution or in any other law discretionary power [in this case Article 72] is vested in any person or authority – (a) that discretionary power shall [my emphasis] be deemed to imply a duty to be fair and candid; (b) the exercise of the discretionary power shall not be arbitrary, capricious or biased [my emphasis] whether by resentment, prejudice or personal dislike and shall be in accordance with due process of law….”

In fact, the crime of CONTEMPT is so serious …to the extent that the Prisons Act, precisely, Section 34 (d) clearly FORBIDS the grant of pardon to prisoners who were convicted of contempt of court. It is again instructive to make the point that unlike every other case we have experienced in this country, where we have the Republic Versus Mr. A or B, this particular case is a unique one and almost unprecedented, because the court has had to invoke its own inherent jurisdictional power to convict the trio of contempt.

In the light of this, anytime attempt by whosoever and for whatever reason, political or otherwise, to water-down or render nugatory, the court’s decision, will be tantamount to undermining the very principle that underpins our judicial system and subjecting the powers of the court to public opprobrium. Simplicita!

The president says, he grants them the pardon/remission on compassionate ground. Like seriously? Throughout history, compassion is used to grant pardon to prisoners on grounds of ill-health, ageing, sustained good conduct that is observed over time, or some extraordinary reasons. The president should tell Ghanaians which particular category these muntie trio fall under, to be deserving of compassion.

So the president can show compassion to the muntie trio, but can’t show compassion to the thousands of remand prisoners, who have not been tried nor pronounced guilty, but are being kept in our prisons for several years against their fundamental rights. The president can show compassion to the muntie 3, who threaten to rape and kill our judges, but he cannot show compassion on the gentleman who threatened to kill him (the president) and was jailed for 10 years. Perhaps, the lives of our judges don’t matter.

Again, the president can show compassion to the muntie gangs, but cannot show compassion to the innocent head porter (Kayeye) who was jailed 10 years for carrying someone’s load which contained marijuana. The examples are interminable. I ask, what is so special about these 3 muntie gangsters?

The only inevitable answer that comes to mind is that they are NDC foot soldiers, who were working for the president. In fact, one of them (Mugabe) is on record to have said on muntie fm that he left his family in the UK to come and work for President Mahama.

This claim, has still not been denied by the presidency; the gentleman in question, finds himself at the wrong side of the law, then the president comes in and overturns the court’s verdict in order to free him. How smart could that be? From the foregoing, it would be absolutely nonsensical and unconscionable for anyone to conclude that the president’s decision to free the muntie trio was not arbitrary, unfair, biased, capricious and driven by political consideration rather than the national interest. And this, of course, violates both the letter and spirit of Article 296 of the constitution.

In conclusion, the president’s action to pardon the infamous muntie trio is most likely going to breed lawlessness and impunity. It also undermines the authority of the court and renders their decision, nugatory. By this dangerous precedent, party foot soldiers and apparatchiks would be emboldened to act lawlessly and commit all forms of atrocities once their party is in government, knowing very well that they would be freed even if the court sentences them.

This is what President John Mahama wants to be remembered for. If almighty Supreme Court judges including the CJ herself, could be threatened with rape and murder by these NDC foot soldiers with impunity, then I can only imagine what can happen to me, the son of an ordinary wakye (rice and beans) seller based in Bolgatanga. You, the reader should also imagine what could happen to you, since we now live in a banana republic or the proverbial jungle.

Maybe, I should inform you that I was recently threatened by a gentleman who describes himself as a former TEIN President, which is the tertiary student wing of NDC because he claims that I’m being very critical of his government with my usual write-ups (folders).

I have no option but to keep that to myself because I know I am vulnerable, powerless and cannot find justice anywhere in this country. Sorry, I’ve had to shed tears whilst writing this piece. Our country is sick and bleeding profusely.

I therefore call on the youth to rise up and be counted through revolution of the conscience. We surely need a new paradigm and if that means, a REGIME CHANGE, then so be it. We need to restore our moral fiber and get back to the good old days, where Ghana was seen as the beacon of hope and bastion of democracy on the continent.

What we need is RULE OF LAW, which is the underpinning of every democratic society and not RULE OF MEN, which breeds lawlessness, ‘foot-soldierism’, impunity and retrogression. Ghana must not die. We can’t afford to fail our generation and the unborn. To this end, I invite you to join me in the #mutashi movement together with a number of celebrities who have launched a strong campaign for the redemption of our country.

Ghana, Aha a y? din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

Columnist: Sydney Casely-Hayford