The sad tale of the ‘honourable thieves’

Parliament Empty Monday.jpeg The parliament of Ghana

Sat, 28 Jan 2023 Source: Kwaku Badu

Ghanaian politics has become a scorned profession, not the noble profession it used to be. Suffice it to stress that it takes good people—good citizens and leaders to build a prosperous nation.

Yet a lot of good people would never go into politics. They dislike the toxic levels of partisanship. They hate the intrusive media scrutiny and they won’t pay the high personal costs of political life.

Once upon a time, anyone who gained a seat in parliament was looked up to and respected by all. Alas, this is not the case anymore.

It is well over four years since the sensational vineyard news spiraled through that some NDC Members of Parliament have allegedly grabbed double salaries.

Apparently, I had mixed feelings when I read some time ago that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service had submitted the dockets on the investigations of the double salary grabbing NDC Members of Parliament to the Attorney General’s Office for advice.

My incertitude stemmed from the fact that Ghana’s justice system tends to clamp down heavily on the goat, cassava, and plantain thieves, and more often than not, let go of the impenitent criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

As I write, nothing meaningful has been done towards bringing the double salary-grabbing suspects to book.

It is quite obvious that the alleged suspects are hiding behind dowdy and largely unjust parliamentary privileges and concessions.

The fact that the parliamentarian's privileges and concessions are grounded in the Constitution of Ghana, it is somewhat sophistic for any person or group of persons to contend that the parliamentarian's immunity from arrest and issue of summons without the Speaker of Parliament’s prior knowledge and permission is not dowdy and ridiculous in the fight against corruption in the 21st century.

After all, we are all equal before the law. Yes, no one is above the law, so why must a section of society have some kind of immunity in justice delivery?

How can honorable Members of Parliament knowingly keep double salaries to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged Ghanaians?

Truly, it beggars belief that individuals could form an alliance, create, loot, and share gargantuan sums of money belonging to the state and would eventually slip through the justice net.

For argument's sake, if the law can excuse a suspected double salary-grabbing Member of Parliament from prosecution, the law might as well make room for the equally important contributors such as farmers, teachers, and doctors among others.

Why must we allow a section of the population to perpetrate criminalities and then hide behind the law?

I have always maintained that if we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only return their loot without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain, and cassava thieves the same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

I am afraid, the democratic country called Ghana may not see any meaningful development, so long as we have public officials who are extremely greedy, corrupt, and insensitive to the plight of the impoverished Ghanaians.

It is absolutely true that the unresolved cases of political criminals' unscrupulous activities often leave concerned Ghanaians with a gleam of bewilderment.

Indeed, when it comes to the prosecutions of political criminals, we are often made to believe: “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but it will grind exceedingly fine.”

And yet we can disappointingly cite a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other public servants.

Where is the fairness when the political thieves could shamefully dip their hands into the national purse as if there is no tomorrow and go scot-free, while the goat, cassava, and plantain thieves are incarcerated?

I have always insisted that there is no deterrence for political criminals. For, if that was not the case, how come political criminals more often than not, go through the justice net, despite unobjectionable evidence of wrongdoing?

We hereby plead with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that the law is not a respecter of persons, and therefore the alleged double salary NDC Members of Parliament must be investigated thoroughly and prosecute those who are found culpable of wrongdoing.

After all, the right antidote to curbing unbridled sleazes and corruption is through stiff punishments, including the retrieval of all stolen monies, the sale of properties, and harsh prison sentences.

Columnist: Kwaku Badu