In an article entitled “What exactly is 'misconduct', published on 24th January 2012, I spelt out for our body-politic, the perilous nature of the situation in which its leadership had placed itself, with the unfolding of the unsavoury Woyome saga.
I warned that not everyone in our society is enamoured of the democracy we are enjoying, and that some elements think that Ghana is too under-developed to be allowed to enjoy the “luxury” of full democracy. Of course, such elements are misguided and selfish, for as Winston Churchill pointed out, democracy may be “the worst” form of government – “except [for] all the rest that have been tried.”
Less than one month after I published my article, I find to my dismay (but not to my surprise) that a campaign appears to have begun on the Internet, suggesting openly that the level of “corruption” in the country has reached such a stage as might tempt some soldiers to try to intervene to end it.
One such writer was so dishonest that although he tacitly admitted that military intervention by hypocritical officers in the past had led to further corruption, nevertheless (he seemed to suggest) it would be a good idea to have some more of it!
Now, when I advised my earlier article,hat the Woyome cancer should be cut out, I merely urged that the right thing be done. However, I must point out that I am still afraid for our democracy. Two factors have led to my unease.
The first is the Opposition's attitude to the Woyome saga. One important Opposition figure thought it was adequate to say that although he got an expensive vehicle from Woyome, it was for “legal services” performed on Woyome's behalf. He did not find it necessary to end public speculation by giving exact details of what those “legal services” were.
Then, the official Opposition Communications Director condemned the arrest of an Opposition MP who, it had been alleged, had been paid a large sum of money by Woyome at a time the MP was a Minister.
I deplore the attitude of the Opposition Communications Director. His concern that the NDC is seeking to embroil the Opposition NPP in the Woyome saga is naïve. If the shoe had been on the other foot, he would have done the same thing. What should give him disquiet rather is the fact that there are highly-placed members of the Opposition who smiled at Woyome and didn't care a tinker's dime about why he would write them large cheques.
That having been said, I have to condemn in no uncertain terms, the impression the Government is giving that it wants to “dichotomise” criminality in this country. As a lawyer, I am sure the President remembers the word “dichotomy” very well. It was first introduced into our political lexicography by Mr Kwaw Swanzy, Attorney-General under the Nkrumah regime.
Mr Swanzy was addressing a press conference in the aftermath of the 9 August 1963 treason trial of Dr Nkrumah's Minister of Information, Tawia Adamafio, and the following persons: Robert Benjamin Otchere (former [opposition] United Party member of parliament); Joseph Yaw Manu (also of the opposition); Ako Adjei (Dr Nkrumah's former Minister of Foreign Affairs); Hugo Horatio Cofie-Crabbe (former Administrative Secretary of Dr Nkrumah's Convention People's Party) and E C Quaye, CPP member and former chairman of the Accra-Tema Municipal Council).
They were all charged with treason for their alleged involvement in the Kulungugu bomb attack on President Kwame Nkrumah on 2 August 1962.
The court, headed by the Chief Justice, Sir Arku Korsah, found the two United Party members guilty but acquitted Adamafio and the other CPP members. Mr Kwaw Swanzy hit the roof at his press conference.
He spat fire: the court, he charged, had used a legal mechanism known in law as “the dichotomy of the credibility of a witness” to convict the United Party members, whilst using the same principle to acquit the CPP members. “The dichotomy of the credibility of a witness is dangerous in law!” Mr Kwaw Swanzy thundered.
When I heard Mr Swanzy say these things, I realised that legal history was about to be made in Ghana and I asked him, “Is the Government going to sack the judges?”
It was the question on everybody's mind, and there was a loud murmur at the Accra Press Club, where the press conference was being held. Mr Kwaw Swanzy didn't answer the question, but his body language suggested that something serious was afoot. And indeed, a few days later, the CPP used its majority in Parliament to set aside the judgement.
The President was next given power to sack the Chief Justice, and a law was enacted creating a “Special Court”, which did the Government's bidding by trying the acquitted CPP politicians anew, under a new Chief Justice, Mr Justice Julius Sarkodee-Adoo.
I am recalling these things to draw attention to the fact that Governments are often tempted to interfere with what should be purely objective judicial processes. So, if we go by the interim report of EOCO, Woyome had dealings with several people, including the former Attorney-General, Mrs Betty Mould-Idrissu; the current Minister of Finance, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, and several civil servants, including a Senior State Attorney. Yet only the wife of the Senior State Attorney was implausibly named in the interim report as having had money paid into her account by Woyome.
Then, weeks after the public we had been wondering about how reliable the interim report was, out of the blue comes the name, not of anyone connected by the interim report to Woyome, but of an NPP MP. He had also been paid money from Woyome's account, it is understood.
Seriously, does the President of Ghana, a law professor, expect the Ghanaian public to accept this situation with equanimity? Are there other people who are connected to Woyome's account? If so, who are they? Why weren't they named by EOCO? Even if EOCO had not completed its investigations – and may well name others in the “full” report later – did it make good political sense to name only some people and not even comment on the possibility that other names might emerge, after further investigations?
The President received the “interim report” and commended EOCO for its work. When he read the interim report, did the “dichotomous” aspect of the release of names of people who had benefited from the Woyome account strike him or not? If it did not strike him, then it should have struck his legal team (please don't laugh!) who include people with grand-sounding names: Attorney-General and Minister of Justice; Solicitor-General and Director of Public Prosecutions.
All these are paid to give the Government advice on legal matters and the President ought to have given the interim report of EOCO to them and asked for their comments before approving of any actions derived from the report.
Because the Interim Report was so opaque – hinting at certain things and not others; naming some names but ignoring others; highlighting some acts of negligence but not others; stating that the President had stopped payment to Woyome twice but glaringly failing to tell the public when the President's orders were issued; to whom they were issued; when exactly they were issued; who refused to carry them out; and what the President did when he became aware that his orders had not been carried out, the public is left with a bitter taste in the mouth. Is the Government really as cynical as this, merely toying with the public's perception of what it is doing?
The Opposition is, I am afraid, giving the Government an easy ride over this Woyome matter. Why did it invite the former Attorney-General to appear before the Public Accounts Committee without supplying her with documentation beforehand?
Would it not have been wiser to invite the Accountant-General first, so that his evidence could then have been put to the former AG and the Minister of Finance later? If the civil servants appear after their bosses, will they dare to contradict their bosses?
Are the Committee members satisfied with the Auditor-General's attempts to wriggle out of some of the statements he'd made in his own Report to Parliament? Why hasn't he so far appeared to set the record straight?
This matter should be forensically examined and put to bed as quickly as possible, for when a political system in a country is indicted as “corrupt”, albeit by opportunists seeking to put their snouts into the national trough, dichotomy does not usually rear its head to discriminate between the politicians who operate it.
The whole of Parliament is under threat, if they don't know it.
Authoritarian rule is an 'equal opportunity' abuser of human rights. Ask any CPP, PP or PNP man who has ever -- unceremoniously – been ordered to report to a police station at six o'clock in the morning, and he will tell you that quite unjustly, they all suffer when opportunists strike at democracy..
Wake up, then, ye politicians of Ghana! Don't let us ever go through those horrific periods again. Because one thing is sure: those who do not learn from their own history are condemned to relive it – nightmares and all.