I don’t know much about the judicial culture of Ghana, but if we are

to go by the performance of Judge Francis Obiri, the Accra Circuit Court

judge who sentenced 36?year?old Mr. Charles Antwi to 10 years’

imprisonment for allegedly attempting to assassinate President John

Dramani Mahama, then the country is in deep trouble (See “Gunman Was

Not Crazy ? Judge Fights Back” Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com


You see, when the prosecution involved in such a serious crime

believes strongly that the accused may be mentally unsound to stand trial,

but the non?specialist judge cavalierly brushes aside such well?founded

misgiving on the dubious grounds that the accused exudes a demeanor of

“confidence” and “charm” “while making his claims” and therefore is sane,

then I strongly believe on the preceding count alone that maybe the judge

deserves to be promptly dismissed from the bench and be recommended for

psychiatric examination.

For starters, it is not clear to me precisely how the determination to

try Mr. Antwi in an Accra circuit court, rather than a high court, for allegedly

attempting to assassinate the President of Ghana, was made. Well, Chief

Justice Theodora Wood was widely reported to have been in attendance at

the Ringway Gospel Assemblies of God Church on July 26 when Mr. Antwi,

wielding a home?made hand?gun entered the building. We are also informed

that it was some of the personal detail, or body guards, of the Chief Justice

that apprehended and escorted the gunman out of the chapel. And so,

perhaps, it is quite safe to presume that Mrs. Wood had a thing or two to do

with the prosecution of the case. Even more significant to highlight is the

flagrantly capricious basis upon which Judge Obiri clearly appears to have

determined the sanity of the accused.

Well, is Judge Obiri, for instance, implying that the exudation of

confidence, whatever the latter terminology is supposed to mean, is the

unique and especial preserve of the sane and sound? And also that,

invariably, people clinically classified as mentally challenged lack a

“confident demeanor”? Well, one can almost be certain that some form of

psychology constituted a part of the legal training of Judge Obiri; but it is

equally certain that the circuit court benchman is not a board?certified

psychologist and/or psychiatrist. And so why did Judge Obiri flatly refuse to

afford Mr. Antwi the civil, human and judicial right to be clinically examined

by a specialist before determining whether the alleged gunman was fit to

stand trial, for both the statutory crimes of illegally possessing an

unregistered handgun and attempting to assassinate President Mahama,

even upon the request by the prosecutors involved in the case?

There is absolutely no doubt that Judge Obiri must have been under

a lot of pressure to nail the convicted gunman, especially the imperative

need not to be perceived by Mahama fanatics and hangers?on to be too

clinical and professional with the case. Nonetheless, it was equally

imperative for Judge Obiri to uphold the highest ethical standards in his

handling of this first?class case of felony. You see, the test of Mr. Antwi’s

sanity rested far less on the surface details of what the accused intended to

do, than whether the end?result for doing what he intended to do was

practically achievable or sensible to the hearing and/or understanding of a

normal human adult.

The accused stated rather incoherently that he wanted to kill

President Mahama and assume the presidency himself, without readily

recognizing the very elementary fact that if he succeeded in killing the

president wthout also taking over the entire governance apparatus, it would

be Vice?President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah?Arthur who would end up being

constitutionally declared President of Ghana, and not Mr. Charles Antwi, the

one?man battalion of the Dadiesoaba home?made artillery division of the

Ghana Armed Forces. As well, the fact even if he succeeded in liquidating

Mr. Mahama, or carrying out his patently morbid and deadly objective, the

gunman would likely be executed right on the spot.

It is for the preceding observations that I am of the firm conviction

that the scandalous sentencing of Mr. Antwi to 10 years’ imprisonment ought

to be promptly declared a mistrial. Judge Obiri must be assigned cases

requiring the barest minimum of logic and moral depth of appreciation.

Personally, I believe that the country’s judicial system will be better served

by having judges like Mr. Obiri resign their posts, retire with full pension

benefits, or be reassigned to purely clerical and administrative duties. An

injustice one too many, were the dear reader to ask me.

By Kwame Okoampa?Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Garden City, New York

E?mail: [email protected]


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