There was a very nice philosophical debate going on August 20, 2013 from a Blog article by Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh under the title:? ?Will the Ghana Supreme Court Seize its “Brown” Moment or End Up a Badly Divided Court??

In the article, our brilliant Professor argues that a near-unanimous decision on the Supreme Court case could perhaps send a message of a ?united Ghana?, similar to what happened in the Brown-vs. Board of Education in the United States, which decisive decision set a good example for successful school desegregation in the American South.

 

I happen to disagree. I disagree that the Supreme Court of Ghana should necessarily reach a near unanimous decision about the disputed Presidential elections of November 2012 that has dragged on for seven months now. We should be happy either way. However, facts should be facts. When lawyers talk about what will ?bring a nation together?, we must remember many disagreed only a few weeks ago when the same Justice put some two men in prison for what they described as contempt for free speech. I myself was of the same opinion that free speech was being attacked or squelched, until I read the real reason for the Justices imposing a fine of Ghc5,000 last week on a lawyer and NPP General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, aka Sir John, and Ghc2,000 on another for criminal contempt.

 

I embraced the reasons given by the Justices, and as an Engineer and Organizational Management specialist I tend to agree with the view that discipline is needed to build any human organization, including a business or nation. Even in speech there are some limitations. I tend to think of the business of life as a nation. I think of the massive economic loses the nation incurs when we allow disputes to overtake every aspect of our lives and hence fail to even think of the estimated eight thousand lives that are lost every month for preventable diseases in Ghana from malaria and water borne diseases. I tend to think of our inability to get simple water systems in place to meet our population?s needs met. I tend to worry about the electricity that is mere copper wires hung on poles like school children with no protection that ruins our appliances but nobody seems to care,, and of course the rationing going on showing absolutely no concern and budgetary allocation for planning! I also think about how much money has been lost for the delay in making this decision or ruling. Gosh! I even think we lost $150 million for some silly Biometric registration system when we could have had a simple ID system where everybody would pay say $2 to get their own ID Card.

 

The argument today on the GLU forum was bordering on the same issues some raised if Justice Atuguba and the Ghana Supreme Court had a right to consider the security and cohesiveness of the nation in the ?irresponsible utterances? of some people and hence find them in contempt and take action to imprison or impose fines. Two weeks ago many were thinking it was an abuse of power.

Now in this article today we are arguing that the same Supreme Court that did not have a right to consider the national security of the nation and hence ?suppress? what some considered ?Free Speech?, should now consider the interest and welfare and cohesiveness of the nation and hence try and come close to a unanimous decision as possible. They should do that so some people in the nation will not argue that the courts are divided ? some Judges were appointed by Kufuor or Mills or Rawlings, and hence etc, etc ? So what!

 

Come oooon! What kind of argument is that? Are the Judges to ignore what they may personally consider as irregularities or not, and for the sake of the nation use the same ?fama-Nyame? (give-it-to-God) principles and let us move on if they sincerely feel on opposite sides of the case?

Where are the principles then? Who sets the principles and guidelines for a national cohesiveness? Judges? The President? Pastors? Chiefs?

If irregularities are not clearly defined in the constitution, then aren?t the Judges to use their own discretion to define it. Why would they consider the interest and cohesiveness of the nation now? Please don?t get me wrong. I am on their side now, but why should the principles change?

When they delay court cases and sit on simple cases for 11-13 years, don?t they know they are ruining the businesses and sometimes lives of members of the society? A man can be ruined economically and that ruins his life, as much as the sad but unfortunate financial fiasco that comes when people borrow money to invest in electoral politics and they lose! There are cases I know but will spare you the details.

 

Folks, the only way we can salvage our nation is if everybody in their duties consider the interest of the nation. Period!? I just heard this morning in the San Francisco Korean Airline crash some few months ago that one of the young girls run over by a Fire Truck as she lay on the ground, was captured with a camera in the hat of one of the Fire fighters. The SFO Department had stopped use of recording devices and the Fire Truck driver happen to have his camera on, as against regulations. Knowing potential liabilities and law suits in America, one would have expected, in a nation like Ghana for the Fire Services and the government to suggest that camera should continue to be banned, especially since this case reveals an error or mistake of their own members and crew. Do you know what they are saying? The Fire Chief said today that maybe they should consider making the cameras mandatory in all cases, since it will give them information that previously was missing.

Do you see the difference in cultures? One culture accepts serving the community even if their officers make mistakes. In Ghana our officials will never even investigate an Auditor General?s annual reports and find fault and punish so we can learn and serve the public. The taxpayers work and their sweat pays these educated ?greedy bast***?, as one former President called them in frustration. Do the members of the three branches of government sincerely think of the people they serve?

Folks, our educated executive elites, at the top of the food chain, being paid by government have not learned how to save money for the government as they get paid. ?As MPs and Ministers were ordering the most expensive vehicles for official use, and free housing and petrol, taking an estimated $350,000 to $500,000 per year from the coffers annually for combined base pay, benefits such as sitting allowances, and retroactive pay for the SSS salaries, some workers including doctors were being told there was not enough money in the coffers to be paid their Single Spine salary. Some workers in Ghana go for months without pay. Do the Judges consider this a social injustice? Have they ever thought of making public statements on these as they relax after work?

As we the educated elite argue and debate the rights and wrongs of our society and philosophies on how to move forward as one nation in peace, we should consider all facets of the nation. There is so much poverty! And poverty can be considered a social injustice! People are poor not because they chose to be poor but because there are not opportunities for them yet. It is very rare to find a human being who given a job to be paid will turn it down. Many Ghanaians come to America and as soon as they get a job are able to afford a decent second-hand car and pay for their apartment.

I am not a Preacher-man, but I think we should all think about it! All of you out there ordering $165,000 BMWs and $100,000 Toyota Landcruiser for your official vehicles!

If Judges can think of the welfare of the society when it comes to the cases they are working on, from comments made outside their courtroom, and consider their reputation being tarnished and hence contempt, and claim seeking the interest of the nation, then one may also ask them: When was the last time a Judge made a simple expression of opinion on the social evils we see every day, such as lack of delivery of basic water, sanitary environments and health care facilities? How about the governmental project cost overruns?

How about the highways for which massive loans have been procured and never get completed!? How about lack of enforcement of rules such as land registration and permits, police bribery and some of these known injustices that judges get caught in also?

Do they care or they try to seek their personal interests and only when it comes to cases they are involved before they think about the national interest?

 

Dr. Kwaku A. Danso ([email protected])

President-Ghana leadership Union (NGO)-Moderator, GLU Forum

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