Jusitce William Atuguba
Jusitce William Atuguba

Justice William Atuguba clearly appears to be obsessing with his new diversionary toy called “Contempt of Court,” if the report by Citifmonline?indicating that the General-Secretary of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) may be hauled before the Atuguba-presided court hearing the Akufo-Addo/NPP Election 2012 Presidential Petition has credibility (See “Sir John To Appear Before SC on Monday” Ghanaweb?7/11/13).

 

In the main, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, the NPP general-secretary, is reported by the National Democratic Congress-leaning publication The Enquirer, to have made contemptuous statements about the panel of 9 jurists hearing the Election 2012 Presidential Petition. We are, however, not told precisely how the Enquirer‘s editors and publishers arrived at their conclusion, as well as the procedure by which such anti-judicial snide was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court.

 

What we have, thus far, been told is that the judges had requested an audio version of an interview that Sir John – as Mr. Owusu-Afriyie is popularly known – is alleged to have granted an unnamed Accra-based radio station. At the time of this writing (7/11/13), Mr. Owusu-Afriyie was widely reported to have flatly denied the alleged fact of his voice’s being on the purported audiotape requested by the Atuguba Court. Now, whether the voice captured on the audiotape belongs to Sir John or not is beside the point – Ghanaians simply want the Court to speed up the process of its deliberations in order to timeously calm frazzled nerves.

 

The new unsavory tactic adopted by the Atuguba-presided court of preempting highly opinionated public discourse on the proceedings will only aggravate matters, and may even seriously undermine the credibility of any decision delivered by the Court, regardless of how forensically sound such decision may be. And if that happens, the Court would squarely have itself to blame.

 

The targets of such unorthodox summonses must also muster the courage to defy the Atuguba Court on grounds of protocol. For instance, as we all learned the other day, protocol demands that Justice Atuguba refer all cases of judicial contempt that did not occur directly within the geometrical confines of his courtroom to the Attorney-General, who would then invite those so charged to respond within a set temporal frame, after which a fair hearing and punitive sanctions could then be exacted.

 

The Supreme Court, or rather the Atuguba Court, ought to demonstrate its inviolable sense of dignity by flatly refusing to be abjectly led on a leash by tendentious media hacks like the editors and publishers of the Enquirer newspaper. Among the Akan, there is a proverb which counsels against the sort of avoidable tardiness with which the Atuguba Court has been deliberating on the 2012 presidential election petition. That proverb runs as follows: “When water stays too long in a bottle, it begins to reek malodorously.”

 

Throwing Sir John behind bars will only make a martyr out of the man. It will inadvertently elevate the NPP General-Secretary to the enviable status of a national hero of immortal proportions. Is this really the objective of Justice Atuguba and his 8 associates? There is also no gainsaying the fact that those of us old enough to remember are increasingly beginning to recognize a strikingly sinister similarity between the 19-year veritable reign-of-terror chaperoned by Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and his AFRC-PNDC-NDC regimes. Is this really the way that the Atuguba Court panelists want to be remembered? Just think about it!

 

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

E-mail: [email protected]

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