I have read Occupy Ghana’s open letter to me with a tinge of amusement.
How apt it is that the open letter begins with the story of Jesus Christ and the ten lepers. The theological thrust of this story as most Christians know is about gratitude and encouraging those who engage in good works. I recall the lonely feeling some ten years ago and the vilification that was to follow when Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah and I decided to take on Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey (may his soul rest in peace) over the unethical purchase of his bungalow. How I wish any of our friends at Occupy Ghana in their personal capacities had remembered this biblical story then and had at least encouraged us as Christ admonished. Interestingly, many years after the fact, I am now being described as part of a team of “valiant persons”. Though many will doubt your sincerity, let me at least say thank you. As they say, better late than never.
Now let’s go to the gravamen of the matter. This is what Article 72 of the Constitution of Ghana says on the President’s prerogative of mercy:
(1) The President may, acting in consultation with the Council of State-
(a) grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions; or
(b) grant to a person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him for an offence; or
(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for a punishment imposed on a person for an offence; or
(d) remit the whole or part of a punishment imposed on a person or of a penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Government on account on any offence.
(2) Where a person is sentenced to death for an offence, a written report of the case from the trial judge or judges, together with such other information derived from the record of the case or elsewhere as may be necessary, shall be submitted to the President.
(3) For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that a reference in this article to a conviction or the imposition of a punishment, penalty, sentence or forfeiture includes a conviction or the imposition of a punishment, penalty, sentence or forfeiture by a court-martial or other military tribunal.
My lay appreciation is that Article 72 (1) is as clear as crystal that the President acts in consultation with the Council of State and NOT his Ministers. There is therefore no constitutional role for Ministers as can be seen reading the entire Article 72 unless Occupy Ghana confuses Council of State with Ministers. The two bodies are very distinct and cannot be the same. So can we please agree that you stop misleading the public when you keep writing that our “incestuous” conduct as Ministers makes it impossible for the President to rely on us for “disinterested” advice.
Furthermore, Article 72 is clear and unambiguous that this is a prerogative for the President NOT the Executive. To therefore conclude that we are sending a petition to ourselves is only laughable and disingenuous to say the least.
In any case, your prejudice against the Executive and especially the Attorney General in your open letter to me is legendary. Let me quote you:
“Clear crime was committed, which the Executive-controlled Attorney-General would not prosecute. In fact, the Executive-controlled Attorney-General would not even commence quasi-criminal contempt proceedings. To add insult to injury, the Executive-controlled BNI issued a pathetic white-washing statement about the matter. Clearly, the Executive, which you are a part of, had no interest in seeing to it that these convicts faced justice. Had the judiciary not stood up to be counted, these gentlemen would be walking free, they and several others waiting in the wings from all sides of the political divide, emboldened by deliberate Executive inaction, to perpetrate even more dastardly acts on air.” So the obvious question that arises is: if this is how terrible and complicit the Executive is, why would anybody who claims to love the President want us to be the same guys advicing the President even when the Constitution has aided you by giving us no role? Shouldn’t you be happy that we have put ourselves in a position where we are incapable of advicing the President? I honestly don’t get your logic, with all due respect.
Wonders they say will never end! I have been gobsmacked to see you suggest that suddenly Occupy Ghana wishes the President so well that it is we his Ministers who are the ones “stabbing him in the back”. Truly we must be living in the last days. Let me leave this aspect to the Ghanaian jury.
It’s interesting you speak of my role model status. May you be reminded that I have not lost any opportunity including my first response to you to condemn what the Montie Three did. My Facebook and Twitter accounts also provide further confirmation of this. It is my believe that Occupiers are also role models. I have no doubt in my mind that all those who come to assess us on principle will in all humility attest to my consistency. Wish I could say same for you my friends. If Ghana had heard you loud and clear agitate like you are doing now that Sir John who made similar despicable statements and got away with just a fine deserved then to be jailed four months, don’t you agree you will be looking better in the mirror than you look now?
I shall continue to take inspiration from Yaa Asantewaa, Nkrumah, Lincoln, Luther King, Biko, Mandela and above all Jesus Christ who told us in Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy”.
God bless Ghana.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (MP)
Deputy Minister for Education.