HANDLING THE PRESIDENT’S PHONE 27
The whole of last week, I took very keen interest in the aftermath of the campaign launch at Cape Coast which saw the gathering of some 67,000 party faithfuls of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the Cape Coast stadium.
Thereafter, the president began his national campaign tour from the Western Region of Ghana. It was completely amazing the crowds that poured out to listen to him, to catch a glimpse of him, to shake hands with him, and to take pictures with or of him.
From community to community, the president was met with mammoth crowds that one can best describe as genuine considering the smiles on the faces of the people. To some, it might be the first time they have seen the president of the republic. To others, it may be another opportunity to see the man they had voted for.
To the president, it was an opportunity to recount his achievements in the region. The Western Region, since the coming into office of the president, is benefiting from quality roads, new Community Day Senior High Schools, CHPS compounds, educational infrastructure expansion, electricity expansion, improved water supply and what have you.
Again, it was another opportunity for the president to touch base with the grassroots and to know what their present challenges are to enable him identify solutions to solve them for the people. As would be admitted by all, development is a process. Just as some challenges are being overcome, new ones pop up requiring fresh interventions.
Right after the Western Region, the president took his campaign to the Northern Region, his home region. His first assignment was to inaugurate the Tamale International Airport that made it possible to airlift Hajj Pilgrims directly from the Tamale Airport. That intervention had taken off a lot of pressure from the Kotoka International Airport this year.
The president thereafter, took his campaign into communities in the Northern Region in his first phase of campaign in the region. Again, images that emerged from the campaign drove home a point. The president is loved and appreciated by his people. The show of love was deep.
I saw images of the disabled having the president relating with them and shaking hands with them. Naturally, these individuals would not have the opportunity of coming close to see their president let alone shake hands with him considering the crowds that made it to the streets. I have rather heard stories of the president breaking protocol on many occasions to get close to his fellow Ghanaians who are but disabled to relate with them. An ordinary president with the ordinary people.
While in the Northern Region, the president took a bold step in consultation with the Council of State by freeing three citizens of the state; Salifu Maase a journalist, Godwin Ako Gunn a former parliamentary candidate aspirant of the NDC and Alistair Tairo Nelson a former member of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) who were incarcerated for scandalizing the courts.
Before their release, this country had seen several commentaries both in favour and against any act of pardon for the three. For those who were in favour of the pardon, they were with the belief that the punishment for the individuals was harsh and should be lessoned by the president. For those who were against, any act of pardon would have meant that the president undermines the authority of the courts as well as endorsing misconduct.
In dealing with this issue, I must state that I personally was for any action that was to see the three out from prison. I was active in the vigils and in every little call that was to achieve that aim which was finally made manifest on Friday 26th August, 2016.
We have had cases of contempt in the country. At least, since following the courts in my adult years, the following have been precedences of contempt in modern times:
1. Sir John fine, Ghc5,000 with a walk away
2. Sammy Awuku, exclusion from court proceedings and a walk away
3. Ken Kuranchie sentence, 10 days
4. Atubiga Stephen sentence, 3 days
5. Alistair, Gunn, Maase sentence, 4 months + Fine Ghc10,000 each.
If for nothing at all, I have had a clear understanding that the court relies heavily on precedence in the determination of cases that have no clearly spelt out sanctions. Considering the fact that contempt cases are determined at the discretion of judges, the precedence in the above listed cases should have sufficed.
It was on the basis of the excessive application of the law that some of us stood in solidarity with the trio. The act was not in any way an endorsement of abuse of the justices of the courts. As a matter of fact, the individuals involved in this case have had one disposition; remorse. To the very final speech made on the day of their release, they have apologised at every opportunity offered them. The remission of sentence came as a salvation for these vulnerable Ghanaians. The conviction and fine paid still remain on the trio.
It was very disappointing that individuals who have been beneficiaries of presidential pardons have switched positions and are condemning those of us seeking to benefit from what they had benefited from.
It remain a fact that president Kufour applied Article 72 in favour of Mr. Gregory Afoko a brother of his confidant Mr. Paul Afoko when he was jailed over a robbery case or so. The same President Kufour invoked Article 72 in the pardoning of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata who was jailed under weird judicial circumstances. Again, the same President Kufour invoked Article 72 in pardoning the son of a stalwart of the NPP Mr. Appiah Minka Aketeng three years into a total jail term of 15 years of conviction for dealing in cocaine (47 cans of cocaine).
What those condemning this pardon have failed to tell us was whether the actions of former President Kufour were right or wrong. The same application of Article 72 cannot be right and wrong at the same time. If it was right in the past, it couldn’t be wrong today. Those involved in this case today are also human beings who deserve mercy as was shown to others.
Contempt of court is not murder. For some to threaten embarking on hunger strike was to say the least, laughable. While we waited to witness the strike, a joke came up that the said individual was advised by his doctor against hunger strike because he has stomach ulcer.
Let it be made clear that, this same president was impressed upon by these same NPP apologists to pardon their own Adamu Sakande a Member of Parliament jailed for perjury. How hypocritical can they be? Sakande is more human than the trio I guess. This first class/second class citizen posturing must stop.
For those who threatened the president and told him he would lose the elections with this singular act, the only thing I did was to laugh. Because, President Mahama losing elections is an advantage to their party. So why not jubilate? Why cry more than the bereaved? At least, this has gone to prove the selflessness of the president to the extent that he risked losing elections in place of showing mercy; but chose mercy over his desire to remain president.
Look, let us hear wai. The trio are out of prison on legal application of the constitution. Head to court if you do not understand why that should happen. What you can do now is to wound up your campaign and wait to be sworn into office on January 7th since you have won the elections. We are tired of the noise. You cannot be intelligent than all of us in this country. Mr. President, the trio say a big thank you!
……..to be continued……