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Thinking Aloud: Being truthful to ourselves

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.  John F. Kennedy.

The scenes created on the premises of the Supreme Court, with cane-wielding men and women in T-Shirts of the National Democratic Congress and President John Dramani Mahama’s campaign for election 2012, portrayed an unpleasant spectacle.  It gave a very dysfunctional impression of our country and the state of the rule of law.

It was unfortunate that the deviants bore NDC insignia, but it was worse that the police appeared intimidated or disinterested in acting to stem the tide.  We must be thankful that it did not degenerate into chaos since that could have enmeshed the whole process.  Sadly, instead of attempting to assuage feelings and sentiments, the Greater Accra Regional Police PRO seemed to have suggested that the police was more concerned with developments inside the court room than outside and that nothing untoward happened and the police could not link the deviants to any political party.

To add salt to injury, the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, added fuel to the fire when he suggested that the deviants could have been NPP supporters.  We all must as rational normal human beings accept that many times we need to be truthful and sincere with one another and ourselves.  That means that where we do not have any goodwill for human sufferings and abuse, we should not be scornful but rather pensive and quiet.  We do not have to add fuel to fire and act, as it is said of the lizard, that it is not so much angered by the one who shoots to kill it or the hunter but by the by-stander who applauds the marksmanship of the hunter.

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That fact is equally reflected in the saying that “se wo annya biribi amma w’ase a wonsane mmo no koronoo,” to wit, t if you do not have anything for your in-laws, you do not steal from them.

Whoever the deviants were, they must be disowned, condemned and ostracised rather than be eulogised.

I had opportunity to listen to the Greater Accra Police PRO on Adom FM on Wednesday evening, the day the incident happened.  He made the incident look pedestrian and remote, arguing that it happened a little far away from the court premises and close to the Nkrumah Mausoleum.  However, the next morning, he appeared somehow sober on Oman FM, probably because the photographs carried by some of the newspapers clearly demonstrated that the deviants stood inches closer to the police.

However, his submission that the police was more concerned about the safety and security of the Supreme Court judges inside the court room than those outside is what is underlined by John F. Kennedy, that if the state cannot protect the many who are vulnerable, then she cannot save the few privileged.  Although canes are not guns, weapons are weapons.

In any case, the potential confusion and chaos that the canes could have brought would have been more diffused than guns, since if anyone had come there with a gun, all efforts would have been made to contain that.  That is why all precautions have to be made to ensure that our country is true to the professed governance of the rule of law and due process, rather than violence and might as right. 

Given that state resources, coercive powers and authority would be applied evenly to protect and safeguard all citizens and uniformly deployed to contain crime and deviants, for as long as we would promote non-discrimination and  avoid indiscreet application of rules, we have to agree that no group of Ghanaians are more evil or villainous than another.

We are all capable of violence, except that some of us have been trained, brought up and educated to firmly believe in the principle that violence begets violence and that it can never be a cause for sustainable development.

There are Ghanaians who have been needlessly and unjustifiably maligned or lampooned for speaking against violence by those whose cohorts are the ones who engineered the violence. For as long as there are politicians ready to sponsor lawlessness and Ghanaians willing to carry out violence, impunity, unilateralism, abuse of power and betray the  public trust, others will stand up and hold them to account.  Those who think that state power must be used to protect evildoers must know that those who draw the sword die from the sword.  No one Ghanaian is more a citizen than another.  Those who wield power at any given time must appreciate that position is never possession and that the tables keep on turning all the time.

We are suffering these abuses and others are gleefully supportive because the reality of other jurisdictions where even heads of state are made to account to the law is far away as some of us even think that the immunity provided our President in the course of discharging his legitimate obligations and responsibilities as head of state and government is limitless and covers even private acts that have nothing to do with the functions of the Executive.

People are ready to act lawlessly and violently because state resources, coercive powers and authority would be put at their advantage and they will never be held liable.  After all, criminal prosecution can only be instituted by the Attorney-General, who can even enter nolle prosequi at any time.  It needs to be pointed out to our politicians, especially those who instigate and condone violence, the words of Dr Martin Luther King that victims of politically motivated violence would always have something “to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism,” that power is ephemeral or transient.  Indeed, emmere yenni nkaso” and time changes, emmere dane”.

Our political leaders must refrain from creating trouble and taking advantage of the situation for whatever ends.  Therefore, whenever some few Ghanaian miscreants behave in a bestial manner, they must be openly condemned and disowned, rather than be euphemistically praised. If we cannot openly condemn them then we must keep silent and not speak to expose ourselves or turn fire into a conflagration or an inferno.

In the case of the police or any of the security services, all state agencies and public institutions, there is the need to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they are there for all Ghanaians, not some groups or individuals.  For if one person had been detained last week, it would have sobered every Ghanaian and inspired optimism that evil will not triumph.

The security agencies and public bodies need the trust, support, cooperation, understanding and confidence of all the people.  We can build our country together only when we are truthful to ourselves and one another.

Article by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh