Two weeks ago, I watched a discussion on the Celebrity Fan Zone show where the issue of a female porter (kayayo) suspected to have transported illegal drugs across the Ghana-Togo Border and was handed a 10-year sentence without adequate representation in court.
From the discussion, it can be insinuated that the trial was not as fair as it should have been. Also, the evidence should have been analysed critically before any conclusions were made. Looking at the nature of a female porter’s job, it was always going to be difficult for her to know what she was carrying without losing any customers because others would want her services without asking any questions.
Yet, once this woman was caught with the illegal goods at the border, she was sentenced without thorough investigation. After hearing this on television, I decided to surf the Internet to find out the details of the issue.
However, to my dismay, I found little information on what the whole issue was about making it seem as though it was not a matter of interest.
No one is willing to investigate further into the case in order to find out what really happened or if indeed the woman was a culprit. Like Albert Einstein said : “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”.
The recent news cycle has involved the ‘Montie Three’ when three males believed to have been radio presenters and panellists threatened with impunity to kill judges and rape the Chief Justice of Ghana.
When brought before the court, they gave certain flimsy excuses as to why they made such uncouth statements on air.
They were then given a prison term of four months each, which I believe is too small considering the magnitude of their offence especially in a country where judges have been murdered before. So here they are, with a four-month-sentence for conspiracy to commit murder while there are people in prison who have been on remand for ages concerning crimes they may not have even committed.
After the sentence, there was an outcry that the President of the Republic of Ghana H.E John Mahama should exercise his prerogative of mercy by freeing the trio. There were several prominent people like Ama Atta Aidoo and Lawyer Tony Lithur who spoke against this saying this while others like Nana Oye Lithur (Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection) went as far as signing a petition for their release.
The council of state came to a consensus that the trio should be freed and the president heeded to this decision to the shock and dismay of most deep-thinking Ghanaians.
That was when I decided to analyse the implications of the situation.
1. Of all the approximately 2,000 prisoners in Nsawam Prison that may have applied for Presidential Pardon, only these Montie Three were worthy enough to get a pardon that quick without taking much time to follow due procedure. What about those who have been on remand for years concerning offences they may not even have been involved in.
2. Prerogative of Mercy is exercised when the prisoners have served some amount of jail time and have proved to be of good behaviour, therefore are recommended for a pardon. How long did the Montie Three stay in jail?
3. Looking at the nature of the offence, does it mean that the democracy in which we live in automatically offers the opportunity to exercise our freedom of speech at the expense of other’s rights to life?
4. Would the judiciary fight back in government cases after its verdict has been trampled upon by the president’s actions, albeit constitutional?
5. Does the executive’s absolute power override that of the judiciary to the extent of interference with its cases and if so where lies our concept of separation of powers?
6. Have party matters overtaken our love for Ghana?
Juxtaposing the Kayayo story with that of the Montie Three, I would like to agree with Karl Marx’s theory once again.
Here, we see class oppression as well as social inequality. The Montie Three spoke for a powerful party and when the repercussions came, they were redeemed despite the fact that they were proven guilty leaving the country in a state of unrest. The Kayayo had little or no representation in court, yet was given a sentence of about ten years.
There are flaws in every system. However, it is in patching up our flaws that make us stronger. The purpose of this article is to stir up our spirit of patriotism once again and not to politicise any of these occurrences. We can not afford to have our executive and judicial arms at war around this crucial time when they are supposed to function as one body.