Nene A. O. Amegatcher, national president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), has taken a swipe at state institutions, including the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for arrogating unto themselves ‘powers they do not have.’
He said the country needs a massive change in the national psyche, particularly those in authority, to appreciate that the authority they exercise is not theirs as individuals but for the state.
Thirty-three years ago – on June 30, 1982 – three High Court judges: Justice Fred Poku Sarkodee, Justice Cecilia Afran Koranteng-Addow and Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong as well as a retired army officer, Major Sam Acquah, were abducted in the night when a curfew had been imposed on the entire nation by the PNDC administration, and gruesomely assassinated.
Their bodies were found on July 1, 1982, in a state of decomposition at the Bundase Military Range on the Accra Plains.
Their bodies had been doused with petrol and set on fire, but by divine intervention, rainfall that night quenched the fire, making the partly charred bodies somewhat recognizable.
The PNDC, led by Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, publicly expressing horror at the crime, and yielding to strong public pressure, set up a Special Investigations Board (SIB) with a former Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Samuel Azu Crabbe, as chairman, to investigate the murders.
The professional expertise of the main investigator, J.J. Yidana, an officer of the Ghana Police Service, was remarkable as far as getting to the root of the crime was concerned.
The SIB submitted its report and was published along with a Government White Paper.
The SIB made a number of findings, leading to the prosecution of Joachim Amartey Kwei, a member of the PNDC; L/Cpls Samuel Amedeka, Samuel Michael Senyah, Johnny Dzandu and Tekpor.
For the past 33 years, the Ghana Bar and the Bench have been mourning ‘the martyrs of the rule of law.’
GBA Prez Fires
In an address at the 33rd Anniversary Remembrance Service of the murder of the Judges in Accra yesterday, Mr. Amegatcher was emphatic that threats to the rule of law in Ghana are real.
He said despite the gains made as a country towards the entrenchment of the rule of law, ‘we cannot and should not be complacent.’
The GBA president said the wide powers arrogated to itself by the BNI, even to insignificant issues as making themselves the watchdogs of Students Representative Council (SRC) elections at the campus of the University of Ghana and arresting the software developer on the complaint by the losing candidate for an alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system, was worrisome.
He stated that the influence of individuals in the misuse of the BNI, National Security, Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), among other such state institutions to settle scores, is obvious even to the most casual observer.
The GBA president said such acts must be condemned by all democratically-minded and peace loving Ghanaians, adding that perhaps the rule of law should be understood as demanding accountability for the exercise of state power by those on whom it is confirmed.
With particular reference to the recent barefaced abuse of power by the body guard of the Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, the GBA president noted, ‘That was an abuse of power; leaderships in this country are yet to come to terms with the fact that everybody, the rich, poor, government and the governed are all subjects to the same law and equity before the law.’
In a sermon entitled ‘Lest we forget,’ Rev. Dr. Hilliard Dela Dogbe, in-charge of the AME Zion Church at Mamprobi, Accra, tasked the judiciary to be mindful of the fact that the judges died dishonourably for an honourable cause.
He stated that judges are persons who uphold moral justice and equity at the peril of their lives.
In attendance were the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Wood; past and present Justices of the Supreme Court; high court judges; magistrates and families of the slain judges.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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