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Ghana’s Democracy In A Wheelchair, The Need For Constitutional Review

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Social Democracy
Democracy

The Supremacy of the `1992 constitution guarantees in Article 1 that the Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution.

It also guarantee in 12 1), that The fundamental human rights and freedoms (Freedom of Expression, Association, Speech, Movement) enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary (Separation of Powers) and all other organs of government and its agencies and, were applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Ghana, and shall be enforceable by the Courts.

But under the current Government led by Nana Akuffo Addo, these constitutional provisions has been usurped by the Executive and the Judiciary in many ways and in many forms thereby reducing Ghana’s democracy in a Wheelchair which needs the attention of citizens of Ghana to change the narrative through the December 7, 2024 general elections to push for a Review of the 1992 Constitution which in practice, has arrogated excessive powers to the Executive to resolve this Canker.

So, under the current government the abuse of executive and judiciary powers has undermined the sanctity of our democracy and rule of Law and if care is not taken, this mantra could throw the entire state of Ghana into an abyss when citizen decides to stand for their rights as enshrined in the Article 1 and 12 of the 1992 Constitution. So, the failure of Ghanaians to exercise duly, their fundamental right to vote for change could destroy the fabrique of our democratic institutions which resides in the will of the people and exercised under separation of power which has been abused under the government of Nana Akuffo Addo.

ABUSE OF JUDICIARY POWERS

On Tuesday, 24th October, 2023, a public lecture organized by A Think Tank civil society organization, Solidaire Ghana at the University Ghana dubbed “Protecting Our Democracy, The Role of the Judiciary”, Retired Justices of the Supreme Court and Appeals Court Justice William Atuguba and Justice Kweku Gyan raised concerns about the integrity of the Judiciary under the watch of the current government and pronounced some judgments of the Apex Court as Scandalous. It is evident in recent times that some judgments of the Apex Court, Supreme Court has been scandalous and does not resonate with majority of citizens and rule of Law.

These judgments have received public uproar and backlash to which many are calling for judicial reforms and constitutional review to sanitize the judicial system to uphold the principle of rule of law and fair Justice delivery system. In His key note address, the guest speaker of the Event, Justice William Atuguba, a retired supreme court Judge disagreed with the Apex Court ruling on Gyakye Qyaison, MP for Assin North case of Nationality and eligibility to contest as MP filed against Him to which the High Court has already ruled in his favour.

According to Justice Atuguba, the ruling against Gyakye Qyaison that warranted by-elections is “Scandalous”, waste of state resources and travesty of justice which undermines the integrity of the Supreme Court and the sanctity of the judicial delivery system especially when the Electoral Commission, the arbiter of election results had earlier cleared him to contest as MP.

He therefore called for Constitutional review to address the criteria and modalities of appointments of Justices to the Supreme Court and other courts of competent jurisdictions under the Judiciary. This clarion call resonates with the good citizens of Ghana because it is evident and proven beyond reasonable doubt that that the Judiciary has been politicized since appointments to bench under the government of Nana Akuffo Addo seem to be more of political appointments than integrity thereby resulting in poor justice delivery system. It is perceived that the President appointment of NPP Politicians is abuse of Executive powers to do the bidding of the government which in result, has subjected many judgments of the High Court and the Supreme Court questionable which Ghanaians call “Unanimous FC”

Further, a retired Appeals court Judge, Justice Kweku Gyan in his address also chastized the Supreme Court for shielding the EC Chairperson Jane Mensah from testifying on the Election petition case, 2020 brought against it, as shameful and affront to democratic principle of Accountability and must be condemned by all and sundry because in the past, 2012 election dispute the same Apex Court granted the request of the then opposition NPP to allow EC Chair Afari Gyan to testify so why couldn’t same be done in the 2020 election dispute? According to Justice Kweku Gyan, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission is the Returning Officer of the General Elections and so she is accountable to the good people of Ghana on the outcome of election results so if the Apex Court cannot hold the EC Chair accountable for the despute and outcome of election results, how can he hold the President accountable, he questioned?? 

Furthermore, the Supreme Court posture using technicalities to stampede the passage of the Anti-LGBTQIA Law by shielding the President not to signs the Bill usurps the powers of the Legislature which is the Representative of people’s power and undermines the 1992 Constitution arrogated to the Legislature. Also, the Ambulance trial of the Minority Leader and a Business man Richard Jakpa speaks volumes of abuse of executive and judiciary powers especially when the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is caught in an audio recording between himself and 2nd person to coerce Richard Jakpa to testify against the Minority Leader Ato Forson to facilitate his incarceration.

This undermines the justice delivery system especially when the Minister of Justice could take this path. The Cocoa fertilizer trial where Mr. Opuni, the former CEO of COCOBOD Who is standing trial at the High Court for causing financial loss to the state is also another case of abuse of executive and judiciary powers.

This is because another High Court had truncated the case for lack of jurisprudence and has directed a retrial as results lack of evidence against the accused and the retirement of the Judge presiding over the case for which reason the entire case should restart under another justice all over again yet, the Apex Court went ahead to quash the ruling to get the case to continue from where it ended in the hands of a previous Judge who had earlier sworn allegiance to the NPP Party and who was bent on getting the accused incarcerated at all cost. 

 

ABUSE OF EXECUTIVE POWERS

During the December 7, 2020 elections, the security forces were involved in extra judicial killings of innocent citizen who had gone to polling stations to exercise their franchise. The most affected victims were the killing of 8 citizens at Techiman South Constituency. Till date, the President has refused to direct the Police Service to investigate this unwarranted killing to bring the perpetrators to book.

In 2017, A Journalist Ahmed Suale was killed in a broad day light and till date no arrest has been made neither the President has called for investigations into this murder even though an NPP MP Kennedy Agyepong had earlier incited violence against Suale for his involvement in the Ghana Football Association Expose.

Under the watch of President Nana Akuffo Addo, there have been extra judicial killings by the police in Nkoranza, Effiduase Sekyere and brutality recently in Brong Ahafo during the recent registration exercise as well as military brutalities and killings in Bawku, Garu Tempane and other jurisdictions but investigations have not been conducted to bring the culprits to book. This undermines the integrity of the Ghana Police Service, the Milltary and the Executive arm of government.

In recent times, the arrest and detention of an NDC Parliamentary Candidate at Kasoa is affront to the rule of law especially when the case brought against her for possession of unlawful fire arm has been addressed at Kasoa Police Station and the suspect had already been granted bail yet, the IGP directed that she should be detained for further investigation when the suspect had proven beyond reasonable doubt that she indeed acquire the fire arms legally. A trader in the Volta region had recently died in the custody of police who arrested and brutalized him according to the family but since the police had not issued a statement on this matter.

What is so nauseating was how the same Ghana Police handled the Amenfi West NPP Parliamentary Candidates case where the PC had incited galamseyers to attack the milltary within their jurisdiction at least provocation.

In other jurisdictions where rule of law is put into practice, the PC should have been charged to face full rigour of the Law but because he is a member of the ruling government he’s been shielded from facing the law.

Furthermore, the government inability to investigate and prosecuted government officials who have abused their public office and are involved in corrupt practices questions the desire of the president to fight corruption. Recent developments in the Sale of SNNIT Mantra, PDS, Cecelia Dapaah Cash Stashing, SML Deal, National Cathedral scandals and many more corrupt practices questions the president’s integrity to fight institutionalized corruption. The appointment of NPP Apparatchiks by the President to the EC Board also questions the integrity of EC which is supposed to be an independent body and arbiter of elections results to conduct a credible, free and fair elections. This is an affront to democracy.

As I conclude, I reiterated that Sovereignty resides in the will of the people and it emanates from the people and that is a Democratic Principle. But under the watch of President Nana Akuffo Addo and the Executive, our democracy had been in a wheelchair and the need for attention to address this canker cataloging the above-mentioned events that has taken place in Ghana since 2017.

Democracy seems not be government of the people any longer looking at the direction of the country. Ghana’s democracy is for the Executive and the Judiciary and not the people so democracy which is government of the people by the people and with the people should be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution of Articles 1 and 12.

Our leaders should not abuse this democratic principle and use it to their advantage Rather the Executive must be braced with policies that will have direct impact on the livelihood of the people that will alleviate poverty and improve the living standards of the suffering lot of Ghanaians. When the Executive fails to uphold the tenets of social contract with the people and allow rule of law to prevail by upholding to the fundamental rights of citizens as enshrined in the 1992 constitution, then Ghana could be at the cross road when people’s power is uphold.

Yes Sovereignty emanated from the will of the people and citizens’ rights must be respected. Against this backdrop, there is the need for a Constitutional Review to address the abuse of power by the Executive and the Judiciary.

This can only happen when Ghanaians change the narrative in the 2024 December 7 general elections. Ghana needs a change in direction so Ghanaians must vote for change since the government under Nana Akuffo Addo and Dr. Bawumia are not committed for fight institutionalized corruption and uphold to the tenets of the 1992 Constitution.

It is passing torch to Ghanaians, who fix it knows. Ghana first

Dr. MICHAEL RICHMOMD SMART-ABBEY

[Political &Public Policy Analyst, Governance & Security Expert]

Smartabbeymichael2404@gmail.com 

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