The truth, it is said is bitter, but it is what it is – there is no escaping from the truth – it always comes back to bite, as it always catches up with you. Ghanaians insist on the truth, but don’t want to face it.
Ghana undoubtedly is a beautiful country, it is endowed with so many natural resources – cocoa, gold, oil, bauxite, iron ore, diamond and so much more. The county is ensconced in enthralling beauty, culture and people with great potential, but who sadly never reach their zenith, because the entire moral fibre of the country, the society has been wrecked, leading to a system so criminally broken that it doesn’t work efficiently. Ethical imperatives and laws are often broken with impunity.
For a country where almost 100 per cent of the citizens are religious, according to the 2010 census results, some 70 per cent of Ghanaians are Christians and the other 30 per cent are Moslems, adherents of traditional and oriental religions. There are atheists and others as well. For all these believers, ethics is a core value. Indeed, there is no religion or belief system without ethics – ethics is central to religions. Ethics is the fundamental rules underpinning right and wrong, and religious people concern themselves with ethical values.
But looking around it is hard to see how important ethical values are to most Ghanaians. Right and wrong seem to have become a matter of personal views, rather than what the collective upholds or what the values are in themselves – right or wrong. The country has good laws that are not enforced, and when they are – it is sometimes selective. Justice is often dispensed at the behest of the highest bidder. Someone who steals a mobile phone costing a few hundred cedis could spend more than two years in jail, while someone who steals millions of cedis of public money or commits murder could be walking free.
The Chinese and other nationals have invaded the country. They are engaging in uncontrolled mining, ruthlessly decimating the land, polluting rivers and threatening the lives of locals, but there appears to be no decisive action against their dangerous behaviour. Aisha Huang, a notorious Chinese woman found to be engaged in illegal mining and was arrested, was let off the hook. The Attorney-General’s Department pulled out of the case saying it was disinterested in pursuing it any further. There are some reports claiming that Huang has been deported, but there is no evidence to prove that.
It has become easy for criminals to walk free if they can pay their way in some cases – as has been shown by the Anas Aremeyaw Anas investigations of the judiciary and the criminal justice system.
Let me point to some specific examples and individuals whose actions, some of them blatant that should have attracted sanctioning but did not.
All the people involved in the Brazil World Cup scandal – Elvis Ankrah, Kwasi Nyantakyi and the rest were never punished even though a committee set up to look into the matter found them culpable – they were shielded by the government. Nyantakyi only faced sanctions after Anas, again, caught him in Number 12 – the investigation exposing corruption in football.
The current deputy Minister of Information, Pious Hadzide when he was a deputy Minister of Sports was found to be involved in the Australia visa scandal – he was accused of providing 12 names – the 12 party footsoldiers were among the fake journalists who were busted in Australia and returned to Ghana. But the CID committee set up to look into the matter cleared him and he was shifted to another ministry. The President announced Hadzide was cleared in a week that he was embarking on a regional tour to the Volta Region, and the first place he visited, was Hadzide’s hometown.
A former Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor was found to have spent almost a million dollars to brand buses. A committee as usual, was set up to investigate the issue, her actions were found to have been unlawful and recommendations were made for her prosecution. But the government sat on the report. It took a civil society organization, OccupyGhana to go to court and demand a copy of the report. Ms Attivor is yet to be prosecuted, in spite of the recommendations of the committee.
In a serious country Joseph Siaw Agyapong, would have been out of business – having been caught up in a number of corruption scandals, including in Sierra Leone and Liberia where his companies paid bribes to get World Bank funded contracts, the World Bank found out and blacklisted his companies from bidding for the Bank’s contracts for three years. In Ghana, his businesses have been found to be involved in corruption, but he is walking free and still winning government contracts, and in one instance, President Akufo-Addo praised him publicly.
Nana Appiah Mensah known as NAM1 – has a record of engaging in fraud. But he wriggled his way around, and succeeded in setting up another scam – Menzgold, a Ponzi scheme and raked in billions of cedis. Despite his records of fraud in the past, Ghanaians apparently looked the other way, while he hobnobbed with people who matter in the country, including the president; using pictures he has taken with them to enchant prospective victims. NAM1 it appears would walk free, and his victims if they survive, would possibly be scarred for life. If he was held to account for his past crimes, he probably wouldn’t have been around to come up with another scheme of such grand proportion. But alas, Ghanaians are forgiving.
Police men and women are seen daily collecting bribes from drivers on the streets of the country, but it is uncommon to hear that police officers have been sanctioned for that. As a result of the nonchalance of the system, some rogue police officers now can shoot at unarmed civilians, kill them, plant weapons on the corpses and claim they are armed robbers who had exchanged fire with them, and often they are never questioned. It was only recently that a committee was eventually set up to look into a particular incident of such cold blooded murder because some citizens of the affected community demanded it. Seven young lives were snuffed out by police on patrol at Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region in that case. But the seven-member committee found that there is no evidence to suggest that the seven young people who were needlessly shot and killed by the peace officers and labeled as armed robbers, were armed and they didn’t exchange fire with the police as the officers claimed.
After the committee’s decision – which called for the interdiction of the 21 officers involved, some police personnel, quite obviously enamoured by past experiences of getting away with murder came out to protest the decision of the committee.
There have been videos posted online of military men brutalizing citizens for acts they considered ‘unlawful’. Military people in uniform would often seize every opportunity to ‘discipline’ citizens, by assaulting and brutalizing them, even though, members of the military by their training and code of conduct, should be some of the most disciplined professionals – there are so many incidences of indiscipline by members of the military services, and there aren’t enough evidence that they have been sanctioned.
Not long ago, five major commercial banks collapsed. It is well known that owners of the banks collapsed them on purpose – by siphoning the funds, mostly by giving loans to themselves that they had no intentions of paying back. Yet, there is every indication that no one would ever face justice in those cases.
Some years back, Anas, did an investigation exposing a quack doctor in Madina, Accra, who performed abortions on women, and sexually abused them in the process – it appears he is walking free after the horrendous video was aired, and probably he is back into the deplorable business.
Governments pretend to be building infrastructure by constructing roads at 10 times more than it would normally cost. The roads are inaugurated and after a few months they deteriorate, but Ghanaians simply shrug and move on, unmoved by the obvious criminality of inflating the cost of the roads – often the extra money goes into individual pockets.
Depending on which political party is in power, some acts are wrong and others are right. People elected into office become the law and often act above the law, much in the same way politically connected people poopoo the laws, act with impunity and still walk.
I can go on and on to list examples, which most Ghanaians are familiar with. While it is not the case that crimes are not sanctioned at all, there are some obvious offences that just don’t get punished.
Serious sexual offences perpetrated against defenceless girls, boys, women and some men are settled at ‘home’. Victims are shamed and forced to bear responsibility for dastardly acts committed against them.
Ghanaians want to be seen as religious people, eager to go to heaven and therefore, believe that offenders should be forgiven, even when they have visibly broken the law. While the law can be lenient – because the law is in the bosom of the judge, it does so under lawful circumstances where the individuals have appeared before the courts and showed remorse.
The blanket overlooking of infractions and criminal behavior with long-term effects on victims doesn’t make us forgiving, it shows how broken our system is.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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