WELL DONE, ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT
By CAMERON DUODU
I am pleased that the Attorney-General’s Department has filed an application at the Accra High Court, praying the Court to set aside the 10-year prison sentence imposed on Charles Antwi by Mr Justice Francis Obiri on 28 July 2015.
The appeal is welcome because the current trend in this country is that Government departments do not pay the slightest heed to public opinion. Secondly, the judgement in question was so bad that were it to prevail, it would constitute a blot on the administration of justice in the country. Finally, the judgement was so full of errors that it would have undermined the work being done at our Universities and the Ghana School of Law to impart a true knowledge of jurisprudence to their students.
I mean – a guy sweats a lot, after obtaining his first degree, to pass his entrance examination to the Ghana Law School. He sweats even more profusely to pass exams that seem designed to fail as many students as possible. Thereby, he becomes qualified to practise as a lawyer in the courts of Ghana.
He sees Mr Obiri conducting a case brought before him in a manner that rubbishes everything he has been taught. The judge does not know that if a person gives the appearance of being of unsound mind, his plea must not be taken. For the case to go ahead, the judge must first send the accused person to a psychiatrist hospital, where a qualified psychiatrist would put him through tests to establish his true condition of mind. It is only when a competent psychiatrist has certified that the accused person is of sound mind that his trial can begin.
Shock horror! Does being “confident” about what one says mean it cannot be nonsensical? If that were so, we would have, ages ago, seen the fulfilment of the prophecy often made by psychotics that “The end of the world is nigh!”, would we not?
No – If the Obiri judgement had remained unchallenged, it would have set a very bad precedent for the prosecution of cases before the country’s courts. Even in places like Britain, where miscarriages of justice are rare, one or two judges used to earn the notoriety of being a “hanging judge” ( during the days when the death penalty was still legal). So just imagine lazy prosecution officers in Ghana being able to say, “Let’s send him to this or that court! They will bang him in!” Would it not undermine the administration of justice altogether?
“Politically-inspired?” Does the Government mean to tell us that with all their education, doctors cannot tell when they are being cheated by politicians who are themselves living well – unless they are prodded by a political party? What a patronising attitude! How infantile!
All that is well and good, but has the Government taken the trouble to find out what the relationship is between what the Cuban Government pays its doctors and what it pays its Ministers and Deputy Ministers? Has the Government bothered to study the history of medical education in Cuba at all? Is it aware that when Castro took over power in 1959, many doctors left the island and that the new ones who were trained, were subjected to a socialist orientation and that this worked, because they operated in a “ration-economy” in which whatever the country produced was shared equitably amongst all sectors of the populace? Does Ghana, with its IMF-inspired economic policy based on “market forces,” think our society is akin to a socialist society?
The Attorney-General’s Department, in appealing against the Francis Obiri decision, is exhibiting an attitude which other arms of government would do well to emulate. As the saying goes in one of our proverbs: “If you didn’t hear what was said the first time, do go back and listen to it again!”
In a word: Sankofa!
Does our Government realise that this ancient principle is embossed on our Sword of State and our presidential chair, among other State artefacts?
That emblem is not there for nothing – except to a government led by a dead goat!