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Judge Mend Day. Critical News, 13th September 2015

Posted by Business in Ghana on September 14, 2015

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I don’t want to write this week and I am sure I will not be ready next week, so I am putting pieces together for a sequel. I have made some contribution to this piece, but most of it is by my friends on social media and it is their informed and challenging minds that keep us going on matters that seem to go above the heads of the political class, or maybe they are way smarter than you and me, who think there is a need to correct the way we have shaped Ghana.

I am not sad. I am way beyond sad. I know I am in a mild depression. Everything we have premised our future on, especially in OccupyGhana has been on the back of a strong Judiciary. I am not heartbroken, because I fell out of love with Ghana after the election petition, totally convinced that justice was not served. So this is a wake up call. Until the Judiciary restores the fair balance in its favor, we are doomed. Call it as you may, this, if not corrected is the end of the Coat of Arms.

It started, as it always does, with a splatter of feeling from one of us and then harmataned into a whole different weather front.

Because fellow OccupyGhana founder, Ace Ankomah put his name to this piece and triggered all the sentiment you are about to read, I can mention his name. His piece is already on the Web. I don’t have permission from others to use their names, so I will leave you guessing who my friends are in this conversation.

This is what engages us and pushes us to traction our thoughts into some constructive energy.

By the way, let me mention that OccupyGhana celebrates one year next week and we will have an event to recap where we are. Many have asked why so quiet? All will be told on the day.

So this is Ace’s “A Ranting Confession”.

“It was about 10 years ago, if I am not mistaken. I had stopped teaching at Legon for about 2 years. I received a call from the office of the late CJ Acquah, to come in and see him.

Not knowing what was up, I simply went. He had very kind words to say about my work and me and then said he was going to submit my name as one of the judges for the Commercial Courts, which was then being set up. CJ Acquah was blunt to a fault. He said that if I worked hard, I could make it to the Court of Appeal in a couple of years and that in about a decade I could be on the Supreme Court bench. He said that with my age (probably 37 at the time), only the sky could be my limit, once I made it that far.

Right there and then, I knew my answer. But to be polite, I asked for a little time to think about it. And, although I knew what my answer would be, i did give it a thought. I spoke with my senior partners in the firm, my family, very close friends and my pastors.

On the set date, I went to see CJ Acquah again and politely declined the offer. He asked for my reasons, and I gave him many rehearsed answers, the silliest being that I thought the position would restrict me, since I still loved playing music with bands. When pressed further, I told the simple truth, and in Fante: “My Lord, mé gye bribe,” translated, “My Lord, I will take bribes.”

He burst out laughing. But I explained that I had spent so much time building a private legal career, which was just about bearing fruit. I also had young children whom I had very great plans for. If I left private practice and became a judge, I would always look back and wonder and regret. I would be unhappy. I would still want to drive fast cars (yes, that’s my weakness, still). And if the pay was not sufficient to sustain that lifestyle, I would find myself taking bribes.

To CJ Acquah’s credit, he did not try to convince me any further. He let me go, although, subsequently, he and Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare dragged me kicking and screaming to become a senior lecturer at the law school. But that’s another story.

Why am I saying this? I am wondering where I would be today, if I had gone to the Bench. Would I have worked hard and made it to the Court of Appeal or even Supreme Court by now? Probably Court of Appeal. Would I have become a bribe-taking judge? Do you want an honest answer to that? I think…, I might. Would Anas have filmed me by now? Probably. And you, yes, your the one reading this would be saying, “Ei, Ace, we thought he went to church. But we always knew that there was something dodgy about him.” Yes, you!!

I am no angel. I like good things, and I hope to get good things even in the afterlife as well, God being my helper. But as I look at this Anas Sting story unfold, I look back at the honest answer that I gave to CJ Acquah, and I am glad I did that. But I am sad, very sad, and I keep having flashes of what I saw in the Anas films, and I keep saying, “THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME.”

And this comment came from me.

“Ah you see, therein lies their excuse. In our society we excuse brief moments of temptation, when we are not strong enough to resist the attraction of flesh or cash.
 When even an Ace Ankomah run away because he anticipated that his strong moral backbone would not hold forth, who are the others who will crack? 
In the court of public religion the idiots will come to plead their case before the already corrupt judges who, looking into the future are already hedging their bets”.

Ace’s personal reflection has made it to the WWW. 
But now the big question is this. If the person most admired today as a fine lawyer and god-fearing person, refused a bench seat for fear of being corrupted, does that not give wings to the accused and weaker spined to justify what they did? In the public space?

And we continued

“Ace lovely 2nd piece. I’ll opt to look at it from leadership being cause and everything else effect. The current system easily makes being upright an exception”.

“How many of our leaders move in as successful people with nothing to lose? How many genuinely identify the role as true and pure service? How many successful people wish to partake in the political leadership required to swiftly drive change? How many will not scream I’m arguing a class society?

How many of the successful will respect the fact that who you know should matter not.

There’s a lot to learn from Singapore and the one man LKM!”

And here is Ace’s part two and maybe even more sliced point.

“THE DAY I LOST MY… INNOCENCE

I was a young lawyer, probably 27. I still had great ideas and dreams about law being all about justice and equality. A relative had been arrested and charged with ‘stealing’. She has been in some money transfer business from outside Ghana, and one customer claimed that some beneficiary in Ghana didn’t receive some money. I was her lawyer by default.

It was a preposterous charge. But my view was that we should simply pay the money.

On the court date, I arrived early and went to see the Police Prosecutor in his office to say that we were willing to pay the money. To my surprise, he grabbed the case file, which was with him, and said that we should go and see the Judge and inform him about it.

I followed him, and we entered the Judge’s chambers by the backdoor. The Prosecutor told the Judge about my offer to pay the money. But he spoke Twi. “That is a bit odd,” I thought. It suggested that they were more chummy than should be the case.

The Judge turned to me with a huge and almost lecherous smile and asked if i had the “Deutsch Marks” on me, also in Twi. I managed to mutter a “yes.” The he said to go and pay it to the Prosecutor and come back on the next adjourned date and announce the settlement to the court. He picked the case file from the Prosecutor and wrote the agreed date on it.

At the Prosecutor’s office, I paid the money to him in the presence of the complainant.

On the next adjourned date, I returned to court, thinking that this was all over. When the case was called, I gleefully informed the judge of the settlement.

What happened next, blew me. The Judge was angry, flaming angry. He shouted at me, asking who told me that I could settle the matter by just paying the money? He threatened to report the Prosecutor to his bosses. I was speechless. But the Prosecutor was cool, absolutely nonplussed. But i was confused. Was this not the same Judge who gave the settlement his stamp of approval just the previous week? The Judge then adjourned the case again, commanding the Prosecutor to produce his witness on the next date.

Outside, I asked the Prosecutor about what just happened. He simply shrugged and said to me in Twi: “énkasa ne ho. Weyi deé maanma no sika no bi,” translated, “do not mind him. This time, I did not share the money with him.”

I felt dizzy. The truth hit me like a ton of bricks. After we paid the money, the Prosecutor had pocketed some of the complainant’s money. The Judge had expected a cut, but had been swindled out of it. That explained his anger in open court. Worse, although I never intended that to happen, I had just been part of a bribe and swindle deal. I felt dirty.

The Prosecutor then told me to simply go and not return. That was the end of it.

I was haunted for days. I am still haunted. My innocence had been taken from me without my consent. This was rape, a rape of my innocence and belief in the system.

This Judge had been appointed to office upon the belief that he met the constitutional standard of being “of high moral character and proven integrity.” He had also sworn the constitutional oath to “bear true faith and allegiance to the republic of Ghana as by law established; … uphold the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Ghana; … truly and faithfully perform the functions of [the] office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; and… all times uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Ghana.”

Yet, here he was, clearly in cahoots with a police prosecutor, extorting monies from complainants and sharing the booty. What else was that duo up to in the court? When cheated out of the booty, all the judge could do was to rave and rant in court, powerless to take any sanctions because he had been compromised.

What was worse, I had been sucked into that corrupt scheme, whether I liked it or not. I had been corrupted. I had been raped. I toyed with the idea of going to the police. But what could I prove? Nothing. I was powerless.

This is Ghana. You don’t have to set out to be corrupt. The corrupt system will suck you in, whether you like it or not. You lose your innocence, and soon you lose your conscience. Soon, what is evil becomes the norm and good becomes the exception.

“How can a young man keep his way pure?” an ancient bard who became King of Israel, mused once. I ask, how does a Ghanaian keep his way pure? You, yes, you, let’s have an honest ………. Ch” [truncated by WhatsApp]”

“Yes R, but isn’t it an even greater lie that we can do it all alone? The world has never operated to make impact except when people pull together. Everything in this world operates bigger by working together. Sodium and Chlorine are dangerous to health on their own. They embrace each other and boom…. the element of good taste and preservation. Nothing works best in its corner alone.”

“Many say it isn’t the aystem that corrupts good men who go into it. All the political parties have used that system – they all know what needed changing but didn’t because it worked to their advantage. I agree we should look into ourselves to find the issues. But ALL change is POLITICAL.  I personally think sending one or two good men into the system is equal to sending them to their doom – knowingly. 
My recipe: Like Israel, when an entire generation became corrupt, God being God did not change the leaders one by one – He wiped out the entire corrupt lot and replaced it with a new order.
 A new order is what God needs. Godly able and capable men – arm in arm who march forward and dethrone a corrupt order.
 Until that happens. That is what Kwame Nkrumah did too. He came with his people. Yes someone else’s party but he didn’t go it alone. The people who must change Ghana are the people who believe Ghana needs changing but…
The new wine must not be poured into the old wineskin nor the old patch of cloth sewn onto the new”

And more sages joined in from personal knowledge and experience.

“Years ago I watched an American movie starring a Chinese lead actor called The Corruptor and I was intrigued for 2 reason: the title was a new word for me and then the story line…a highly successful and performing detective who breaks some laws, takes bribes but is feared by the criminals etc….it’s always stayed with me because to the bigger authorities this detective was responsible for corrupting a whole department so they didn’t remove them, they went after the Corruptor”.

“We must look deeper and find the Corruption touch points. When we bribe our way from a traffic cop to passport office to drivers license acquisition we just keep the cycle going. The answer is probably Politics but politics is also the greatest Corruptor because it’s very beginnings and entry point is shrouded in deal making and wheeling”.

“Ace your introspection comes from the bible, “Man, Know thy self” and I think we all need regular introspective look in our way of life. Indeed…..cherish fearless honesty as M quotes”.

“This country needs a leader who is ready to shake the very foundations of all aspects of govt. I see one who can do that but don’t see him elected ever until he does the Ghanaian needful”.

“Ace’s story struck many chords in me. We need to fix this system. which corrupts the righteous”.

“I have a habit of impressing on my family and friends abroad to return to Ghana to join us fight for the nation. I tell them the more right thinking people we have, the easier it will be. So I pushed my Harvard trained engineer brother to return home and work here. I don’t think I was his only consideration but in the end he packed out of his nice USA job working for a company which designs semi conductors and micro chips and returned to Ghana. 
First it was hard getting a job to match his skills etc etc but this is why i write this piece.

He was on his way to our farm near Kasoa and because the road was still under construction the side road was unusable and traders had packed wares onto it. Everyone avoided it and made a turn off the main road. The police had found a gold mine. Instead if clearing the traders, they had positioned themselves off the bend and once you turn they arrest you and take ghc 5.

My brother fell in the trap and they demanded the bribe. This Yankee boy Harvard returnee didn’t see why he should pay for doing no wrong. He pointed out that it was impossible to use the side road etc. etc. etc.

Long story short they said they were taking him to court so he called me. 
I raved and ranted and told him “dont pay, its wrong” then i started calling lawyers. I wasnt a lawyer then, I called the best lawyers in the land and some were family EVERY ONE OF THEM TOLD ME NOT TO BE SILLY!!! I was shocked.

They all told me to stop testing these police people and risking my brother. I was told they could throw him in remand and forget him etc etc. 
in the end, one if the lawyers told me K let me handle this. It will cost you ghc 350. He wasn’t a friend. My friends had told me what to do. 
I paid the money and a day later he told me. I have disposed of the case, don’t ask any questions. 
I just shut up realising that i may have put my brother at unnecessary risk FOR INSISTING ON DOING THE RIGHT THING. 
Its a tough call and i have had more of such situations where it was just stupid to do it right. It makes me worry, very very much. But i pray for Ghana to get better”.

But this is very deep and a classic.

“Sharing my rantings this morning on another forum…(not Sydney)

What’s happening to our society?  Why can’t we just be honest with each other?  At least we can start from our offices or little corners…

Even amongst friends, we are scamming each other, yet we point accusing fingers at others and then defend the corrupt.

Try speaking up or standing up against the wrong in society and you are branded or tagged.

Yet we still go to church every Sunday and even participate in other church activities during the week. We lie to God, we lie to others and even lie to ourselves…

Life can be very simple if only, we can be ourselves and live within our means…we are too pretentious.

We borrow to live our borrowed life and end up scamming to maintain this life. We enslave ourselves for nothing.

What are we teaching the next generation?
 We should remember that, our children are a part.

We are always in a hurry to be successful and end up in needless competition. Life is not like a common entrance exam where we all write the same paper or answer the same questions, yet, we copy blindly forgetting we all have different questions to answer.  From our homes to the church, we celebrate the corrupt and blame the honest.

We should all take our time and carefully read the questions in our life and we will be amazed at how simple the answers are.

Stop being what you are not and you will discover your full potential.

We should not allow our political affiliation, support or interest to deny what is right for mother Ghana. Greed and our selfish stance is destroying our beautiful country. After making money for ourselves through corrupt means, we don’t end there but continue “stealing” and cheating others to prepare the future for our children instead of preparing the future for them – good education and morals. We steal to build houses for our teenage kids.

Is this the Ghana we are building for the next generation?  Are we happy and proud of our role and contribution?  We fight to get into politics with the promise to save Ghana and end up raping her.

Yes, we are all not perfect and can never be perfect because we are human. But we can strive for perfection.

What has become of all the knowledge (education) our parents paid for with their toil?

Now, the system is making people give up because we seem to be moving from bad to worse without any hope in sight. People throwing in the towel and joining the bus to avoid missing out on the journey of success.

But we can’t give up!!! And must not give up!!!  People who did not give up made most inventions making life easy for us possible.  I guess they couldn’t even enjoy their fruits like we are privileged to enjoy today.

Lets continue to fight for Ghana and the next generation from our small corner. Let’s play our part.  Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. One generation plants the tree, another gets the shade and another the fruit. Don’t join the bandwagon, be the change you want to see.

We can do it for our next generation. We should remember that, the tree can ONLY grow if we irrigate it with water from the objective river/spring.

And If ONLY we can point our left fingers at our fathers when they go wrong we can achieve more.  Let’s be bold for Ghana and the next generation. 
We can’t preach virtue and defend vice.

Sometimes, we cannot choose the music life plays but we can choose/learn how to dance to it.  Let us be careful not to copy someone’s dance moves, because he/she might be deaf.

Our moral foundation is under serious threat. Let us all be part of the rescue team.

Be honest and fail, but corrupt and succeed. We can’t continue this way; it’s becoming more and more expensive to do the right thing in Ghana. 

Let’s stop it!!!!”

“Absolutely fantastic piece, Ace! Struck a cord with me and (dare I say) many here. I’m no angel either and I can’t say that I have never succumbed to “slipping” an officer determined to drag me to court in Nkawkaw for over speeding or other infraction. I have also paid a price for doing the right thing and I am now “wiser”.

“There’s a lot to be said for cutting one’s teeth in the private sector before attempting to assume any public office. Not that it has stopped anyone but it certainly reduces the influence of money”.

“I experienced a Coup D’tat in my childhood, enduring the humiliation of my father incarcerated for almost 2 years with many other Ministers in Busia’s regime – the taunting followed me even in secondary school. It is a tough life being in public office. I have seen other relatives in public office that took the moral high ground and died poor unable to give their children the best they could have. I’m constantly reminded of this and the overriding need to take care of one’s family.”

“There is something to be said for Lee Kuan Yeuw’s practice of hiring the best of Singapore comparable to the best of Oxford, Harvard, Wall Street and paying them well. Then creating laws that punish the slightest graft. For example, in Singapore, unlike Ghana, who ever (receiver or giver) that reports the “act” walks free whereas in Gh, both are culpable. This practice in Ghana encourages collusion in the act. There are similar principles in game theory found in economics. I don’t think this is news to our legislators. To curb this we must remove the incentives for inappropriate behavior that Ace has spoken of in other interviews. Frankly we are where we are because we have allowed it to be so”.

So I will end it here and you can be the best judge of the thoughts we share and why the politician sees no reason to make Ghana a “corruption-free” country.

It doesn’t serve their purpose. The Citizen fight must be engaged and a solution found to this noose around our public purse, which hole flows in only one direction.

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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One Response to “Judge Mend Day. Critical News, 13th September 2015”

  1. Beulah said

    That is your first footer widget field. To edit go to Look >Widgets and select Footer Widget 2.

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