Folks, it is clear that some nail-biting is going on in the NDC camp over the arrest, detention, and processing of Koku Anyidoho (Deputy General Secretary of the NDC) for trial on the allegation of treason by virtue of utterances he made that the Akufo-Addo government hates. We have already unpacked his utterances and suggested that they were part of what made Koku the victim of circumstances wrought by himself.
Is Koku willing to present himself as the sacrificial lamb for the NDC’s future good? We have seen pictures of him and former president Mahama; but we are left slack-jawed as to why Mahama’s intervention couldn’t effectuate his release from custody and why the abject silence from Akufo-Addo. Or is it just a matter of letting the law run its own course? And what law is that, anyway?
The reaction from the NDC camp is ambivalent. The party leaders have been quick in disassociating the party and themselves from those utterances while at the same time vigorously sympathizing with him and warning the Akufo-Addo administration not to overstep bounds in handling the matter.
Situated within the context of the simmering public anger against Team Akufo-Addo for masterminding the endorsement of the agreement on security cooperation between the United States and Ghana by the NPP-dominated Parliament, Koku’s utterances appear to be grossly misplaced. However, his fate isn’t so: treason calls for the maximum penalty of death or a long incarceration to reduce the victim to nothingness.
Be whatever it may portend, this particular instance is the first in our 4th Republican experiment that poses serious questions regarding fundamental human rights on the freedom of expression or whatever else. Of course, freedom of expression isn’t limitless. It is “contained” and “containable” as captured in the popular saying: “You have the freedom or right to swing your arms; but that freedom ends at the tip of my nose. Simple!!
Koku swung his arms but exceeded limits by hitting the nose of the NPP administration whose immediate reaction has turned out to paint it as grossly intolerant, pitiably ignorant of precedent set by its Akufo-Addo and others, and mindless of the damage to its reputation and risk to Ghana’s democracy. If it cannot contain the pressure from the Koku Anyidoho’s just blowing empty hot air, how can it deal with the situation when the Right to Information Bill is passed into law? (And given the fact that one credit that Akufo-Addo basks in is his influence on the Kufuor administration to repeal the Criminal Libel law in Ghana)!!
Folks, let’s land. Koku is in the grips of the law, which the NPP camp is enthusing over, even as more remains to be known on whether his case is any different from others that had occurred under previous administrations but were glossed over. The records are there for anyone to refer to.
Whether what is happening in his course should be allowed to run its full course is another niggle. Former president Rawlings is reported to have said that the NDC camp should not over-do things but allow the “due process” to run its full course in Koku’s case, which raises serious questions, especially when viewed in the context of his own political ambitions.
Ghana’s replete with instances of Koku’s case. Is it the “Big Six”? Or the very members of Nkrumah’s government who were accused of treachery and put before court? Or the case of the reactionary forces led by Dr. J.B. Danquah who were brought to their knees with the Preventive Detention Act?
Or all others thereafter, spanning the National Liberation Council era, the National Redemption Council era of Kutu Acheampong (when the Alex Hamah’s and Kofi Awoonors were accused of treason and tried? Or under Fred Akuffo when Rawlings was pidgin-holed and court-martialled?
Let me focus on this Rawlings episode to say that when May 15, 1979, flopped, he faced dire circumstances when no thought of rule-of-law influenced anything to his advantage. Had his trial been concluded as planned, he would have been executed on Monday, June 4, 1979. To his advantage, Major Boakye-Gyan and the others led the movement to liberate him and usher him into a new era of political boom and glory. Those of us alive to happenings at the time still remember all. Don’t turn me on here, folks!!
But suffice it to ask whether Rawlings allowed any due process in the affairs of the victims of his tight-grip administration under the AFRC and PNDC.
In the era of the AFRC and PNDC, especially, those who stood against him ended at the Teshie military range, bullets riddling their bodies and their bodies buried at undisclosed spots that Kufuor would constitute a committee to identify in the Nsawam area for them to be exhumed and given a fitting burial in their hometowns. Kutu Acheampong, Afrifa, Amedume, Utika, Boakye, Odartey Lamptey, and Roger Felli faded out of existence. So did many unaccounted-for ones too. Can Rawlings tell us if they were given any “due process” before being sent to the west? Sad!!
Many other so-called coup plotters were disposed of under Rawlings. Some were serving or retired military officers, so-called armed robbers, etc. who were tried at the public tribunals and summarily condemned to death. What due process is Rawlings talking about in this case of Koku Anyidoho?
We now boil matters down to what befell Rawlings when his political sun set. When Kufuor’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission targeted him, he wasn’t left alone. The mass of NDC supporters gave him all the “weight” he needed to feel protected, even at the time that fears about the due process of law being followed abounded. It was the same show of solidarity when his overbearing wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, was being tried for financial malfeasance.
That show of support had its positive impact as it proved to Kufuor that the NDC won’t just sit down unconcerned for him to manipulate the situation to damn the Rawlingses. No wonder that Kufuor had the foresight of an impending NPP loss at Election 2008 to whitewash Nana Konadu and the others just a day before he left office.
Folks, all I am trying to say here is that what Rawlings has come out with is spirit-dampening because it doesn’t fit into the energizing moment that the NDC has wrought in its bid to lead Ghanaians to oppose the obnoxious agreement that the confused Akufo-Addo Team has signed with the US to mortgage Ghana’s sovereignty for a paltry 20 million Dollars!!
The waywardness of Koku Anyidoho is just an unexpected offshoot. To concentrate on it and to create the impression that Rawlings has sought to do with his appeal to the NDC loyalists to allow the due process to ruin its course belies a lot that makes me insist that Rawlings is really lost in the scheme of things.
If he has any thought and respect for the “due process of law”, he would have done things better than he did when he was the strong-arm leader of Ghana. Pontificating all over the place won’t help him claw back lost grounds. In truth, the NDC’s credibility problem—and what has alienated segments of the electorate from it—can be pinpointed on Rawlings himself. So, what does he really seek to grab for the NDC’s good when he takes on his own political camp for rebuke and needless head-butting?
What specifically does Rawlings want to raise to help the NDC gain political capital? What lesson does he wish to teach us now apart from seeking to advance his own agenda by commenting on this Koku issue? Many mis-steps already!!
But the ultimate lesson to be learnt from Koku’s fate is that in a political system in flux, no one should tempt Fate by making utterances that have serious implications for national security. As I have already made clear, in a democracy, public or personal disavowal for or rejection of the government in power should be made in the ballot box (at the polls), not on media platforms to be (mis-)construed as treasonous/treasonable conduct. That is where Koku’s problem lies.
The lesson that this problem teaches us is that we need to know how to conduct affairs so we don’t over-step bounds. Those who seek to build a brighter future don’t undercut themselves with unconscionable behaviour as Koku has done.
And those in Koku’s political camp will do better than crying “Halleluia” all over the place as if doing so will ensure piety to return the NDC to power. It won’t because the voters have the past against which to view the present and the future. That’s the lesson to learn. No more for now.
I shall return…