GHANA: Justice Kpegah’s Judicial Portfolio Must Be Investigated

Not quite awhile ago, when I observed that warts and all, the now-opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) was the only authentically democratic political machinery in Fourth-Republican Ghana, some readers were miffed. Some even went on to sarcastically enumerate for my enlightenment, supposedly, via e-mail and Internet chat-room comments, instances of perceived gross injustice – some dating back to the Busia-led Progress Party (PP) era – in which Danquah-leaning operatives allegedly travestied democratic culture.

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The foregoing was all well and good, except that most of these critics either inadvertently or deliberately and, perhaps, even conveniently left one salient element out of their discourse. And it is the fact that I have never in any shape or form either suggested or even implied that the disciples and sympathizers of the democratic ideals championed by the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics have been perfect or infallible in their pursuit and/or conduct of governance.

And, indeed, had any of them paid sedulous attention to my quite extensive media fare, these critics would also have significantly observed, that is assuming they were honest enough, that I had been as caustic in my criticism as any when I perceived the erstwhile Kufuor administration to have elected the primrose path of administrative venality.

In essence, when I assert that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is the sole beacon of democracy on the Ghanaian political landscape, the reference is decidedly to the fact that it is unarguably the Danquah-Busia Tradition (DBT) that has doggedly pursued the rule of law, freedom and justice with the kind of responsiveness that is the globally recognized hallmark of democratic governance. In the case of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), for example, thoroughgoing vendetta appears to be the primal policy. For the NDC, a vintage faux-democratic spawn of the erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), is a populist, anti-democratic and anti-intellectual political machinery that thrives on what may be aptly termed as a “Marxian Politics of Envy.” And this is all the more to be expected, since this party which was founded and is chaperoned by Ghana’s most notoriously extortionate strongman, Mr. Jeremiah John Rawlings, envisages wealth created out of entrepreneurial diligence as an anathema at best, and criminally culpable at the worst.

And to be certain, under the tenure of the P/NDC, more Ghanaians have had their legitimately acquired wealth and property summarily expropriated than at any other time in the postcolonial era. Recently and curiously, however, the sitting pontiff of the NDC, President John Mills, appeared to have somewhat, and rather healthily, espied the proverbial light of justice and fair-play when he abruptly fired a Mr. Carl Wilson, who had been charged with the central NDC cabinet-status portfolio of property seizure. The president, a former University of Ghana tax-law professor, appeared to have been genuinely embarrassed by this longstanding NDC tradition of gubernatorial thievery.

When they are not engrossed in the ungodly business of brazen thievery (all in the name of national economic recovery/restitution), the key operatives of the NDC are preoccupied with the inexorable persecution of their political opponents. Recently, for instance, a former NDC-leaning judge of the Ghanaian Supreme Court, Mr. Kpegah, blazed media headlines when he bitterly faulted the country’s Attorney-General, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, for purportedly “going soft” on cabinet members and other highly placed officials who served in the Kufuor administration whom Mr. Kpegah insisted were criminally culpable (See “Justice Kpegah, Others Mount Pressure On Betty Mould To Prescute [sic] NPP Ministers” 3/11/10).

Understandably, such flagrantly undignified and clearly unprofessional conduct prompted a prominent member of the Ghanaian parliament, Mr. Samuel Atta-Akyea, to characterize Mr. Kpegah’s pronouncement as being unmistakably symptomatic of a mentally deranged man. Actually, the Akyem-Abuakwa South MP was a bit more charitable than my generous interpretation may seem to suggest. But that Mr. Atta-Akyea had, apparently, been forced to lecture Mr. Kpegah, the former Supreme Court judge, on the intricate dynamics of criminal prosecution, says more than a lot about the method and manner by which Mr. Kpegah was afforded seating on the bench of the august Ghanaian Supreme Court. More so when one couples the foregoing with the flagitiously politically charged circumstances under which Mr. Kpegah hanged up his judicial wig.

And for those of our readers who may have so soon forgotten, Mr. Kpegah resigned his judgeship nearly a year-and-half ago in lurid protest of a verdict handed down by one of his colleagues against Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, putatively and arguably the most corrupt official operative in Ghana’s fledgling oil industry. Mr. Tsikata, a criminal convict and brazen reprobate, would spend several months at the infamous Nsawam Medium-Security Prison for willfully causing financial loss to the state, government and people of Ghana – another clumsily and weirdly diplomatic term for the morbid act of theft. Since then, Mr. Kpegah appears to have gone on the war path against former cabinet appointees and other senior officials of the Kufuor administration.

What must also be highlighted is the fact that both Messrs. Kpegah and Tsikata are of Ewe ethnic extraction. This is no sheer coincidence at all, although the mere fact of the ruling National Democratic Congress’ being figure-headed by an Akan president may subtly and conveniently serve to mask up the clinically anti-Akan, Ewe-nationalist agenda of Mr. Kpegah.

In view of the foregoing, it clearly goes without saying that in order for both the individual and institutional integrity of Ghana’s Supreme Court to be both preserved and protected, all cases brought before the court involving non-Ewe individuals or corporate interests in which Mr. Kpegah participated or played a major role at any point must be reviewed and where judicially necessary and feasible, promptly rectified.

It would also make for a quite fascinating study, for an interested expert to forensically investigate the extent to which the Tsikata bona fide might be implicated in the brutal assassination of the three Ghanaian Supreme Court judges and the retired Army major.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy policy think tank, and the author of 21 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008).