I have never met Justice Bamford-Addo, Speaker of Parliament, in my life, but I always remember her for a statement she made as a Supreme Court judge in the late 1990s that "Truth is no defence." A columnist of the Free Press, Mr. Kwabena Mensah-Bonsu, had written an article in connection with the famous Page 28 incident, in which the late former Chief Justice, I.K. Abban, was alleged to have doctored a ruling of the Supreme Court, by inserting a 1972 Daily Graphic editorial as the opinion of Dr. K.A. Busia.
Justice Abban took strong exception to the allegation, and subsequently dragged Mr. Mensah Bonsu, who later became Ghana's Ambassador to the Republic of Togo in the Kufuor regime, to the Supreme Court on contempt of court charges. It was during her ruling on this particular case that the current Speaker of Parliament made the statement that "Truth is of no defence." Of course, the former Supreme Court judge was severely bashed in the newspapers for that comment, because it beats the ordinary man's imagination that a judge of her stature would make such a comment.
It, however, emerged later that the comment was deeply rooted in law, and that Justice Bamford-Addo did not err. I am not a lawyer, therefore, I will not challenge the claim by the legal luminaries that it was a fair comment the Supreme Court judge made. I however, want to juxtapose this comment with the recent comment made by one of our former presidents, Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, about the health status of the just deceased President Mills.
When the death of President Mills was announced on Tuesday, Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu, were in far away Congo Brazzaville. They were, therefore, approached by the BBC to comment on the incident. Mr. Rawlings, however, saw that as an opportunity, and went bonkers saying all manner of things against the deceased President. To him, if the late President Mills had "done something wiser," he could have survived a while longer than he did.
"It was quite a shock to both my wife and I. Because he has been battling the cancer for quite a while, but this is certainly the wrong time for him to go, because we have elections around the corner in December. Quite frankly, I think that had he been advised and done something wiser earlier on, he could probably have survived for another six, seven months I guess, but it got too tight; it got extremely tight.
"He has played his part. As my Vice President, he was one of the finest, but there again, considering that the CANCER AFFECTED HIS EYES AND EARS (sic), he couldn't sustain more than three hours a day, so it was naturally going to affect his performance." The man who is a former president of Ghana did not end there, but went further to attack the deceased for failing to punish or investigate the cold blooded killings of people during the erstwhile Kufuor administration.
Every Ghanaian knows that the late President Mills was sick, but can that serve as a defence for Mr. Rawlings to grant an interview to BBC, of all radio stations, and make these comments against the late President? Rawlings can well be my father, but I am sorry to say that he has a big problem which I would not want to state here. It is against our tradition and customs for the dead to be subjected to ridicule. I am an Ewe like Mr. Rawlings, and he is aware that our customs do not allow what he has done. Professor Mills was a nice law lecturer at Legon when Mr. Rawlings dragged him from the lecture room to become the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In 1996, the same Rawlings nominated Professor Mills to become his running-mate, and eventually, Vice President.
The former military ruler again, supported the late President to become President of Ghana. Regrettably, President Mills never enjoyed peace at the hands of Mr. Rawlings when he assumed office as President of Ghana. Criticism is good for the sustenance of our democracy, but Mr. Rawlings went beyond that and resorted to raining downright insults on the man whose academic credentials he cannot match. At a certain point in time, Mr. Rawlings who, but for the barrel of the gun, would not have come near the Osu Castle, let alone, become the President of Ghana, even referred to the late President as being 'Konongo Kaya.'
I stand to be corrected, but in all these instances, President Mills never stood anywhere to make adverse comments against the founder of his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), until he passed away peacefully last week Tuesday. One would have, therefore, thought that now that the man is no more living, he would be treated with dignity, but this is not what Ghanaians are seeing. In the game of boxing when you knock down your opponent, you don't follow with more punches whilst the opponent is down. President Mills is dead and gone, but this heartless former coup maker is still insulting him. What a kind of person is this?
If this former coup maker has forgotten the customs and traditions of this country, didn't he learn anything about diplomacy during the 19 solid years he ruled this country? When this man came to power in 1979, he dragged three former heads of state to the Teshie Shooting Range in Accra and shot them for alleged crimes that did not deserve the death penalty. His regime also committed several atrocities against Ghanaians. Despite these obvious shortcomings, would the children of Mr. Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu, be happy if a prominent citizen should also go on BBC to say the man whose hands were tainted with blood had died?
Ever since the late President's death was announced, former President Kufuor has granted several radio interviews, but nowhere, I repeat, nowhere did Mr. Kufuor make any unfair comments against his successor. Mr. Kufuor is even coming from a political party which was trying to wrestle power from ex President Mills, but he praised him in all these interviews I have spoken about, to the extent of going to visit the late President's wife at her home. I quite also remember an interview he granted BBC in London somewhere last year.
When Mr. Kufuor was asked to comment on the state of our economy, based on the position of his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), that the economy was being mismanaged, the former president refused to make any adverse comments, preferring to do so at home and not at an international forum like the BBC. That is the mark of a true statesman.
But, instead of Mr. Rawlings following these nice footsteps, he has rather decided to use the international media to announce to the world that the Professor Mills was suffering from throat cancer which affected his eye and ear. What has even driven me crackers was Mr. Rawlings disgraceful statement that if the man was wise, he would have probably lived for six or seven more months before he dies. Is this man the Almighty God to determine when someone should die? In fact, I feel ashamed to call myself an Ewe, looking at the way Mr. Rawlings is disgracing us. Our culture completely frowns on the attitude being put up by the Dzelukope-born ex-military man.
When Mr. Kufuor's government was in power, Jerry Rawlings made an atrocious statement that he knew some ministers serving in that government who were behind the serial killing of women in the country. When he was asked to produce the evidence, he demanded that he be subjected to chemical interrogation. But, today, the same man, who ran away from proving his case, has turned round to accuse President Mills of failing to investigate these senseless killings. Is this the farewell an ex-president should give to his colleague?
Based on all of what I have observed in this article, I wonder if Mr. Rawlings would muster the courage and go to the home of Mrs. Naadu Mills to greet her. I am equally wondering if he would go the State House to file past the body of the late President Mills when he is laid in state and pretend to be mourning him. But, you know what; this man called Rawlings has no shame, so I know he would definitely go there. But, before he does that, I suggest to him to issue a press statement immediately to apologise to Ghanaians, and the family of Mills in particular, over the unguarded statement he made on BBC.
I fully support Justice Bamford-Addo that truth is no defence, and in this case, Mr. Rawlings has no defence and must apologise.