Mahama’s belligerence and attacks on the judiciary ought to stop now

The former president John Dramani Mahama has exhibited an incessant appetite for criticising the country’s judiciary in recent times

The Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, was right. Indeed, Godfred Dame was absolutely brilliant, speaking at the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) annual conference in Ho, describing John Dramani Mahama’s unsavoury attacks on the judiciary as dents on the image of the judiciary in the sight of unsuspecting Ghanaians.

We are all aware of Mahama’s antics in recent times but his latest attack at the opening of the 2nd Annual Lawyers’ Conference of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Sunday 28 August 2022 is perhaps the most flagrant display of how little respect he has for Ghana’s democracy.

In Mahama’s own words, it will take a new chief justice to lead the process to repair what he said was the “badly dented image” of Ghana’s judiciary for people to regain trust in the system.

For him, the deteriorated image of the judiciary easily sparks laughter from citizens when they decide to go to the courts for justice.

Holy cow! The same judiciary that Mr Mahama presided over a few years back is totally lacking in integrity today?

Isn’t this a clear ques­tion­ing of the consti­tu­tional author­ity of the judi­ciary?

Political puppets

As with his actions in regard to the judiciary, this rhetoric attempting to delegitimise the courts as biased and political represents an escalation of a pattern.

As a matter of fact, John Mahama has displayed a troub­ling pattern of attack­ing Supreme Court justices and the courts for rulings he disagrees with – a pattern that began during the 2020 pres­id­en­tial election petition and has contin­ued into his opposition activism.

He has made a series of tweets and public state­ments attack­ing judges person­ally, ques­tion­ing the authority of the courts, suggest­ing that the court is biased, and suggest­ing that the judges and courts system would be to blame for future electoral violence.

While Mahama’s actions represent a new level of brazenness, they are in a long line of examples of his attempts to turn the judiciary into political puppets, thereby delegitimising the institution.

This threatens our entire system of govern­ment. The courts are bulwarks of our consti­tu­tion and laws, and they depend on the public to respect their judg­ments and on offi­cials to obey and enforce their decisions. Fear of personal attacks, public back­lash or enforce­ment fail­ures should not colour judi­cial decision-making, and political leaders have a respons­ib­il­ity to respect the courts and judi­cial decisions.

Again, conflicts between the courts and the political branches are common and, to some degree, expected. But such questionable behaviour and efforts to undermine the justice system must not be tolerated by right-thinking Ghanaians. It is all an attempt to wield political influence.

Truth is, Mahama is still bruised from his disastrous outing in 2020. It has been some 21 months after the last elections, and the loser keeps yelling and telling a bizarre election fraud story that has already been debunked both in court and in the public space.

Yes, Mr Mahama has been on and on about this for the umpteenth time. So, one would think that his party elders and advisors would step in and instruct him to shush, but no one seems to care.

Loose talk

It is astonishing that after repeated claims of electoral malfeasance and the worst performances at the Supreme Court, the former president is still not learning lessons from his mistakes.

This same Mahama took everyone on a wild goose chase at the Supreme Court and he continues to deflect blame in any direction he can throw it without reflecting on his own failures. His stories are so outrageous and demonstrably false that you have to be wilfully blind to keep going along.

While the NPP, after the 2012 elections, proceeded to court with substantial evidence to back its claims of infractions, which included overvoting, voting without verification et cetera, the NDC in 2020 went to court with practically zero evidence to back its claims of electoral fraud.

The Supreme Court couldn’t have given a verdict in Mahama’s favour without evidence. His petition was subsequently thrown out, and Mahama simply doesn’t get it. He has since been on the rampage at every turn, disparaging the Supreme Court.

It is truly beyond comprehension that the NDC is so poorly led that Mahama is able to get away with such loose talk and disrespect for our institutions of democracy.

Mahama may be oblivious of this, but it might interest him to know that we don’t have “Rawlings judges” or “Kufuor judges”, “Mills judges” or “Akufo-Addo judges”. What we have is an extraordin­ary group of dedic­ated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appear­ing before them.

What Mahama utterly fails to grasp is that the judiciary is not a place for a fishing expedition that justice will always be done even if heaven falls.

Let Mahama get it, that if you carp incessantly about everything, you lose even more relevance than if you had focused on the real, key issues.

Ernest Owusu Bempah

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