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The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has bemoaned the discontinuation of the case involving eight persons of pro-government vigilante group Delta Force who were on trial for aiding the escape of 13 of their members from lawful custody.
On Wednesday 17 May, state attorney Marie Louise-Simmons advised prosecutors to drop charges against the accused for lack of evidence.
The eight were charged with causing disturbances in court, resisting arrest, and rescuing persons in lawful custody when they aided the escape of the 13 Delta Force members arrested for assaulting the security coordinator of the Ashanti Region.
Reacting to the development, the PPP in a statement said it was “shocked and dismayed over the Attorney General’s withdrawal of proceedings against the Delta eight”.
“We believe that the unruly behaviour of these NPP sponsored thugs calling themselves ‘Delta Force' ought not to be the reason for feigning an inability to prove guilt before a judge. We condemn in strongest terms the lawlessness going on in our country and the clear lack of enforcement of the law to deal with it,” the party said.
The PPP further stated: “Similarly, the hypocrisy and complicity of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) as an all-time key contributor and actor in the crisis on our hands cannot be ignored.
“When the former President, John Mahama, granted a pardon to the ‘Montie Three’, we [including the NPP then in opposition] rightly condemned Mahama's poor judgment. And if today, our Attorney-General, after examining the docket has concluded that there was no evidence to prosecute the eight members of Delta Force, then we are in serious trouble as a country.”
The PPP said they were struggling to understand how a state attorney could conclude on the lack of evidence when the jail break did not take place in a secluded area.
“What is the extent of the investigation the Ghana Police Service conducted? In section 1 of the Ghana Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350), it is stated: ‘It shall be the duty of the Police Service to prevent and detect crime, to apprehend offenders, and to maintain public order and the safety of persons and property.’ Does this mean that the police officers who investigated this case did not know they are to perform their functions as are by law conferred upon them?” they quizzed.
The PPP has, therefore, called on the Minister for the Interior, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Attorney General to take firm action on the officers who were in charge of the investigation.
The statement noted: “Where in the world can a vigilante group besiege a court premise and take custody of accused persons in daylight? How could the investigators claim lack of evidence to enable the Attorney-General file for a nolle prosequi? The world is not going to wait for us, so we need to get serious in this country. How can our security be guaranteed if it is the belief of the Attorney General that a bad excuse is better than none? Has it not been these same excuses, and the lack of interest from previous Attorneys General which has led to the state losing millions of Ghana cedis due to judgment debt payments? The invisible hands who are fuelling this impunity must bow down their heads in shame.
“We wish to reiterate our commitment to institute an effective criminal justice system which will be capable of investigating and adjudicating criminal offences successfully, through an impartial and non-discriminatory process, free of corruption and improper government influence. Indeed, we are not oblivious to the fact that in our criminal justice system, the government retains broad discretion as to whom to prosecute. But this does not also mean that we should allow ourselves to be haunted by the stark images of impunity and abuse of power.
“We call on the Supreme Court to act forcefully on individuals who have scandalised the court, lowered its authority, and also brought the image of the court into disrepute. We must realise that any attempt to use state power to close the eyes to indiscipline is bound to boomerang with dangerous consequences.
“You will agree with us that the time for Ghanaians to buy into the PPP’s position for the separation of the Attorney General from the Ministry of Justice is now.
“We wish to emphasise that under a PPP government, there would be two separate judiciary offices, a Chief State Prosecutor (CSP) nominated by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) on the advice of the Judicial Council, while Parliament would then approve the Minister of Justice. The Chief State Prosecutor would be responsible for the initiation and conduct of all prosecutions of all criminal offences, and we shall ensure that no one institutes any prosecutions in the name of the Republic without the authority of the Chief State Prosecutor.
“The Minister of Justice under a PPP administration shall be the Minister of State and the principal legal advisor to the government. We believe that our Minister of Justice would discharge such other duties of legal nature as might be referred or assigned to him or her by the President or imposed on that office by the constitution.
“We wish to remind Ghanaians that during the 2016 campaign, we were clear in our minds that real change would only happen if we voted for the PPP and that voting for either of the two would bring chaos. The truth is, we get what we vote for!
“The Progressive People’s Party will not condone any act of lawlessness and as a political party, we wish to state unambiguously that the posture by the NPP prosecutor calls for all to rebuke it knowing that our inability to do anything will only allow further evil to triumph.
“As Ghanaians, we credit ourselves with stability in government transition, but we must not be so cocky as to ignore the real threats in front of us. There are fissures in our system, cracks that must be addressed, leaks that must be stopped and fully repaired, or we will be surprised by a sudden flood. Let us watch, pray, and act now.”