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Our Justice System is Rigged In Favor of the Rich and Politically Connected

If you have any lingering doubts about my assertion in a news commentary last week to the effect that our justice system is riddled with unfairness and bias, those should be dispelled by the shameful and embarrassing case of Charles Bissue, the former secretary to the Inter-ministerial committee on illegal mining and a former Presidential staffer accused of alleged corruption.

Mr. Bissue, if media reports are anything to go by, is now a free man, thanks in large measure to the intervention of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Ghana Police Service which inexplicably decided on its own accord that the former secretary was not guilty of the crime he was charged with.

For the sake of fairness and clarity, let’s cast our minds back to the incriminating evidence that depicted the mendacious Bissue in the very act of corruption — the video by the Anas investigative team of the secretary excitedly accepting and caressing a huge bundle of cedis. He had apparently taken the payment ostensibly to facilitate the entrance of a private company into the small-scale mining sector.

Besides the corrupt nature of the transaction, what was egregious about it was that a ban on small scale mining was in the offing; parliament was on the verge of outlawing the pseudo economic activity that has wreaked havoc on the environment.

Yet Mr. Bissue looked past the efforts of lawmakers to check the menace of small-scale mining — and still went ahead to poke his nose at our laws.

What audacity! His brazen act of corruption — naked flouting of written regulations — warranted stern punishment, if anything at all, to sound a clear, loud, and unmistakable warning to others not to engage in acts that cost the nation millions of cedis.

My observation last week was unmistaken; it was right on the money, apt, accurate and couldn’t be anymore clearer. The criminal justice system is designed to favor the wealthy and those close to the corridors of power.

The sad and painful reality is that if you are not a member of the cosmopolitan elite, don’t count on the system to protect your basic fundamental rights, when you run afoul of the law. That is a given; it is a done deal.

The CID’s action is incomprehensible. Is it in the exoneration or investigation business? I thought the CID’s role as I understand it, and as it is unambiguously outlined by our laws, is to investigate alleged criminal matters and refer evidence gathered to the court system for prosecution.

However, by this very action — declaring Bissue innocent of all charges of corruption — the CID, our nation’s vaunted investigative institution, has singularly injected itself into a domain it clearly doesn’t belong to.

Pronouncing Bissue innocent or otherwise is the exclusive preserve of the special prosecutor’s office and by extension, the court system. One thing that can be said about this latest CID’s blunder is that the department is heavily politicized. It is clearly carrying water for politicians. And that is an indictment of its operating guidelines and independence.

Let’s be clear-eyed here; our justice system is rigged; let’s stop the pretensions, the pontification, the beating of the chest and see the justice system for what it is…. patently unfair.

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