Pardoning 13 Delta Force Members is Inexcusable
Last year when the NDC affiliated Montie 3 Radio gang in a moment of utter recklessness, took swipes at the justices of the Supreme Court, and at one point threatened to do unspeakable things to them, the whole nation was in an uproar. Calls, predominately by the then opposition party, the NPP, for the Montie 3 to be disciplined, flooded the airwaves.
The three NDC motormouths were rightfully sent to Nsawam prison where they experienced despicable living conditions — crowded cells and bad food. Judging from their post-prison utterances, it was a humbling experience.
At the same time, there were also calls by NDC aficionados for the Montie 3 to be pardoned and the former president Mr. John Mahama dutifully obliged. There was anger at Mr. Mahama’s action in some circles. Some have attributed his disastrous electoral performance to this one particular move.
So, you can imagine the outrage that is currently making the rounds in the country at news that a circuit court judge in Kumasi has pardoned 13 members of Delta Force for escaping from remand.
Supporters of the notoriously belligerent political vigilante group closely allied with the ruling NPP on April 7th literally ransacked the Kumasi Municipal Assembly Circuit Court. In the ensuing chaos, the 13 members of Delta Force bolted.
Judge John Ekow Mensah who presided over the proceedings explained his action as follows: the 13 young men showed remorse and voluntarily handed turned themselves in to police. He was therefore fining them the men 200 Ghana cedis each with a bond to be of good behavior for six months or risk going to prison for three years.
The judge, according to legal experts acted within the constraints of the constitution and according to sentencing guidelines. But a pardon to a group of mischief makers gleefully acting outside the confines of our laws?
No, I don’t subscribe to this line of thinking; it is absurd and the judge’s action is inexcusable. His is a great disservice to our legal system and the Ghanaian judiciary members of which are still recovering from corruption charges.
More troubling, however, is the message Judge Mensah sent to political vigilante groups with his decision: that they can flout the law and if their party is in power, they need not worry about punishment. How unfortunate!
Nonetheless, I am consoled by President Akuffo Addo’s statement on Good Friday that he will deal sternly with vigilante groups who act outside the confines of the law. Using the medium of television, Mr. Addo was unusually forceful: “People will not act with impunity under my watch,” he said.
That, however, was not substantially reassuring. He was vague and spoke in general terms. All Ghanaians wanted to hear was: vigilante groups are henceforth banned with immediate effect. It never came. Delta Force once again has been given the green light to carry on its quixotic adventures.