February 26, 2019
By: Winstanley. R. Bankole. Johnson
I couldn’t help laughing out aloud whilst reading a contribution on Page 2 of the Nightwatch publication of Wednesday 20th February by a News Analyst captioned: “Gleamings From Glimpses”. The wily and rather witty contributor was referencing an article I wrote some three years ago in which I predicted we (APC) were going to beat the hell out of them (SLPP) at the last multi-tier elections as convincingly as “Gbohui” – referred to in our childhood days as “Fine Mende Kanya”. Some people can have exceptionally good retentivity!! The writer closed the piece by stating rather predictably and I quote that: “The tables have been turned over for now until they are erected again”. And I cannot agree with him more on that matter, that indeed it is only a matter of time before our APC tables will be erected again.
What amused me most about the article is that though coming from someone presumably from a different political divide it was devoid of malice, acrimony or invectives, which is precisely the manner enlightened minds concerned about the advancement of education in this country and their legacy to society should communicate. Our readership deserve to come out after perusing every literary piece much entertained and educated. The only downside about the piece is that the writer wasn’t charitable enough to have set a timeline on when precisely – or rather how soon “our APC tables will be erected again”. But I will assist him with that.
I suspect the writer is a Pastor and will therefore respectfully invite his spiritual attention to Prov.6:2 – “Thou art snared (or taken) by the words of thy mouth” and James.3:10 – “Out of his own mouth has proceeded blessings and cursing”. I seem to prefer the latter Biblical quote because the inference from the “Blessings” perspective for the APC is that indeed come 2023 “our tables will be erected again” and we shall verily; verily beat them resoundingly into the fine “Gbohui” that is now looking like a felt need. On the other hand the cursing inherent in his writings are veritable predictions that by that same date or stroke of events, “the tables of the SLPP will be overturned once more and will not be erected until year 2032. I pause for his own interpretations of both scriptural passages, in the sincere hope that he will also see the hilarity in my own interpretation as we sally forth peacefully to the polls as a cohesive nation, firmly united in diversity. Read my lips. There are challenging times ahead.
I have written amply, but certainly not exhaustively on the ongoing Commissions of Inquiries (COIs) and prior to their commencements proper have endorsed their creation and even congratulated the presiding Commissioners-Judges for their calmness. Before actual sittings commenced however, it would appear the question of, or on their Jurisdictional Competence does not seem to have been satisfactorily addressed beyond each Commissioner-Judges discretion, and I wonder what legal implications failure to have sought independent interpretations of such vexing concerns of the individual Defense Attorneys from a Superior Court (say the Supreme Court) might have on the credibility of the ultimate recommendations of the Commissioner-Judges and on the ensuing Cabinet White Papers insofar as the fundamental human rights of all affected “Interested Persons” could have been impugned.
My concern stems from a layman’s understanding of ordinary legal practices that do not appear to have been followed in the case of the COIs, that where litigants raise contentious or vexatious issues deemed to be above the remit of particular lower Courts, reliefs or clarifications are usually escalated for interpretation to Superior Courts of law. It is on that premise many believe the matter of Jurisdictional Competence as raised by defense Counsels ought to have been escalate for deliberations to the Supreme Court – an independent environment for an independent interpretation – instead of as has been adjudicated upon by the Commissioners themselves. After all who in this world would adjudge against his own personal interests, or legislate himself out of employment? How I wish I knew the Latin phrase for that. But perhaps the Registrar of the Supreme Court can throw some light on this seeming lacuna for public education.
My prognosis for the above is anchored on statements made by two of the three Commissioner-Judges (Justices Biobele George-Will and J.R Bankole Thonpson) pertaining to jurisdictional objections raised by Defense Attorneys. Before adjourning sittings for ruling the former Commissioner inferred that if on his return he rules that the Commission cannot continue as constituted, then he’ll simply fold up and return to his country. But if he decides otherwise then he will resume Tuesday 19th, Monday 18th having been declared a Public Holiday”. For his part Justice Bankole Thompson ruled that the submissions of Defense Attorneys on the same matter were meretricious, that is to say they are bland, lack merit and are only superficially significant.
As with all litigations a regular Judicial Menu must consist of at least a Two-Course meal – the “Starters” or the Court of first instance and (if need be) the “Main Course” or Superior Court. But as I see it in the instances of the ongoing COIs, Attorneys for Interested Persons were only served “Starters” and deprived of the “Main Course” by the Commissioner-Judges not first allowing the question about their Jurisdictional Competence to have been interpreted by the Supreme Court. It stands to reason further that the fact that Justice George-Will did not out rightly dismiss Counsel Addy Macauley’s submissions, but had to adjourn sittings for ultimate resolution simply means that the matter requiring resolution had merit and was above his remit.
But again the Commissioner-Judges can be excused for not referring the matter on their Jurisdictional Competence to the Supreme Court because as far as they could have been informed, simply filing a matter in any Court of Law does not automatically make it sub-judice’. For any matter to be so qualified, it must subsequent to its filing be “assigned” for hearings. And insofar as that hadn’t been done by the Hon. Chief Justice, no matter on that matter is sub-judice’. So no matter on which side of the divide one is, it stand to reason that by-:
- the Hon. Chief Justice not having promptly assigned those petitions on the “Jurisdictional Competence of the COIs for hearings at the Supreme Court
- the Commissioner-Judges not referring those same matters as raised at their respective Commissions to a superior Court for interpretation
any decision emanating from the COIs as presently constituted can be reasonably challenged.
Any layman criticizing this personal concern must be under –five (65) years of age. Those above that age might be excused from empathizing with it, having regard to the fact as with the findings of all previous Commissions of Inquiries from the Hon. Justices Percy Davies; Beoku-Betts; S.J. Foster; Beccles-Davies including the Hugh-Clarke COI (and their White Paper recommendations), fewer than ten (10) of the assets confiscated from Persons of Interests back then could still be traced to the current inventory of the National Assets Commission as Government Properties. Most were restituted back to their bona-fide owners either following fervent appeals either to the Supreme Court on some flimsy grounds of dereliction of duty on the part of the now long- deceased Commissioners, human rights abuses or directly to succeeding Heads of States. And in this day and age where International Treaties and Obligations can compel nations to abide as signed unto and domesticated, one should not rule out interested persons feeling disadvantaged from ultimately seeking redress from as far afield as the International Court of Human Rights and Justice for a final arbitration of the Jurisdictional Competence of the COIs. My interest here is to ensure that unlike previously, the outcomes of these COIs and the Cabinet White Papers arising therefrom remain unassailable. Read my lips. There are challenging times ahead.
Generally speaking listening to proceedings of the three COIs whenever one is chanced to do so has been an educational treat, until evidences began to be heard from witnesses appearing before the Hon. Justice J.R. Bankole Thompson on the procurements at the Ministry of Agriculture. “Fertilizers” – the substance used to improve soil nutrition has since become “Fartalizer??”, and quite honestly repeated miss-pronunciation of that word is taking the gloss of the proceedings. In our primary days, errors like that would have been corrected by a special assignment from our Teachers to both correctly spell and pronounce the word “FERTILIZER” one hundred times respectively in front of the entire Class, just to drum it in our brains. How I wish the learned Commissioner-Judge would replicate that so that our kids do not get it wrong right from there!!
These days to miss-spell and miss-pronounce is common. So as we read from newspapers or listen from news bulletins from the airwaves, the Adverb: “Further” is used as a Verb: “Furthered”. Turning to names of places, Ascension Town is now “Shension Town”; King Hermann is now “Ki-amman” Road; King Tom passes for “Kintom”, just like King Jimmy is now “kinjimi” .