Lawyer begs Akufo-Addo not to sign Major Mahama Trust Fund into law

Outspoken Ghanaian professor, Stephen Kwaku Asare, is begging President Nana Akufo-Addo not to sign into law, the Major Mahama Act, a trust fund to cater for the wife and two children of the military officer who was gruesomely murdered.

As a lawyer, he said, the Act “cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny” in its current form because it is goes contrary to the principles of the supreme law of Ghana.

“…You [President Akufo-Addo] should return it to Parliament for it to be replaced by a comprehensive Bill that provides timely, predictable and easy to access benefits to the families of ALL SECURITY PERSONNEL who pay the ultimate price while serving the nation,” he advised in a Facebook post.

The bill, which was passed by Parliament last Thursday, November 8, 2017 into an Act, gave effect to the President’s pledge to establish a memorial trust fund with a GHC500,000 seed money in honour of the deceased officer. Trustees of the fund would also be expected to source for money into the fund.

A memorandum that accompanied the bill states “it has become necessary to draft this bill considering the circumstances under which the officer died while on a national duty”.

It explained the fund would cater adequately for the widow, Barbara Mahama until she remarries and also cater adequately for the children.

Per the memorandum, all money intended for the welfare and upkeep generally, and particularly the education of the children were properly administered by a Board of Trustees who had a fiduciary relationship with the beneficiaries of the fund and the country.

While the decision was highly welcomed in June this year, some people have begun criticising the government for such a fund on grounds of unfairness to families of other security personnel who died tragically in line of duty. Debating the bill before its passage, some members of parliament pushed for the bill to be broadened to cater for the families of all security officers who have perished while serving their country but that was rejected.

Discriminatory Fund

Commenting on the passage of the bill Friday, Prof. Asare advised President Akufo-Addo not to assent to the Major Mahama Trust Fund Bill because it is discriminatory and flouts the principles of generality.

He argued that it is a cardinal principle of the rule of law that laws must apply to broad categories of people and must not single out individuals or groups for special treatment.

The power of parliament to “isolate people for rewards, punishment or different treatment,” he said, is dangerous and must not be countenanced in in Ghana, stating, “We must not traverse that path”.

“Even though the Bill is well intentioned, it sets a very bad precedent; it treats equally situated persons differently; it creates bitterness for families in similar situations who are hardly recognized; and it affects the collective morale of service personnel,” he observed.

Prof. Asare has thus urged President Akufo-Addo to be firm in this matter by reiterating his commitment to the rule of law, which abhors discrimination.

Background

Major Mahama, a member of the 5th Infantry of the Ghana Armed Forces who was on official duty, was lynched at Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region on May 29, 2017 when some residents mistook for an armed robber.

A part of his body was set ablaze. His body was retrieved filled with marks of assault including multiple deep cut wounds on the head, the Police said.

His murder reignited calls for an end to instant mob justice, which was becoming rampant across the country and led to the death of a number of people. He was given a state burial on June 9, 2017 in Accra.

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