A Question for Ghanaians: Is Falsification of a Document a Crime?

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In my wish to let Ghanaians know and understand some of the laws of the country, their application and interpretation, I have chosen to pose to the public a question on falsification.

Is falsification a criminal offence according to the statutes of Ghana? And, what is falsification, one may ask?

These questions will be answered later in the article. As I am noted for citing examples and analogies to explain most of the things I put across for public consumption to enable people understand them much better, so shall I do today.

If you are an employer and later discovers that the documents submitted to you upon which you employed Mr “A” had been falsified, what will you do? If you are a Recruitment Manager and in the course of interviewing an applicant for a declared job vacancy in your company, you find out that the applicant has falsified any of his documents, the authenticity of which documents he will be offered the job, what will you do? Will you offer, or deny, the applicant the job?

Let us say, in the questionnaire, there is a question asked about your criminal record? Have you ever committed any criminal offence for which you have been convicted by the court?

If the person answers no, but knowing very well that he had, and his criminal record check turns out that he has, will you accept his lies as though he has done no wrong to continue to offer him the job?

Again, on the application form, it is stated that only a woman must sign to certify that the form was filled out by the applicant himself with all the attached documents being genuine. However, the applicant arranges a man to sign for him, without specifying that a man did but pretends that a woman did sign it. What will you do as a Recruitment Manager when you become aware of this?

Will you trust him with the offer of the job? He has told two lies on the form. Is there any punishment for the applicant? Will his punishment not be the denying of him of the job? Will that not be the consequence to suffer for failure to disclose the true facts, or for telling lies?

Does his behaviour in respect to the documents raise any elements of falsification?

Falsification by the Cambridge dictionary is defined as “the action of changing something, such as a document, in order to deceive people”. In Ghana, like in any other country where they desire to develop, falsifying a document to obtain what does not belong to you is a crime.

In the Ghana Criminal Code 1960 (Act 29), it states in:

Section 248 – Making False Declaration, etc., for Officer or Voting.

“Whoever, in order that he may obtain or be qualified to act in any public office or to vote at any public election makes, signs, publishes, or uses any declaration, statement or oath, required by law in such case, or any certificate or testimonial as to his conduct or services, or as to any other matter which is material for the obtaining by him of such office, or for his qualification to act in such office or to vote at such election, shall, if he does so, knowing that the declaration, statement, oath, certificate, or testimonial is false in any material particular, be guilty of a misdemeanour”

Irrespective of whoever falsifies a document to obtain what he normally doesn’t qualify for, must stand to be punished. Whether the person is a politician, a civil service head, a traditional overlord or a recruit into the police or the armed forces.

If I do recollect very well, some people recruited into the Ghana police force were all sacked a few months into their training for having presented false documents for their recruitment. They were either not the persons stated in the documents or did not have the qualifications as they claimed to have. This was about two years ago.

Again, one Mr Haruna Iddrisu, probably the Minority Leader of NDC in Parliament, had his Masters degree revoked by the University of Ghana, Legon, when it was proven that he had plagiarised almost the totality of his thesis. It is acceptable to plagiarise less than 15% of one’s work with acknowledgment of the sources but not 75% and over. If you go beyond 15%, your work will be rejected. The rejection is a punishment meted to you for plagiarising. Therefore, passing any false documents, thesis or information to obtain what should normally not come to you if the documents or work submitted had been known to be false, calls for punishment.

What is plagiarism, one may ask? Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions”[citation needed] and the representation of them as one’s own original work” – Wikipedia.

Unless Ghanaians become conversant with the laws, they will be quick to react by insulting whoever publishes an article to expose say, their overly revered traditional overlords or politicians for breaching the law.

Let us all help to educate one another to facilitate our comprehension of the laws to let the country develop for the benefit of all and sundry.

Those who are thirsty for wisdom, you are invited to come and drink from the overflowing fountain of wisdom of the son of Kumawu/Asiampa.

Rockson Adofo

Saturday, 7 March 2020

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