It is not easy to remove or amend a clause entrenched in a nation’s constitution. However, a well communicated and intelligently explained reasons backed by a national referendum on the subject can make the amendment or the removal possible. Many a Ghanaian is not enthused over the absolute immunity for Ghana President, well into three years of their exit from office, as it is entrenched in the Constitution.
In the Ghana 1992 Republican Constitution by which the country has been governed since it was accepted by the nation, there are some clauses that need amending, especially, the one granting absolute immunity to a sitting President from both civil and criminal suits, thus, court prosecutions, until after three years of him/her leaving office.
Regardless of any commissions or omissions by the president, whether they are criminally executed for his personal, family or political party gains or not, he is immune from any form of judicial prosecution.
Find below the immunity clauses as are enshrined in the Constitution under Article 57, Clauses or Sections 4, 5 and 6.
(4) Without prejudice to the provisions of article 2 of this Constitution, and subject to the operation of the prerogative writs, the President shall not, while in office, be liable to proceedings in any court for the performance of his functions, or for any act done or omitted to be done, or purported to be done, or purported to have been done or purporting to be done in the performance of his functions, under this Constitution or any other law.
(5) The President shall not, while in office as President, be personally liable to any civil or criminal proceedings in court.
(6) Civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person within three years after his ceasing to be President, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him in his personal capacity before or during his term of office notwithstanding any period of limitation except where the proceedings had been legally barred before he assumed the office of President.
In my candid opinion, it is absolutely wrong on the part of the framers of the Constitution to have smuggled in that absolute immunity for the president.
From which model Constitution in the world that we got that clause from? I know Ghana Constitution is a mixture of that of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and France. The framers are alleged to have studied the Constitutions of the mentioned countries and probably from a few others, to copy from them with their own modifications where needed. However, from where did they get that absolute immunity clause for the sitting president until after his three years exit from office?
It is obvious that it could have been designed at the insistence of then military junta leader, Chairman Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, turning a civilian and willing to revert the nation to a civilian rule and then contest election himself. The objective was to guarantee his safety and protection from prosecution for all the obvious illegalities he had committed against the people of Ghana. Other than that, why should a Ghana president be granted absolute immunity for all their actions, be they criminal and selfishly intended or otherwise?
Find below how the immunity for the President applies in the United States of America by which it had made it possible for some of their Presidents to be impeached and/or prosecuted.
“A. Ernest Fitzgerald filed a lawsuit against government officials claiming that he lost his position as a contractor with the United States Air Force because of testimony made before Congress in 1968. Among the people listed in the lawsuit was former President Richard Nixon. Nixon argued that a President cannot be sued for actions taken while in office. The trial and appellate court rejected the President’s claim of immunity and the case went to the Supreme Court”.
“In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the President is entitled to absolute immunity from liability for civil damages based on his official acts. The court emphasized that the President is not immune from criminal charges stemming from his official (or unofficial) acts while in office”.
To curtail corruptions, or attempts of corruption by the Presidents, both present and future, I will only appeal for its amendment by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he wins a second term of office.
As personally incorruptible as he is, not desiring to take a pesewa that does not legally belong to him from the nation’s coffers unlike some of his predecessors, he is the right leader to effect the requested amendment. Should he fail to, then the path is permanently clear and wide for Ghana Presidents to commit personal crimes with impunity.
Had it not been the entrenchment in the Constitution of the absolute immunity against prosecution for the President, the Airbus and Embraer airplanes scandals involving Ghana would not have occurred to shame and to cause financial loss to the State.
My present day Joseph or David, Nana Akufo-Addo, please cogitate about this request from the obvious son of Kumawu/ Asiampa to effect the needed amendment. Ghana Presidents must be liable for prosecution for the personal corruptions, especially embezzlement of State funds and acceptance of bribes that they indulge themselves in whether they are in office or immediately after leaving office.
Presidents had better lead by example. Their actions must be worthy of emulation but not to frowned on!