Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, lead Counsel for the National Democratic Congress in the ongoing election petition filed by three leading members of the New Patriotic Party, is certainly one of the most brilliant personalities of our generation. That is without question.
At the age of nine, he was a student of the prestigious Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast. Five years later, he was at the University of Ghana, Legon, going through the paces that would qualify him for the first degree in law.
When he graduated from the nation’s premier institute of higher learning with LLB, he was barely 18, the age when most Ghanaians were in their first or second year at the secondary school. At the University of Ghana, where he was lecturer in law until the coup of December 1981, he was adored by his students.
With Jerry John Rawlings in the saddle after the December 31 coup d’etat, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, born at Keta in the Volta Region in December 1950, became one of the advisers to the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council, and thus one of the most powerful men in this land of our birth.
On June 18, 2008, Mr. Tsikata was sentenced to a five year jail term, for willfully causing financial loss to the state. He was said to have guaranteed a loan of GH˘230,000 of state money to Valley Farms, a private venture, from funds provided by Caisse Central, now Agence Française de Development in 1993, while he was Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.
Barely five months later, Mr. Tsikata was released, pardoned by then President John Agyekum Kufuor. Last week, on the fifth anniversary of his incarceration, the former Chief Executive of GNPC celebrated his release by issuing a press statement. State-run Daily Graphic published the piece titled “Five Years On – His mercies never fail.” The article featured in almost all the newspapers, classified by Mr. Martin Amidu, former Attorney-General, as “Criminally-rented NDC press.”
Mr. Tsikata saw his release after barely five months in prison as a miracle. “Five years ago,” wrote Mr. Tsikata, “on June 18, 2008, a judge, without any advance indication that she was going to deliver judgment, pronounced a sentence of five years imprisonment on me.
“I was taken that afternoon to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison to begin serving my sentence. Within five months of that day, however, I was out of prison and alive in circumstances that were nothing short of a miracle,” he wrote.
In brief, Mr. Tsikata was telling the world that prison conditions were horrible. He suffered an asthmatic attack on the night the doors of the prison gates were shut behind him. “I could hardly breathe. In that state, it was not possible to lie to sleep. I sat on a chair by my bed breaking out into a sweat…Only the grace of God kept me through those hours of the night of Saturday, November 15.”
We thank God for the life of Mr. Tsikata. Unfortunately, not many of those brutalised by the junta he lent support to and advised, were given the opportunity Mr. Tsikata was allowed.
The trial judge might not have waited for the lead counsel before ruling on the case. But every Ghanaian knows that Mr. Tsikata was given every opportunity to prove his innocence in a case that dragged on for nearly six years in various courts.
The eight top officials executed in June 1979, when he was a leading adviser to Jerry Rawlings, were never given a day’s notice to argue their cases. When Air Vice-Marshall Joy Amedume was tied to the stakes and executed for borrowing ˘50,000 (GH˘5) nobody gave him the chance to prove that he had collateral to back his demand. He was alleged to have used his influence, and that was it.
On June 30 1982, three judges and an army officer were taken away from their places of abode, with a curfew in force, and executed at the Bundase Military Firing Range. When the disappearances were first discovered, then junta head Jerry John Rawlings, shedding the tears of a crocodile, appeared on national television and announced that the abductions were the work of the enemies of the revolution.
What is interesting is that at the time he made that declaration, Jerry Rawlings knew that three of the four murderers were residing in his own Boys Quarters at Ridge, a suburb of Accra. As the leader of the group, Sgt. Samuel Amedeka, was to state later, at the time they went round picking their victims, the murder squad knew that they were carrying out the orders of the Provisional National Defence Council, chaired by Jerry Rawlings.
Sad to state, but many Ghanaians believe that the abductions and murders were sanctioned by the leadership of the military junta. Incidentally, Mr. Tsikata was known in the Ghanaian society as the Chief Adviser to Jerry Rawlings at the time.
Jerry Rawlings and his aides could declare their innocence to the high heavens, but most Ghanaians know that the whole abduction was instigated by the leadership of the PNDC to put fear into the citizenry, at a time the very existence of the military junta was being questioned.
All the three murdered judges – Poku Sarkodie, Kwadwo Adjei Agyepong and Cecelia Koranteng Addow, were sitting on review cases brought by aggrieved persons, in respect of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, the previous military junta headed by Mr. Rawlings. For the attention of Mr. Tsikata, an adviser to the PNDC Chairman at the time, none of these victims was given a minute to plead his/her case.
I do not know who advises Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata. If I were him, I would lie low after all the atrocities he aided the PNDC to perpetrate against fellow human beings in the name of a revolution that has only replaced the rich and famous of society.
At the time he was in prison in 2008, Mr. Tsikata was supposed to have carried out a consultancy job that landed him a cool $5 million on his release, with the National Democratic Congress back in power. I am not in a position to argue about what kind of consultancy he undertook. I have a worry though. I do not believe there is any Ghanaian alive who could vouch on the number of Ghanaians sent to the so-called People’s Court, established on the advice of legal brains behind the military oligarchy, and allowed to argue their cases, as Tsikata did.
Mr. Tsikata cannot claim that he was not one of the legal brains that aided the establishment of the People’s Court. Neither is he unaware of long custodian sentences passed on people on the flimsiest of charges. Victims of the People’s Court, I dare state, never had the comfort of six years to plead their cases.
There was no proper legal defence, as Mr. Tsikata had the luxury of experiencing. In many of such cases, the victims were never given the opportunity to clear their names.
Lest I forget, even when President John Agyekum Kufuor granted a pardon to the convicted criminal, Mr. Tsikata swore to clear his name in court. Five years on, we are still waiting.
What is interesting is that the administration of John Evans Atta Mills handed over $5 million of public money to Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata on the pretext that a firm he owns -Strategic Oil and Gas Resources Company, had provided consultancy services to Mitsui Ocean Development Company Limited, the organization that won the bid for the construction of the Floating, Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Kwame Nkrumah, for the exploration of oil in the Western Region.
Critics say Mr. Tsikata might have been in prison at the time the consultancy was said to have been provided. In Parliament, Deputy Minister of Energy in the Kufuor administration, Mr. Kobina Tahir Hammond, engaged former Minister of Energy Dr. Oteng Adjei, to tell Ghanaians whether Tsatsu’s company had truly been paid that whooping amount of $5 million.
Mr. Hammond also wanted to know what kind of services Strategic and Oil Resources provided to warrant such a quantum payment from the public purse. The Minister’s response was that a private company had the right to be sub-contracted by MODEC. “The award of the contract was not illegal; payment of money would also not be illegal,” Dr. Oteng stated.
The Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa insisted on a definite answer, but the Minister remained evasive, forcing a confrontation that lasted one hour, until the Speaker intervened on the basis that the time allotted for the purpose had elapsed.
Obviously displeased by Mr. Hammond’s request, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata issued a press release the next day. “It would have been hard to fathom why a Parliamentary question would be put about legitimate contractual relations between two companies, but for the obsessive determination of people like Hon. Hammond to get Tsatsu Tsikata by hook or crook,” Mr. Tsikata stated in his release.
“Unfortunately for such people, however, the activities of Strategic Oil and Gas Resources (Stats Oil), a company of which I am a share-holder, as well as Chief Executive, will stand up to every scrutiny,” he stated.
The jury is still out on whether the $5 million payment is justified, especially, when the deal was said to have been hatched at a time the Chief Executive, and the man said to have presented the so-called consultancy, was in prison.
In a moment like this, my heart goes out to Mr. Baah Boakye, one-time official of the Foreign Service of Ghana who was transferred under a certificate of emergency to West Germany. The message out there is that his wife failed to join him. I am told that the woman involved is the same person cited in Mr. Tsikata’s testimony, as providing solace to the then prisoner in hospital.
This is a cruel world. Many had no opportunity to clear their names when they were dispatched to the next world on flimsy charges. On the other hand, those who helped to perpetuate those heinous crimes against their fellow beings, are paid huge sums for providing consultancies from locked prison cells. It all adds up to the murky world, where hard work is rather punished.
Tsikata’s five year jail anniversary message should galvanised Ghanaians to ask more questions about a revolution that rewarded rhetoric against hard work. I shall return!
Source: Ebo Quansah/The Chronicle
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