UK Visas, Dr. Ahenkora And Awuku's Great Escape

Everyone in town and right across the nation is seething with anger, Jomo. What about? The fact of the United Kingdom having slapped a 3,000 British pounds visa bond on visitors from five countries including Ghana. You overstay your visitor’s visa, you lose the cash. What do you do when someone does something darned smart that somehow hurts your interest? Get angry or even or both, what else? Wrong approach, old chap. The prudent thing to do would be to tear a few pages from the smart fellow’s cookbook of smart thinking and see if you could steal some of his ideas to promote YOUR interest and if in the process, HIS interest is hurt, who would care two-and-a-half hoots? That is why the imp in my skull kept sniggering as some MPs kept hollering on and on in Parliament this week, calling on the government to respond to the UK’s new immigration policy by introducing immigration laws that would hurt the interests of visitors and immigrants from the UK. To begin with, it is a fact that many visitors to the UK from some countries are notorious for overstaying their visas or taking up illegal residence. Then too, you cannot blame countries in the West for being scared stiff of the constant threat of terrorist activities within their borders. It is the lumping of Ghana together with Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh as “high risk countries” that is rather curious. It is unclear whether “high risk” here is in reference to countries considered potential exporters of terrorism or merely immigration language referring to countries whose citizens make the larger population of illegal immigrants in the UK. Otherwise, the fact that Ghana has flung her borders as wide open as the gates of hell, does not mean the British should do the same. So wide open are the country’s territorial borders and so lax her immigration laws, that from huge plane loads of Chinese immigrants in search of gold through cross border cattle rustlers and armed bandits to international fraudsters and swindlers, every scoundrel on the planet is trooping in here. So? Solateedoe, we tighten our own immigration laws in response to new challenges posed by international travel and cross-border human movement and not because the British are getting immigration-smart, yah? The Supreme Court’s hearing of the 2012 presidential election dispute that threatens to outlast Time? You probably recall my statement in this column weeks ago, that the justices of the Supreme Court hearing the dispute had in view of the politically very sensitive nature of the case, exercised great restraint in the matter of journalists, political activists and commentators on radio taking such great liberties with the court, with their public commentary on the evidence before the court. I knew something had to eventually give and it did with the warning by presiding judge Justice William Atuguba last week that the court had had enough and would sanction such conduct in future. NPP Deputy Communications Director, Sam Awuku, responded to Justice Atuguba’s warning with a description of the warning as hypocritical and selective. When the court which had been on a two-day recess resumed sitting on Wednesday, Awuku who learnt that Atuguba was belching flame and gunning for his {Awuku’s} skull, appeared before the justices to render an apology, which apology counsel for the petitioners and respondents pleaded with the court to accept since Awuku had shown remorse. A lesson well learnt by all concerned? You can only hope so. This is what I wrote not long ago about such matters: My dictionary says contempt means to hold something in scorn or very low esteem but a friend who is a judge assures me with a malicious grin, that as surely as the sun rises and sets, he would slap a contempt charge on me if I ever commented prejudicially on a landmark criminal trial before his court. He was emphatic that any action that interferes with the course of justice would amount to contempt and a virtual attack on the status and dignity of his almighty court, something that could dangerously undermine the administration of justice. Most judicial jurisdictions around the world, he told me, take contempt very seriously, and have been granted great powers by the constitution to deal with offenders. Are the courts enemies of freedom of expression then? Has the constitution made earthly gods of judges? No, said my friend. Judges do not consider themselves to be special but the courts need to protect their dignity and integrity and those of judges, as representatives of the Law, which is sacred. The energy crisis? It is far from over and this week, the Executive Director of the National Energy Commission Dr. Alfred Fosu-Ahenkora left us gaping in disbelief with the revelation that under legislation-backed regulations which no one ever knew existed, no consumer is to be cut off from electricity supply for more than four hours in a month. That works up to no more than 48 hours of permitted outages a year but some consumers are cut off supply for more than half a month! He told us that under regulations prescribed under metropolitan energy supply legislative instruments, any consumer in the country’s metropolises who is cut off for more than 48 hours in a year is entitled to some compensation except in cases where the power cuts were a result of scheduled equipment maintenance or accidents. To say this is all very bizarre is to understate the issue. Why has no one told us this all along? It is uncertain if it is the energy chief or the reporter who wrote the news who is responsible for the annoying omission but we were not told what form the compensation should take. A cash payment? A donation of ceiling lamps? A free supply of electricity? Talk about a big, fat joke.