Education on the constitution: Article 233 of the Constitution and Section 2 of Act 452 of 1993 mandate the NCCE to create and sustain within the society the awareness of the principles and objectives of the Constitution as the fundamental law of the people of Ghana; and to inculcate in the citizens of Ghana awareness of their civic responsibilities and an appreciation of their rights and obligations as free people.
The Constitution defines the structure, functions and the behaviours of all actors in corporate Ghana. It is important for every person living in Ghana to understand and be knowledgeable about the provisions in the Constitution for political stability and development.
The Preamble to the 1992 Constitution of Ghana can be construed in three main areas: Enacting statements, Expression of Hope and Aspirations, and Guiding Principles/Philosophy
Enacting Statements –In this, there are two enacting statements: “We, the people of Ghana …” and “Do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution”. By these two enacting statements, the people of Ghana have declared that they, as individuals and a corporate body in Ghana willingly made or created the 1992 Constitution for themselves and have agreed to abide by all the provisions of the Constitution. By implication, the 1992 Constitution must be seen by everybody as the expression of the sovereign will of the people of Ghana both as individuals and as a corporate Ghana.
Expression of Hope and Aspirations -In the Preamble, the people of Ghana express their desire for realizing the liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity for all and for future generations. Liberty refers to the freedoms that all the citizenry of Ghana must enjoy such as liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship through the Fundamental Human Rights. Equality means that; every citizen and segment of the Ghanaian society would enjoy adequate socio-cultural, economic and political opportunities for growth and development without any discrimination. Every citizen, both current and future generations, would have an equitable share in the resources of the State. No citizen or segment of the Ghanaian society would enjoy special privileges.
Guiding Principles/Philosophy -In the Preamble, the people of Ghana both declared and affirmed their commitment to the following principles; Freedom, justice, probity and accountability. All powers of government derive from the sovereign will of the people, Universal adult suffrage, the Rule of Law, the protection and preservation of Fundamental Human Rights as well as the freedoms, unity and stability of Ghana.
Article 1 (clause 1-3) states that all other laws are subject to the supremacy of the Constitution so that any law found to be inconsistent with any of its provisions is declared void and any action that seeks to violently or unlawfully overthrow, suspend or abrogate the Constitution is regarded as treasonable offence. All Citizens have the absolute power to defend the constitution from any abuse or violation as well as to restore it after it has been suspended, overthrown and abrogated.
Mob injustice or instant injustice is unacceptable, unconstitutional and a violation of the Constitution. Mob injustice or instant injustice may refer to the situation when annoyed or angry group takes the law into their own hands to deal with suspected criminals which lead to loss of lives.
Article 13 of the constitution guarantees the right to life. Clause 1 provides that: “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted.” It is only the court that has the power to order that the life of a person convicted of a criminal offence punishable by death should be taken. Article 15 (1) provides that “The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable.” Clause 2 states that “No person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his dignity and worth as a human being.” It is only convicted persons who may lawfully be executed or subjected to torture.
Article 15 (3) of the Constitution provides that: “A person who has not been convicted of a criminal offence shall not be treated as a convicted person and shall be kept separately from convicted persons.” Article 19 (2) (c) provides that: a person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty. The right to fair trial is also guaranteed and persons charged with criminal offence are to be given a fair hearing. Rules of natural justice require that whenever a person is arrested, there must be due inquiry. The accused person must have notice of what he is accused of. He must have an opportunity of being heard, and the decision must be honestly arrived at after he had a full opportunity of being heard.
Instant injustice is also recognised as a criminal offence under the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29). Harm caused in mob injustice is unlawful, the act may qualify as murder under section 46 of Act 29 where it leads to death, or where death does not occur, the mob action may constitute criminal assault and battery under sections 84 and 86 or causing unlawful harm under sections 69 and 76 of Act 29.
EFFECTS OF MOB INJUSTICE
The widespread of mob injustice in communities, town, and cities tends to create political instability and insecurity in the country, which in the long round scares away potential investors, and tourist. It is an indictment on the Ghanaian society that can lead to unemployment or no jobs. Mob injustice portrays the country as having little or no respect for the rule of law and human rights. A lot of innocent lives are lost, denying the nation their enormous contribution. It amounts to blatant culture of disrespect for the justice system. It has the tendency of destroying relevant evidence or information, which could have been used to abate or stop future crime. eg when a suspected criminal is lynched and burnt, there could not be proper preservation of evidence, which could have been used to prosecute the abettors of the said crime.
Mob injustice has never solved any problem anywhere since time immemorial but only compounds and creates worst wrongs than those they purport to remedy and wrong actions always produce wrong results. We should not use illegality to solve illegality.
Causes of Mob or Instant Injustice
The excessive delay in disposal of simple criminal cases in courts and police gives rise to mob injustice. eg. Simple cases lasting for so many years in Courts. The unwillingness of people to act as witnesses in criminal cases also accounts for the delay in justice delivery.
The perceived public dissatisfaction with the system of criminal punishment. Though the limits and extent of punishments for offences are statutorily prescribed and defined, they are very largely subject to the discretion of the courts. eg when judges exercise their discretion to impose minimal sentences in hideous/ horrible offences, people become dissatisfied and shocked.
Corruption in Ghana is another major contributory factor to mob injustice. Bribery, corruption, and the unprofessional conduct of some law enforcement agencies coupled with ineffective investigation of criminal cases excite mob injustice. There is little confidence and trust in the performance of some of the security agencies. eg a suspected criminals handed over to the security agency only for them to be released without trial on the basis of lack of evidence.
THE WAY FORWARD
Article 17 (1) provides that: All persons shall be equal before the law. Clause 2: A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status. Clause 3 says that: Discrimination means giving different treatment to different persons.
Mob actions should be condemned in no uncertain terms by all and sundry. The untenable actions and in actions of some security and law enforcement agencies in delaying cases unduly must desist from such acts and if possibly, they should be severely sanctioned. The recalcitrant should be made to swim in the perpetual wrath of the law. Let us allow the rule of law to function and develop.
Akolgo A. Samuel (SCEO)
Upper East Region