The Akufo-Addo government is crushing every dissenting opinion about its governance style, whether it addresses the needs and aspirations of Ghanaians or not.
Journalists, civil society operatives, military officers, police personnel and lawyers have in recent times been at the receiving end of the government for speaking about national issues including corruption.
This has seen the likes of Captain Smart of the Media General, Bobie Ansah of Class FM, Mensah Thomson of ASEPA arrested, FixTheCountry Movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor on prosecution, Lawyer Xavier Sosu, dragged before the General Legal Council for complaining about the judiciary.
The latest to fall victim to government’s heavy-handedness is a member of the academia; the Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law, Prof. Raymond Atuguba, whom the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi-Asokwa in the Ashanti Region, is asking the police to summon him for suggesting that a coup d’etat may be rife in Ghana.
Kobina Tahir (KT) Hammond, told journalists in Parliament, “I will be surprised if they have not already invited him.”
Prof. Atuguba, had suggested at a forum organised by Solidare Ghana on Tuesday that the country’s worsening economic situation, will serve as a futile ground for a coup.
Expressing concern about Ghana’s current socio-economic conditions, the respected lawyer and former Executive Secretary of John Mahama said “there is one thing to do now, prevent coup in Ghana since the climate and the environment, national and immediate international, are conducive for one. We must compel the government to acknowledge the current economic mess, they mostly, and previous governments, to a larger extent.”
According to him, the country is broke to the extent that the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has warned that the government may not be able to pay salaries, if something is not done in the next three months.
He said his assessment that Ghana may be rife for a coup, partly springs from the knowledge he gained from accompanying a friend who worked on a thesis titled: “Why certain coups succeed and why others fail’ with Ghana as a case study.”
Professor Atuguba, had earlier on narrated how his family survived the 1979 coup back in the northern part of the country.
“Others were not that lucky. Many Ghanaians who were not able to beat the system like the way my mother did or successfully fight the system like my father did, were mistreated, beaten…even killed.
“We do not want a coup in this country, yet I fear that if we do not act quickly, we may have one on our hands very soon. A former colleague doctoral Ph.D. student wrote his dissertation also on Ghana.
“He now teaches at a War College in the US. While my topic was on the Ghana Police, his topic was on the Ghana military.
“Naturally, our paths intersected and we have remained friends since. My friend’s Ph.D. thesis was on the topic ‘Why certain coups succeed and why others fail’. His case study was Ghana.
“My current assessment that Ghana may be rife for a coup partly springs from the knowledge I gained from accompanying my friend through part of his doctoral research on this topic.
“It does not help matters when we consider Samuel Huntington’s thesis on the snowballing effect of coups in the sub–region and the closeness of recent coups to home. A big part of why certain coups succeed and others fail is the economy. What is the state of Ghana’s economy today?
“At the level of the most irreducible idiomaticity, Ghana is broke. Your nation is radically broke. So broke the Speaker of Parliament has publicly warned, gavel in hand, that we may not be able to pay salaries of public sector workers in some three months unless a miracle happens,” he said.
“Ghana’s economic problems started before Covid-19. On balance, Covid-19 was a good thing for Africa and Ghana.” he said at the forum.
Following his lecture, a number of government officials and New Patriotic Party (NPP) members have called him out, describing his comments as those that can incite people to embrace coup d’états.
This comes as the convener of the #FixTheCountry Movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, is facing treason felony charges for making comments on social media that suggested a coup threat when he was criticising the e-levy.
TK Hammond, said Prof. Atuguba, should have known better and described the law lecturer’s comments as “clear foolishness.”
“He is a professor and of no other thing than of law. He understands the Constitution,” he added.
Mr Hammond, also believes such comments are only coming from people aligned with the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“The NPP was not entirely happy about everything that the NDC regime did. Nobody called for a coup.”
“Why is it that in the course of the NPP administration, at every opportunity that they get, the irresponsible ones are calling for the intervention of the military,” Mr Hammond fumed.
“The NDC; those irresponsible ones among us, should be very careful. Calling for coups today or coups tomorrow, does not inure to anybody’s interest or anybody’s benefit.”
Responding to him at a press conference in Parliament on Wednesday March 2, KT Hammond said “Why is it that in the course of NPP administration every opportunity that the NDC get, not all of them to be fair, but the irresponsible ones are calling for intervention of the military?
“What is it about the Military?
“Let me tell Professor Atuguba that he doesn’t have the liberty to take leave of his brain, he does not have the liberty to take even half of his brain.
“He owes it to his students and he owes it to the Constitution that everybody, including him has no reason to say the kind of things he has said. He is a Professor and of no other thing but of law, he understands the Constitution.
“This is the Constitution that has made it very clear, anybody who attempts to subvert it commits the offence that he knows, he goes to make a statement like this.”
He added “The Military knows what they are up to, they are a professional institution, their responsibility is to guide the territorial integrity of this country, period, they know it, they are not interested in dabbling in politics.
The group before them had dabbled in politics and we are all witnesses to these happenings. They are not interested, the officers are professionals, the rank and file, they are professionals they know their duties. It is not the likes of Atuguba to invite them to hold the country to ransom.
“Clearly, he is NDC sympathizer and indeed, I do know that at a point in time he worked with the office of the president, he is an NDC sympathizer, but no problem with that but the Constitution allows for the people of Ghana to speak at periodic times.
“The last one was 2020, we had the election, four more years, we have spent almost one and a half years thereafter, we will go for election.
“If the people do not like the NPP administration because they feel that we messed up it is for the people of the country to pass their judgement, it is not for the person who thinks he knows the law and who thinks he has studied the law to go about and brandishing foolishness like that.
“I will be surprised if they have not already invited him. Clear foolishness.”
Another MP, Dr Kingsley Nyarko of the Kwadaso Constituency in the Ashanti Region, has also reacted to comments by Prof. Atuguba about threatening conditions in Ghana that have the possibility of encouraging coup d’états.
According to him, it cannot be entirely true that military takeovers are predominantly premised on economic hardships in a country.
He explained that there are many other revealing conditions for coup d’états and as such, the impression that has been created is misleading.
Speaking on Good Morning Ghana on Metro TV yesterday, the MP, said that while he knows that the law professor means well for the country, his attempt to make it look like there is a constitutional rationale behind his thinking is wrong.
“I know that he’s a nationalist, he means well for this country and he wants this country to make progress. We all have genuine concerns; legitimate concerns about how things should be done and probably done differently, so nobody can contest that.
“I’ve been going through the Constitution, there’s nowhere that the prescription for change of government is premised on military takeovers. There is nowhere in the Constitution that says that when economic prospects are not doing well, there should be a coup d’état – it is not in there.
On the contrary, the Constitution enjoins us, in Article 3, that all of us owe it a duty to ensure that the Constitution is safeguarded and even when the military takes over, anybody who tries to restore democratic dispensation, has to go scot-free in terms of no punitive measures against that person,” he said.
Dr Kingsley Nyarko, further challenged the impression of Prof. Raymond Atuguba to the effect that economic conditions add up to some of the biggest reasons for military takeovers in any country.
He said that on the contrary, self-interests contribute most to such political downturns. “Lawyers are the persons who should, at all material times, ensure that the Constitution, or the democratic dispensation is held in its sanctity. Before you can say that a particular variable leads to a certain variable outcome, then you should have been able to control all confounding or most of the confounding variables.
“When Raymond said that research shows that economic conditions are the main trigger of coup d’états, I disagree with him and that is not factual. We know that when it comes to military takeovers, there are myriad of factors, but you realize that even though some of them mention economic conditions, they’re largely born out of self-interest as well,” he said.
But, Joyce Bawa Mogtari, a Special Aide to ex-President John Dramani Mahama, has backed Prof. Atuguba’s comments to the effect that current conditions in Ghana are ripe for a coup d’etat, saying “he spoke in context”.
She indicated that if the authorities disagree with the law professor, “let them mount a robust platform and debate the issues he has raised”.
The former Deputy Transport Minister was speaking on TV3‘s New Day yesterday in reaction to the Adansi-Asokwa MPs insults on Prof Atuguba’s comments.
Ms Mogtari, insisted that Prof Atuguba spoke truth to power, because all the promises made by the current administration while in opposition have fallen flat.
“We have serious deep cracks in our system,” she said, citing how the promises of $1 million for each constituency, 1 factory in each district and solving the power situation have failed.
“The reality is that everything they spoke about has exposed them.”
She said the likes of Prof Atuguba are what Ghanaians need at this time, adding “we must start as Ghanaians to look for courageous leaders.”
A civil society activist who is the chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil Gas, Dr Steve Manteaw, has said that one of the causes of coups in most countries is the absence of an alternative to the governing party.
He explained that the people must have no other opportunity for changing the government before they will think of taking the law into their own hands. But, he said, that is not the case in Ghana.
But in a Facebook post, Dr Manteaw, said “Professor Atuguba was candid and brutally frank. No malice. However, he omitted one precondition for coups i.e. the people must have no other opportunity for changing the gov’t, which is not the case in Ghana.”