A renowned investment consultant and a founding member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP),Mr. Kwame Pianim, says his intention to overthrow the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government of Jerry Rawlings in 1982 was lawful.
He argues that the Constitution encourages every citizen to resist with arms any unelected group who attempt to usurp the Constitution, and therefore his purported move to stage a coup d’état against the PNDC should have been applauded and be rewarded rather than being incarcerated for defending the Constitution. Quoting aspects of the Constitution to back his claim, he avers that “It is also stated that if any Ghanaian in the course of defending the Constitution against usurpers suffered in any way, they were to be compensated upon the reinstatement of the Constitution.
“…We all owe allegiance only to governments established by the sovereign people of Ghana and duly elected by the sovereign people of Ghana and anybody else who takes over this country through the barrel of the gun cannot claim protection from the Constitution”, stressing that “it was a bit sad that the judiciary did not take the opportunity offered by his case to confirm what the 1992 and 1979 Constitutions encouraged Ghanaians to do under such circumstances. Mr. Pianim disclosed this during an interview with Steve Mallory, editor of the Africawatch magazine in Accra some weeks ago.
It would be recalled that Mr. Pianim was arrested and convicted in 1982 for treason and imprisoned for 10 years by the PNDC government of Jerry John Rawlings, which later metamorphosed into the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the advent of the 1992 Constitution.
According to Mr. Pianim, who until his resignation as the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Utility and Regulatory Commission in the era of the NPP, was a confidant of former President Kufuor, intimated that it was lack of adherence to the principles of the rule of law that barred him from contesting in the 1996 election as he was acquitted on the third charge of abetment of crime to overthrow the PNDC government at the time.
“It was the lack of adherence to the constitution that barred me from contesting. First of all, I was charged and convicted for an offence of preparing to overthrow the PNDC military regime. I was, however, acquitted and discharged on the third charge of abetment of crime to overthrow the government.
“…My purported crime did not take place under the 1992 Constitution. It took place before the Constitution came into effect. If the judicial had done its work properly, I would not have been banned,” Mr. Pianim bluntly stated.
Commenting on his prison life, he revealed that his ten-year spell in prison had a positive impact on both his political and private life.
To him, his ten-year incarceration as an eye opener, which made him to become committed to making sure that suspected criminals are given access to justice, irrespective of the person’s social standing or ethnic background.
“I came out of prison a better man than when I went in. I learned about how poor people end up in prison without having had the benefit of justice,” he submitted.
Against that background, Mr. Pianim affirms his resolve to provide assistance to enable poor people who are standing trial for one crime or the other have access to justice.
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