Samson Lardy Anyenini is Host of Newsfile

Lawyer and host of Joy News’ Newsfile programme, Samson Lardy Anyenini, has called for the withdrawal of certain special powers given to the president under section 100 of the Executive Instrument (E.I).

Per section 100 of the E.I, the president could assume direct control of the telcos and determine their operations, a power which the private legal practitioner says is unconstitutional and illegal.

In his take on Newsfile Saturday, April 4, Mr. Anyenini stated that such powers may only be assumed in a state of emergency or in warfare as, against battling a pandemic.

According to him, “this is clearly intended to get all the government could not in normal times get from telcos including through Kelni GVG which did not get the support of the Central bank.”

Read Samson’s take below:

By section 99, if there was war or the President had declared a state of emergency, as would be supervised by parliament, then he could “assume direct control” of the telcos and determine their operations.

A section 100 E.I cannot do a section 99 warfare or state of emergency operation of the telcos, so this is clearly an unconstitutional and illegal act that must be stopped immediately! This is clearly intended to get all the government could not in normal times get from telcos including through KelniGVG which did not get the support of the central bank.

The Supreme Court, speaking through one of its best minds, Justice Francis Kpegah in the landmark case AWUNI vrs. WAEC in 2004 cautioned that “[a] nation that stands by and looks on while the rights of the individual are slowly pecked at, eventually pays the ultimate price of finding its own rights eroded.

Often times, the concept of “public interest” and “national security” have been used to undermine and subvert individual freedoms. These are words which are not infrequently on the lips of potential dictators and often used as convenient excuses for the violation of individual rights. We may accept some limitation on the fundamental rights of the individual only if it is justified and proportionate.”

Watch! There is no timeline to this E.I. so the government, the state is under no obligation to stop using this president-only-made law to do what it seeks. If I understand the technical details correctly, it would seem it could be used including potentially for some checking on political opponents, and that’s what the NPP in opposition feared most in kicking against the “Spy Bill”.

May President Akufo Addo, a man with known democratic credentials not be added to the list of autocrats in democracies exploiting the coronavirus pandemic for selfish private ends.

Meantime, stop circulating false or misleading information because by section 76 of the electronic coms law, you face a fine of up to GHC 36,000 or up to five years in jail for such act with the potential to impede the fight against the virus pandemic.

By section 208 of our criminal code, you also face up to three years in jail if you don’t verify and spread a false statement, rumour or report that can cause fear and panic.