Recently, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of our nation made the decision (The Analyst, December 3, 2013) and “lifted” what has come to be known as the “Gag Order”, placed by a court of law on press reporting of tape-recordings of well-placed officials of government regarding the Roberts International Airport, alleged corruption saga in which several persons have been indicted, with the principals now at-large in the USA.
Although the President prefaced the “lift announcement” with comprehensive analysis of the critical issues of law enforcement, national security and the legal maxim that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty in and only by a court of law, the statement, “accordingly, the Justice Ministry has concluded the necessary proceedings with the relevant courts to lift the order, and . . . I have directed that efforts be multiplied to bring all of the accused persons to trial”, raise ,more questions than answers. For examples:
A) Given the sermon on the sanctity and majesty of the rule of law, the public announcement of the lifting of the “gag order” by the President, but not by the Court that placed the order, implies that the courts are not independent or that the judiciary depends and is influenced by presidential, power politics.
B) On the other hand, the President’s statement that “. . . the Justice Ministry has concluded the necessary proceedings with the relevant courts to lift the order. . . I have directed that efforts be multiplied to bring all of the accused persons to trial”, also, implies that the President may not have been informed about the “whys” and “hows” of the policy issues of the order.
Now, confronted with the far-reaching, national/international, policy implications of the order and the tradition that the proverbial “bucks stop at the President’s desk”, the practical result that she rightly defined as the “tangential impact of the gag order on free society”, the President realized that “it is better late than never” such that she decided to “call the shots”, and made the announcement.
The credibility of the prosecutorial arm of the Ministry of Justice and some aspects of law interpretation, trial and decisions-making of our Judiciary have been and are deeply questioned by our friends and benefactors – the UN, USA , EU, etc. - including our citizens at home, with particular reference to public dishonesty and less than diligent effort and commitment. The Judiciary had been and is accused of political contamination and dependency.
Our attempted failure to extradite accused Liberian citizens back to Liberia to stand trial due to alleged prosecutorial and judiciary ridicule is the most recent case in point; it goes back to the episode involving former President Charles Taylor and now the celebrated case of Ellen Corkrum and associates.
Moreover, we are not persuaded by Ms. Corkrum’s arguments while hiding behind US citizenship from prosecution with the claim that “Ellen Sirleaf failed our People”; which “people, Ghanians or Americans? If she and her associates are innocent of the charges, then the best thing to do is come back “home” and stand trial.
In all of this confusion, however, we commend the President for the courage, at the very least, and the “guts” to call the shots. Indeed, it takes training, experience (varied background & exposure) and age to gain the wisdom necessary to summon the political will to make rational, informed decisions; this president has all of the above. Expressed mathematically: Successful decision-making = Training + Experience (varied background & exposure) + Age + Wisdom.
And finally, during these days of interdependence of peoples and nations, relative youthful, inexperienced, rush-to-judgment decision-making is archaic, out-dated and invalid public policy approach in rational, informed decision-making.