President Akufo-Addo has been petitioned by the Economic Fighters League (EFL) over the detention of military officer Lance Corporal Lincoln Isaac Wassah who spoke against Parliament's plans to construct a new chamber.
It will be recalled that Lance Corporal Wassah made a video where he called on President Akufo-Addo not to buy into the idea of Parliament constructing a new chamber.
Lance Corporal Wassah was stripped of his rank and also sentenced to 90 days imprisonment with hard labour at the guardroom.
The group believes that Lance Corporal Wassah’s social media appeal to him, not to assent to Parliament’s proposed new chamber was a demonstration of being a citizen, not a spectator in national issues.
“He echoed the same sentiments that were being shared by the masses...Lance Corporal Wassa demonstrated bravery in speaking out for his country when it was clear that well-meaning people could not keep quiet,” EFL argued in a press release.
“His action was seen by some as indicative of indiscipline among young soldiers. Rather he demonstrated discipline by not using his gun to cause mayhem but by choosing to speak out,” the group said.
They want the president to “use the power granted you by the people to pardon Lance Corporal Wassa. We further pray that you and the powers that be look to the roots and not the leaves of the withering tree.”
Below is their petition
Petition to President to exercise the prerogative of mercy for Lance Cpl Isaac Wassa
1. We, the Economic Fighters League, wish to petition your high office to request for the exercise of the prerogative of mercy in respect of Lance Corporal Wassa who is being held in Recce Guardroom at Burma Camp for adding his voice to a campaign to save the nation 200 million dollars. We make this appeal based on Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution, which provides as follows;
(1) The President may, acting in consultation with the Council of State -
(a) grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions; or
(b) grant to a person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him for an offence; or
(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for a punishment imposed on a person for an offence; or
(d) remit the whole or part of a punishment imposed on a person or of a penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Government on account on any offence.
(2) Where a person is sentenced to death for an offence, a written report of the case from the trial judge or judges, together with such other information derived from the record of the case or elsewhere as may be necessary, shall be submitted to the President.
(3) For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that a reference in this article to a conviction or the imposition of a punishment, penalty, sentence or forfeiture includes a conviction or the imposition of a punishment, penalty, sentence or forfeiture by a court-martial or other military tribunal.
2. On 2nd July 2019, Parliament unveiled the design of a proposed new Parliamentary Chamber Complex to be built at an estimated cost of between $150 million and $200 million according to the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu
3. Almost immediately after the announcement, there was an outpouring of opposition by the good citizens of Ghana. Ghanaians believed that at this critical juncture in the life of our nation where many economic and infrastructural needs demand the attention of leadership, the money could be put to proper use.
4. A social media campaign was launched dubbed #DropThatChamber. At the height of the campaign, Your Excellency, members of the Economic Fighters League stormed Parliament to remind our representatives of their sacred duty to listen to the voice of the people. You would have heard in the news that our Leader, CiC Ernesto Yeboah was arrested along with Fighters Abeku Adams and Arimiyawu Wusama. It was a demonstration of the willingness of the youth to sacrifice personal freedom to save the nation $200 million that could be put to more fruitful purposes.
5. In a move that demonstrated the widespread nature of the angst against the building of the proposed chamber, a soldier named Lance Corporal Wassa appeared in a video throwing his support behind the #DropThatChamber campaign. He echoed the same sentiments that were being shared by the masses. “There are still school children who learn under trees. There are still school buildings who (sic) don’t have furniture in them. There are still rural areas, villages who don’t have clinics. There are still towns who (sic) don’t have potable water”, he said. He then appealed to Your Excellency not to support the proposal. “Your Excellency, Nana Addo, I know you won’t support this and I don’t expect you to support this”, he appealed.
6. The campaign succeeded and the chamber project was suspended. You are on record expressing your happiness about the suspension.
7. The said soldier was then summoned by his superiors and sanctioned. Information gathered indicates that he has been detained in the guardroom and is to spend 90 days in detention.
8. Mr President, Lance Corporal Wassa demonstrated bravery in speaking out for his country when it was clear that well-meaning people could not keep quiet. You will remember that in your inaugural speech as President of the country, you charged all Ghanaians to be citizens and not spectators. Unless this charge excluded officers in uniform, it is our position that the young soldier was being a citizen.
9. Mr President, you should be worried that a soldier in uniform will have the need to voice out the way Lance Corporal Wassa did. When we see a pregnant goat for sale in the market, then we should know there are pregnant issues back home. His action was seen by some as indicative of indiscipline among young soldiers. Rather he demonstrated discipline by not using his gun to cause mayhem but by choosing to speak out.
You should, however, be worried that for decades now there is a system in place where discipline has come to mean being a spectator of unaccountability, of lack of freedom, of lack of social justice; a system where the economy serves the luxuries of a few rather than the necessities of all; a system where justice is only for those who can afford; a system where the gap between the poor and the rich keeps rising; a system, which keeps leaders out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve. It is a cause and effect issue and the young soldier’s act is just the effect of a much deeper cause. In fact, our visit to the Burma Camp revealed deeply held grievances of some young soldiers even concerning their living conditions. A wise man looks at where he tripped not where he fell.
10. Mr President, young people in this country have deep-seated grievances. The truth is that your generation, the generation of our (the youth) fathers, has failed to translate the political freedom won for us by your father’s generation into economic freedom. It seems things keep getting worse no matter which political party is in government. Surely, democracy must mean more than just voting and the opportunity to rant.
Mr President, official statistics show that 9.2 million Ghanaians cannot afford GHC5 a day. This includes millions of youth who the promise of economic freedom and justice is fast eluding. Citizens must always strive to prove that they are worthy of the citizenship of their nation. In the case of Ghana, the State is on trial to prove that it is worthy of the citizenship of her citizens, especially the youth.
11. We hereby pray you to use the power granted you by the people to pardon Lance Corporal Wassa. We further pray that you and the powers that be look to the roots and not the leaves of the withering tree.