Are we a modern nation?
Do we truly believe in our Constitution and the laws that flow from it? Are we equal before our laws?
Captain - now Major Mahama and Lance Corporal Robert Kumi-Ackah both died in the line of duty the same time. To say the least, we are treating them very differently. Do they deserve equal or similar treatment? What are the death benefits owed to the family of a soldier or policeman killed in the line of duty? In the US, these are clearly stated in the survivor's benefit guide
They include $100,000 accommodation for a year and burial cost of up to $8,000 in addition to insurance benefits that may vary. What is our equivalent of these benefits? Now, I am not suggesting that we can afford the same benefits in Ghana. I am asserting that there ought to be something guaranteed. If the two had survived and become permanently disabled, what would have been their benefits?
These are weighty questions but they are the tip of the iceberg.
About the time these gallant soldiers were dying, 67-year-old Madam Yednboka Keena was being stoned to death in Tindongo in the Upper East region of Ghana, for being a witch! Her death, which is not deemed sexy has received hardly any attention. Are all deaths not deaths? Are all citizens not citizens? Are the protections guaranteed to our citizens in Chapter 5 of our Constitution real?
Are we not obligated to protect the old and the weak equally with the young and powerful?
These inconsistencies and adhocracy have always been with us.
We give harsh sentences to fowl thieves and give a pass to judges who get sheep and money as bribes.
We give draconian sentences to cocoa smugglers and do nothing to those squandering our treasure at COCOBOD.
We react with revulsion at the murder of Major Mahama even as we celebrate those with the blood of other soldiers on their hands. On December 31, 1981, some patriots rose against 31st December and were gunned down while defending our constitution. The most famous amongst them, perhaps, was Major Akatiamah.
Has his sacrifice ever been acknowledged?Many others, like Captains Duah and Koufie were exiled and had careers destined for generalships ruined. They have never gotten justice and today, the criminals who took lives and ruined careers walk in our midst as honoured elders of our society. Some were even outraged at Captain Mahama's death.
We must reach back and give these people justice.
We must give the likes of Madam Keena justice. We must stop harassing the innocent in the death of Major Mahama. We should not follow his unjust death with unjust punishment.
And we must address the issue of death and disability benefits for our service members.
Former US Senator Hubert Humphrey was right, " A society should be judged by how it protects those in the shadows of life, the young, the sick, the elderly and the poor". Let us abandon ADHOCRACY and be a nation, truly under "Freedom and Justice " that protects the Madam Keenas and the poor fowl thieves who cannot afford lawyers while doing right by our service members.
As the wags will put it, "A nation that cannot grant equal justice to Majors Akatiamah and Mahama and the Madam Keenas of our world-- is that too a nation?"
By Arthur Kobina Kennedy