Former President Jerry John Rawlings has stated that the recent catalogue of allegations against him that have resurfaced in the media are a calculated effort by certain vested interests who feel intimidated and threatened by his level of integrity.
He said at 71 he has held onto his integrity for so long, is proud of it, and it is too late for him to compromise on what has brought him this far. It’s not for sale, he stated.
Flt Lt Rawlings expressed concern, however, that the attacks on him are rather an attack on the sense of purpose of the youth.
“I am not the one they are really after. You are the ones they are after. To break that tenacity, that belief in you,” he told a charged atmosphere at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi on Saturday.
Delivering the keynote address at the 2018 KNUST SRC organized TEKTALK event, the former President said:
“When you maintain the solidity of your position and refuse to compromise, they naturally have a problem because you may have become so influential.
“The power of the influence that you wield I think threatens some people so that if they cannot buy you, if they cannot get you to compromise your position, you need to be destroyed, otherwise your word tomorrow could do damage to them, and move them out of office,” he said.
The former President responded to allegations by a so-called former bodyguard of his, stating that he was not his bodyguard but the driver of one of the armoured tanks captured during the 31st December 1981 uprising.
“We won that battle that day, but he became overexcited, took a tank and drove into some people, so I distanced myself from him. After that he became prey to some of the dissident elements.”
He said it was unfortunate that he is brought onto television to spew so much untruth and dared people of his ilk to do a polygraph test, enforcing the charge of how far vested interests would go to protect an agenda.
Former President Rawlings also referred to another who hid in his girlfriend’s room on June 4 1979 but has subsequently been put out as a hero of the uprising for 37 years. He said our children are reading about some of these falsehoods in history books and the time had come for some of these people to be exposed through the lie-dictator test.
The leader of the June 4 uprising and the 31st December Revolution, said during the 3rd Republic he was caricatured as a weed smoking young man to the extent that by 31st December 1981 many young people had taken up weed smoking because their hero purportedly smoked weed.
“I had to move from school to school to explain it was negative propaganda. That is the extent to which some people in their quest to consolidate their power will go. They did not care that they were destroying the kids in their quest to destroy Rawlings.”
The former President urged students to be politically potent and ask serious questions of national political leaders and query them when they fail to make their voices heard on issues of global inequality and abuse of the vulnerable as is happening in Palestine and Yemen.
The Founder of the National Democratic Congress also spoke about the damage of global warming and the need for young people to educate themselves adequately on its effects, stating it was necessary to re-cultivate the habit of tree planting to help ease the scourge of global warming.
Other speakers at the event where former Minister and Member of Parliament, Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor and popular newscaster and television presenter, Nana Aba Anamoah.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is advocating for alternative sentencing for persons who commit minor or petty offenses.
Mr. Richard Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, said the two main causes of overcrowding in the nation’s prisons were the excessive use of pre-trial detention and the incarceration of offenders for minor, non-violent offenses.
“More and more offenses are being criminalized, and prison sentences are increasing on account of ‘tough on crime’ approaches,” Mr. Quayson said at a Multi-Stakeholder Conference on the Non-Custodial Sentencing Policy Zero Draft Bill, in Accra.
The workshop, on the theme: “Consolidating Efforts to Enrich the Zero Draft Non-Custodial Sentencing,” was organized by the POS Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the Judicial Service of Ghana.
Non-Custodial Sentence or Alternative Sentence refers to a punishment given by a court of law that does not involve a prison term.
Non-Custodial Sentence has various forms such as community service order, probation order, supervision order (parole), drug testing and treatment order.
Mr. Quayson said available statistics show that prison populations were growing globally; stating that between 2008 and 2011, prison populations increased by 78 percent.
He said out of the 203 jurisdictions data collected by Penal Reform International collected in January 2015, 112 had a rate of prison occupancy above 100 percent.
“Yet, countries with high rates of imprisonment do not necessarily also have high crime rates,” he added.
“Rather, experience has shown that a fall in crime can be achieved at the same time as a reduction in the prison population,” he added.
He said the discourse on non-custodial sanctions–such as community service, restorative justice, warnings, fines, compensation orders or house arrest in Ghana, takes its inspiration from the findings of CHRAJ on its monitoring of prisons and prison cells, which commenced in 1995.
He said the Commission by these findings, had consistently advocated alternative sentencing for persons who commit minor or petty offenses.
“The Commission’s reports have over the years buttressed the need for a non-custodial sentencing regime, particularly for detainees in vulnerable situations such as young persons, the elderly, chronically ill, pregnant and nursing mothers and persons living with a severe disability,” he said.
Mr. Quayson maintained that while it was the case today that the situation had marginally improved in the nation’s prisons because of other interventions including the Justice for All programme, it was also true that substantively, the situation had not changed much.
He said the subject of non-custodial sentencing was, therefore, one of the continuing interest to the Commission and the nation.
Mr. Quayson said two decades of discussions and consultations on non-custodial sentencing should culminate in some concrete actions or steps, and this might be the best time to take those steps.
The Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo lauded the POS Foundation for picking up the daunting challenge of producing a Non-Custodial Sentencing Draft Bill.
She said the Foundation came out with the Draft Bill after she had tasked them to do their advocacy on the issue of prison decongestion from the convict and legislative point of view.
“I believe this was a necessary next-step, advancing on the existing ‘Justice for All Programme,’ which has helped to reduce the remand population from 33 percent in 2007 to 12 percent by 2017.”
Mr. Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior, in a speech read on his behalf said, as at October 10, there were a total of 15,094 prisoners held in custody against a total capacity of 9,875, with a corresponding general overcrowding rate of 52.9 percent.
He said the passage of the Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill into law, would help decongest the nation’s prisons; and also help reduce the high cost of feeding inmates.
Madam Tove Degnbol, the Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana, said the Zero Draft Bill represented a milestone for Ghana’s commitment to promoting access to justice for all, including vulnerable populations.
“The non-custodial sentencing bill, when passed into law, will affirm Ghana’s quest for the protection of citizen’s rights in accordance with international norms and standards,” she said.
Mr. Jonathan Osei-Owusu, Founding Executive Director, POS Foundation, said the Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill, 2018, deals with the other sentencing powers to provide for the rehabilitation of offenders as we as related matters.
He said the Bill, which had been submitted to the Chief Justice for review, had subsequently be forwarded to the Attorney-General/Ministry of Justice and finally to the Ministry of the Interior.
A new line of underwear that stops your farts smelling has been released.
British company named Shreddies launched a flatulence-filtering line of discreet pants and clothes that are available in black and grey and can be used in the car, office or at home.
Shreddies inventor Paul O’ Leary said: ”Helping customers with the embarrassing side effects of these illnesses is Shreddies’ main goal and we hope to continue creating innovative products. This new cushion is a belt and braces approach to flatulence filtration.”
Paul manufactures all his Shreddies products in his Leicestershire home at Cotes Mill and now distributes to more than 20 countries.
The underwear and cushion, which costs £28, contains a hidden lining of carbon and claims to filter out any embarrassing odours.
Due to the underwear’s increasing success, Paul has gone on to develop pyjamas and jeans with the same odour-fighting technology.
Former President John Dramani Mahama, has taken a swipe at the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), for failing to deliver on its one million per constituency campaign promise.
The aspiring candidate seeking to represent the National Democratic Congress (NDC) told delegates in the Upper East region that, the NPP has revised its promise after realizing it could not deliver it.
“…The worse one[promise] is the $1 million, per constituency, per year. Now we are almost two years gone, so $2 million. But we’ve now been told that the money [for 2017 has] expired. Ask Agalga, they called the Minister [of Special initiatives, Hawa Koomson] to Parliament and asked her about last year’s money and she said that one has expired. I know rice, cooking oil, corned beef, sardine, they have expiry date, but I’ve never seen money with expiry date,” Mahama said.
“If we use her logic about 2017 one, then it means that 2018 one, today is October 12, it means that the expiry date for the 2018 one is 31st December 2018. It means that one is also expiring,” he added
Meanwhile, the Special Initiative Minister Jawa Koomson has said the money is being used for special projects.
According to the minister, a lot of projects earmarked to be constructed with the fund were ongoing at the various districts with some even near completion.
She made the comments in the Volta region few days ago on a visit to inspect ongoing projects under the Ministry’s Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Project (IPEP)
‘But the issue is that, if we share this money among communities in the constituencies, we will end up sharing our own blood because it will bring conflict. The government is not in to bring conflict to the communities but rather development’ she noted.
Under IPEP, each of the 275 constituencies has been allocated the cedi equivalent of US1million dollars this year to be invested in infrastructure development’ she said.
Madam Hawa Koomson said: ‘the one million per constituency is here with the ministry and we are using the money for the 1,000 metric tonnes prefabricated warehouses under the one district, one warehouse policy, 10-seater water closet institutional toilet with mechanised boreholes to address sanitation issues and a community-based solar powered water systems and an ambulance per constituency’.