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I have seen this question come up from several quarters since the ban was announced by FIFA of Mr. Kwesi Nyantakye, former President of the Ghana Football Association.
I must say that the confusion on this entire issue was created by the government. Indeed, it was this government that announced that it established a prima facie case against Mr. Nyantakye and proceeded to outline certain charges that were likely to be brought against the person of Nyantakye following the video of investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
So today, citizens of Ghana are asking the government, you started your investigations, arrested Mr. Nyantakye long before FIFA received the petition and started work, yet, they are done with their findings while we wait on our government. What is delaying you?
It must also be established that government appears not to have any evidence to prosecute Mr. Nyantakye as stated by the Attorney General.
Following the order of the arrest of Mr. Nyantakye by the president, which many questioned, our hopes were held high that for the first time, our president was going to deal with ‘corruption’ as they claimed to have established by watching the video even in the absence of Mr. Nyantakye from the jurisdiction.
It is turning out as a disappointment that many months on, it has gone down as one of the usual cases seen under the government of the day.
It is rather unfortunate for us that government did not appear to know its boundaries. They got themselves confused, dragging everyone along, and in the end, find themselves tied up in knots they cannot simply untie.
As a matter of fact, breaching codes of ethics, are not the same as breaking the law. The procedure for trial for breaking ethical provisions, are not the same as those set out in criminal trials.
As the lawyers would tell us, in criminal trials, and especially because the rights of individuals are involved, there must be “prove beyond reasonable doubt” that indeed, there existed a crime, which crime was committed against an act prohibited by law, and which act is punishable under the law.
On the other hand, in the processes of establishing a breach of ethics, the whole process could be carried out on what the lawyers would call a “balance of probability”, which seeks to weigh the evidence and decide which ones are more probable.
In this case, the Ethics Committee that sat on this specific case, conducted their work on the balance of probability, establishing which of the allegations made against Nyantakye were probable, and applied the sanctions that they came with.
A further court trial would require more. As stated earlier, there must be prove of an existing law, there must be prove of a conduct (his charges), there must be prove that the conduct was prohibited and punishable under the law, there must be applied the rules of natural justice, there must be evidence adduced to that effect, which evidence must leave no doubt in the mind of the judge(s), before a final conviction can be secured.
In this very case, the president, based on his call, caused the Police as well as the Attorney General to run ahead of themselves. Without any evidence in the possession of the Police which they find weighty, they cannot proceed to court.
The application of law in these two seperate instances, cannot be the same. The government must hasten slowly in dealing with issues that bothers on law.
Gradually, with recent happenings, it appears our president is always acting ahead of the law before appreciating his bounds. We cannot continue like this.
I have take time to simply lay out my understanding on this matter, and to let us know that there is absolutely nothing government can do on this matter unless it takes a new angle. Our expectations must be buried immediately. We cannot rely on the procedures and evidence in ethical trial by a governing body of an association and assume we can apply same for the same results in a criminal law jurisdiction.
Our government must explain issues to us properly so that we can come to terms with the fact that their conduct had tied them down, and assure us that we would not be taken for granted should such issues arise during its term in office. We have simply been let down by cluelessness, and we must not be taken along this path again.
By Stephen Kwabena Attuh, ASK