The law on Causing Financial Loss to the State, according to those who initiated it, was never meant to be used against offenders. This is because it could retard initiative and render people overly cautious in not taking a financial risk, regardless of how pious their intentions may be.
However, in the NCA case, it is quite instructive to say that this cannot be described as political witch-hunting. The Court ruling suggest, to my mind that, this was a pure case of collusion to milk the State.
But because those convicted have through their lawyers indicated their intentions to appeal against the judgement, one ought to be circumspect in order not to prejudice the appeal processes. It is therefore not necessary for me to make protracted comments on the main issue.
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal process, however, there are a few lessons to be learnt:
First, politicians do not control the pace at which the axis of justice must run. Politicizing the fight against corruption by making not-properly though through promises in an electioneering campaign, without taking cognizance of the fact that building evidence to support a case takes time, may be unhelpful as it creates huge public expectations and heaps pressure on the government to expedite a process that it cannot control.
This makes government seem deficient in fighting corruption. It is that simple. If you promised to fight corruption and succeed in getting a conviction for only one case in almost four years, people will have legitimate reasons to feel the battle against the canker has been lost by your regime. But this may genuinely not be the case, as no government can fast track court processes.
Secondly, the law on causing financial loss to the state, though passed by the regime of the National Democratic Congress, has been used against NDC appointees more. This should send a signal to current appointees of the New Patriotic Party that there may be no merciful Atta Mills in a future NDC government. In other words, current appointees must ensure they stay out of deals that could give them trouble, as a future NDC regime may likely be ruthless in using the law against them.
Thirdly, the current regime must appreciate the truism that the real test of fighting political corruption is in prosecuting its own appointees, should they breach the law. It is to be recalled that Kufuor scratched the surface of this, by dealing with Mallam Issa, his own Minister for Youth and Sports. John Mahama started the processes that led to the jailing of Abuga Pele and others.
If the appointees of the current regime are all truly corrupt-free, so be it and we must then applaud the President for putting together such a supporting team of political saints. But if they are involved in matters of corruption as some are alleging, then it is in their own interest that they are dealt with now, under the tenure of the NPP, than to be left in the hands of any future political regime that may likely be more retaliatory and ruthless.
Dr. Ransford Gyampo is a Research Fellow at the Governance Unit of the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research interest lies in the area of Governance, Democracy, Human Rights and Development.