A live radio interview granted by a private legal practitioner, Maurice Ampaw, on an Accra-based Angel FM indicates, Tema West Legislator, Carlos Ahenkorah, cannot be prosecuted for breaching the Covid-19 protocols because he was forced to resign.
The then Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, breached the Covid-19 protocols by visiting certain parts of his constituency to inspect progress of the ongoing voter registration exercise, despite testing positive for the virus.
His 14-day isolation had not elapsed when he embarked on the constituency tour.
After his resignation was accepted by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, several calls have followed, asking for his prosecution.
But Maurice Ampaw said, “Carlos cannot be prosecuted because that would amount to double jeopardy.”
He explained that “the fact that the president forced him to resign is a punishment in itself and prosecuting him would mean he’s being punished twice for the same offence, which is contrary to the law.”
He said some benefits of Mr. Ahenkorah such as his title, allowance and ex-gratia, have all been lost, aside from the embarrassment associated with being forced to resign.
“The Constitution of Ghana is not about individual perception but what the law says, which is someone cannot be punished twice for a single offence”, Mr. Ampaw indicated.
However, fact-checkghana’s investigation into the issue indicates, the claim, is misleading.
Section 6 of the Imposition of Restrictions Act 2020, passed by Parliament and assented to by the President, detailing the offences and penalties states,
“A person who fails to comply with a restriction imposed under the Executive Instrument issued under subsection (1) of section 2 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than one thousand penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than four years and not more than ten years or to both”.
This, many believe, warrants the prosecution of Mr. Ahenkorah. Others even want his candidature for the New Patriotic Party for Tema West constituency in the upcoming parliamentary elections relieved.
Amongst the numerous calls is one from the General Secretary of opposition National Democratic Congress, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, who said at a press briefing in the Volta region, “Resignation is not part of the laws of Ghana [so] we are calling for the prosecution of Carlos Ahenkorah.”
A security analyst, Adam Bonaa also said on Angel FM that “pastors who organised church services during the lockdown were arrested and prosecuted and same must be done to the former deputy minister.”
He stated, he [Carlos] should be charged with “criminal negligence because if it had been an ordinary person that breached the law, that person would have been arrested”.
But, Maurice Ampaw explained that prosecution will amount to double jeopardy.
A telephone conversation Fact-checkghana had with a Constitutional lawyer and senior law lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr. Poku Adusei, revealed the position of the law on the matter. He noted that Carlos could be prosecuted.
“It is a judicial process. It has to be a court pronouncing the matter. Not when you’ve been fired and you have not been prosecuted. They are different,” Dr. Poku Adusei said.
He went on to explain, that, “double jeopardy doesn’t apply there. When you read the State vrs Essien, it is clear. So when you are dismissed like the judges who took money after Anas’ case, they were dismissed. They could have been prosecuted. They could have had their license also revoked by the General Legal Counsel. So it doesn’t matter. It is only a court that is where the rule applies.”
Article 19, clause 7 of the 1992 Constitution states: “No person who shows that he has been tried by a competent court for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for any other criminal offence of which he could have been convicted at the trial for the offence, except on the order of a superior court in court in the course of appeal or review proceedings relating to the conviction or acquittal.”
In the case of Carlos Ahenkorah, he has not been tried by any court on the matter so Maurice Ampaw’s claim that prosecuting him amounts to double jeopardy is false.