Private Legal Practitioner, Martin Kpebu has described as ridiculous and draconian, a law that causes people to pay a fine of at least GHC 12,000 or a minimum jail term of 4 years for not wearing a nose mask in public.
According to him, the law will rather destroy citizens instead of reforming them.
Per a new Executive Instrument, E.I 164, signed by President Akufo-Addo, persons who fail to wear face masks in public could face a jail term of between four and 10 years or pay a fine of between GHS12,000 and GHS60,000 or both.
Although the mandatory wearing of face masks will be in force only for a period of three months, some section of the public have described the attached punishment as too strict.
Providing a legal interpretation of the E.I, Martin Kpebu said though the framers of the law may have throught this will serve as a deterrent to others, the sanction is just baffling.
According to him, the President must be blamed for overseeing the drafting of this law.
“It’s definitely too draconian. Any day. It’s so ridiculous, I can’t believe it. This should have been rectified long ago. Where in this world would you see such a ridiculous sanction regime? I’m baffled. It appears information is not circulating to the President. The law is meant to reform citizens not to destroy. I know there is a value in deterrence but not in this way. In the European countries some of them are fining £135, you can do the calculation.
“This amount doesn’t come anywhere near the GHC 12,000 minimum we have to pay and for the avoidance of doubt, the GHC 12,000 is the minimum. The judge cannot reduce it by even GHC 1, it’s not possible. If the judge finds an accused person guilty, that’s the minimum, GHC 12,000 flat.
“If the President has asked people to help him and those people are drawing a ridiculous law, the ultimate responsibility comes to the President,” he said on Accra based Starr Fm.
According to Mr Kpebu, a petition should be put to together by all well meaning Ghanaians for the withdrawal or amendment of this law.
“Look at the minimum wage in Ghana and look at the NABCO employees, they are paid GHC 750 a month if you add that amount for 12 months, its not up to GHC 12,000 so how can you sentence somebody, first time and he will lose the whole of the year’s salary. He can’t even pay, he even needs to go to his relations to top up. And this is a NABCO employee, a graduate, 4 years of university education, if he falls foul of this law he needs more than a year’s salary, what are you doing to him, you’re going to destroy citizens. It’s a very ridiculous law.
“Let’s put together a petition and send it to the President. If all radio stations come together and we send a petition to the President, they will know this is not a partisan thing but concerns of citizens,” he added.