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Jomo, do you reckon the shortest route to becoming a president is to go round shooting presidents? No, wait.  That is a poorly-worded question. Let me rephrase it: What do you make of a fellow who grabs a loaded gun, goes to a location, and waits for the president of Ghana to show up, so that he can shoot the president dead, confident in his expectation, that the NDC and NPP would then suddenly lose their unyielding appetite for political power, and carry him shoulder high to Flagstaff House, to take the seat of the slain president?

Far from being a phantom playing attention-grabbing antics in the public mind, Charles Antwi is a flesh and blood being aged a handsome 36. Last Sunday, Antwi went to the Ringway Assemblies of God Church in Accra where President Mahama and his family worship, carrying a loaded hand gun. On arrest, he said he intended to shoot the president, so that he could then become president of the republic. The chap has been jailed 10 years for all his troubles, or rather for possessing a gun without a license.

Antwi according to reports, went and planted himself in a pew which was only three pews away from where the first gentleman would have sat had he been in church. Leaning or lunging forward and going bang, bang, bang at the big man would have been fairly easy, but hey, I have a question, Jomo:

Do you reckon that if the chap had indeed gone to the church with the express mission of assassinating the president as he claims, he would not have staunchly denied the fact even under great duress, and shouted his innocence to the stratosphere? He would probably have lied that he found the gun in the church loo, don’t you think?

The conclusion by some then, is that the nuts, screws, and bolts that hold the fellow’s skull together are all loose. The guys from the counter-intelligence industry would probably argue that, THAT is exactly what a hired assassin, having been caught with the gun, would try to make everyone believe: By claiming to be a would-be assassin of the president and thereby appearing to be recklessly putting his neck in a noose, everyone would conclude that he could only be rickety upstairs, and let him go, see?

The bloke we saw on television was indeed a lean and hungry looking character with a scraggy beard. However, Judge Francis Obiri who dispatched him to the cooler insisted that from his demeanour and confidence in the dock, the man is not insane, although we must admit demeanour and a show of confidence are not the best of medical tools to use in psychiatric diagnosis.

Critics of his trial and conviction insist that Antwi is mentally ill and should have been referred to a specialist for psychiatric evaluation. The have also pointed out that he had no access to legal representation and that his trial and conviction had proceeded at the speed of light: No sooner was arrested than he appeared before a judge and was heading for the cooler, all in matter of hours.

An appeal rather than work out to Antwi’s favour could dispose him to more trouble, Jomo. A successful appeal would most likely be on grounds of his alleged mental ill-health but would most certainly not lead to his freedom.

Anwti’s mother and brother say he has suffered mental problems for the past two years. That  may well be true, but the law cannot take their word for it. Under our justice system, it is only the Ankaful and Accra Psychiatric Hospitals which can certify that he is indeed mentally ill.

Lawyer David Annan explained on radio this week, that if Antwi were certified by specialists from either hospital to need psychiatric treatment, he would be committed to psychiatric treatment in an approved facility by the law. Annan said being committed to a psychiatric facility would make no difference at all as far as his sentencing is concerned, because he would still be held under normal prison conditions.

Periodic medical progress reports on his treatment would be made available to the court for a possible review of his case in future.

Antwi would in the meantime, have to undergo treatment and cannot refuse to take medications prescribed for him. If he did, reasonable force would be used to make him take his medications as prescribed under  the law. It would be dangerous for him to consume drugs meant for psychiatric treatment, if he were only feigning mental ill-health! So where does that leave him? Darned, if I have the foggiest clue, Jomo.