It is yet another thrilling SOCIAL CONVO encounter with a legal luminary in The Readers Hub whose dedication to defending the rights of under privileged in the society is unparalleled, unmatched and worth emulating. His humility speaks volume of his gentility with a keen sense of humour and unrelenting in his quest for justice. This basic attributes, to a larger extend, makes him approachable to the ordinary man on the streets, his feats, notwithstanding.
Indeed, the encounter will be ardently moderated by one of our very own, Mr. Bachang Haadi. Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome the man of the people, Lawyer Saeed Abdul Shakur as our ‘Personality for tonight’s SOCIAL CONVO’.
Haadi: Welcome to Social Convo Lawyer Saeed Abdul Shakur.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Thank you so much. I’m presently like a ghost at Winneba junction, I don’t know if I’m going to Elmina or Cape Coast.
Haadi: Who is Abdul Shakur?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: He is ‘Hammer’ (beaming with smiles).
Haadi: Are you a carpenter? (Smiles)
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: My name is Saeed Abdul Shakur (Esq). I was born over 4 decades ago. I started school at T.I. Ahmadiyya basic school in Wa. I had my ‘O’ level at Lawra Secondary School, then to Wa Secondary school for my ‘A’ level. I stopped over at a teacher Training College, after which I taught for 2 years and dashed to University of Ghana, Legon. I returned to teach for another 2years. After which, I returned to University of Ghana again to pursue the LL.B program and made a final stop at the Ghana School of Law (Makola). I joined the office of the Attorney General in 2008. I’m still presently at the Office of the Attorney General.
Haadi: Fantastic and impressive!
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I’m currently a Principal State Attorney and Head of the Attorney General Department, Upper West Region.
Haadi: Where from the name ‘Hammer’, any link with the legendary ‘MC Hammer?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I used to and still do a lot of dancing (smiles). I really love to dance. I’m no longer as effective a dancer as I was. It was in secondary school that my peers gave me that name. A dance style pioneered by the musician MC Hammer was in vogue or fashionable around 1992/93. That’s how I became hammer. I fought initially but when I realized that I was swimming against the tide I gave up the fight and took it in after all “the better part of valour is discretion”
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I love it to the core.
Haadi: You may have had a lot of childhood memories then. Kindly share any childhood memories with us if you wouldn’t mind.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I shuttled between Wa and Fielmon. I gained admission into secondary at a rather young age (11yrs).I didn’t know exactly why I was in school or what I wanted to be after school. My priority was always to move to the next class. Indeed, my childhood was not any different from any normal child growing up in the North. A combination of farm and school. I believe I had a problem with staying focused on anything for more than 30minutes.
Going forward, I was not really a serious person. So many things didn’t make any sense to me. I can say on authority that I received lashes from teachers almost every day of the week.
Haadi: You might have been stubborn (winks)
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: One thing that remains indelibly imprinted in my mind is what my immediate hero, my late father used to tell us any time we are going to farm. Our farm was opposite NJA Ahmadiyya Training College. Part of our farm lands were compulsorily acquired by government for housing for public servants. Any time we pass by the Government Houses, my father will tell us that “the difference between the watchman and his master is school”. Truth be told, this profound statement has never left me
Haadi: And I believed that made you to reach this far in your life.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Certainly. He used to call me ‘Patapaa’. I didn’t know the meaning but I know it was because I fought every one of my brothers. I always fight back regardless!
Haadi: Please Learned Counsel, how is a Principal State Attorney’s work like? Kindly take us through your career.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I’m a lawyer for the government. I represent government in the region. I give advice to the police on all criminal matters. I prosecute for and on behalf of the republic. The core job is to advise and prosecute.
Haadi: Counsel, how easy has it been as a native of the town and region, who has to mediate between cases without bias and sometimes prosecute your own people?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Presently my specialty is criminal law. I really love my job. Never am I happier when I knock off a bad guy. Increasingly the work is becoming so difficult because it’s not uncommon these days to see the big bad guys walk away whilst the small fishes get caught. The most difficult job to do in my hometown is what I’m saddled with. There’s hardly any person who wants to help in the fight against crime especially when their relatives and friends are involved. They will not stop at anything to get a bad guy off the hook. Interestingly, even religious leaders are always ready and willing to come to the aid of bad guys who congregate with them.
Haadi: The canker that makes law enforcement difficult in our country, I guess.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I really don’t have a scintilla of empathy for any bad guy and I make no distinction between them. I however think that, there are crimes that can be resolved without prosecution and the Courts Acts empowers us to; in the interest of justice resolve misdemeanours if we can. For example; if a person slaps his cousin out of anger. I don’t see how putting such a person in jail can solve any problem.
Haadi: How has it been to gain admission into the law school in your time? What do you make of the current situation of pursuing law in Ghana?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur .I applied to University of Ghana in 1998 to study law but by some strange circumstances I was denied admission. The cut- off point was aggregate 8 and I made a 6. I was offered History, Religion and Theatre arts. I initially decided to decline the offer but I was advised against it. So, I completed UG in 2001 and came to Wa to teach. Whilst teaching I saw the advert for entrance exams. I applied wrote the exam and came back to Wa . I was invited for interview and subsequently offered admission. Let me state that I didn’t write any exam or interview to gain admission into Ghana School of Law (Makola)
Haadi: Admission for LLB?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Yes. This was my first attempt at University of Ghana. The transition from LLB to GSL wasn’t difficult as it is today. All the people with LLB certificates were admitted as of right. I can’t bring myself to terms why someone with LLB will fail entrance exam. It’s preposterous!
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I’m opinionated and quite loud. I love to speak out. I’m hardly intimidated by anyone. Though a sage once said “it’s foolery to stand against a falling fabric” I can risk it all to make my point. I love to interact with people of all walks of life.
Haadi: What are some of your challenges as a lawyer (what keeps you awake at night)?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Any time a bad guy is about to slip off my grip. Especially when there are errors from the side of the prosecution. I learned early enough at the Law faculty that “every distress cry is an invitation to rescue”. So, when I’m unable to do anything about a problem that is within my reach, I get really sick.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: There are times we fail in court because of avoidable errors. Recently a police prosecutor was transferred and I inherited his dockets and I immediately realized that he had done a bad job and the bad guy was about to walk away. I was so mad that for two weeks I was talking to myself and friends had to help me to get rid of it.
Haadi: Aww…..very depressing!
Haadi: Describe your typical day as a regional state attorney.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I go to the court straight from the house because I spend a lot of time preparing in the night and I still love to use my memory a lot. I try to avoid any interaction which could intrude into my thoughts. After court, I go to the office to advice on dockets (write legal opinion for the republic). Sometimes I shuttle between courts, police station, prisons, Regional Coordinating Council etc. It can sometimes be so hectic but I’m enjoying every piece of it.
QUESTIONS TIME FROM THE READERS HUB
Haadi: Now let’s take some questions from our readers in The Readers’ Hub.
- What would he do differently if he had the chance to be in primary, JHS/SHS again, in relation to making decisions as a young person?
- How does one prosecuting another citizen over certain non-personal crime work(E.g., people who paste bills on road signs and or dump rubbish recklessly etc.)?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Regarding the first question, I will be more serious with my studies. I nearly dropped out of school because I failed Mathematics. I was out of school for 3years. It was my sister who got me money to register NOV/DEC. So, it is important that at that stage and of course any other stage in academia, we take our studies seriously. Now with the second question, I must indicate that it’s not yet well honed in our system to hold people to account for these infractions. The Attorney General (AG) has delegated her prosecuting powers to the appropriate state agencies to conduct prosecution. SSNIT, Forestry Commission etc can all prosecute those types of offenses. In fact, most of these infractions are regulated by the Assembly bye-laws
Haadi: E.I. 164 (No.10) makes wearing of face masks compulsory for the next 3 months nationwide and prescribes same sanctions in section 6 of the Imposition of Restrictions Act 2020; (Act 1012). Please what do you make of these sanctions and can you help us understand the law on COVID-19 ?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I think my little knowledge on criminal law will not allow me to accept a law like that. How can you punish anyone for not having a bank account? You must first of all provide such a person with money and punish him if he fails to open a bank account. Indeed, it is a knee jerked legislation and an elitist response to a serious problem. Have you thought of those who cannot afford a nose mask? Poverty cannot be criminalized!
Haadi: We hope you will make time with us and take us through the Imposition of Restrictions Act and the various Executive Instruments on COVID-19 on one of our media handles-Social Media Monk at your convenience.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Sure, I will be more than willing.
Dr. Zakari: What’s your view on the issue of the youth not trying to work within their home regions?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: It’s very difficult I must admit but it is worth every minute of it. I have never regretted my decision and I love and respect people like Dr. Zak, Dr. Elias, Dr. Ibrahim and all those who would have made more money and less responsibility anywhere in Ghana except Upper West Region. Will you believe that there are people in Upper West who suffer injustice because there are not enough lawyers here? I want to encourage the young ones that we can change the system and make it better if we work in the Upper west Region. Nobody will come and make Upper West a better place for us. It is our collective responsibility to make it so.
Dora Mwinteroo: Please did you choose to settle in Upper West Region or you were posted and based on your answer, would you have made an otherwise decision?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I started my practice in Kumasi as a private practitioner. I was doing well but I decided to join Office of the Attorney General and actually pleaded with the system to send me to Wa, Upper West Region.
Haadi: No wonder you are loved and a household name in Wa and beyond.
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: The fact that young people are able to see me and dream of becoming someone like me is a joy to my soul.
- What will you miss if you ever go on transfer out of Wa?
- What do you think the people of Wa will miss about your services in Wa.
- Which kind of people will you ordinarily pick as your friends?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I will miss Dr Elias and all my friends who keep me going. I will also miss the censorship and gossips. Above all I will miss the eyes of gratitude most people show to me. Of course; they will equally miss an honest prosecutor who will not sell crime and a polite lawyer who doesn’t think lawyers are any different or better than janitors. And easily make friends with open minded and compassionate people. People like Samad who like to give me books to read (smiles).
Oswald: What do you think of the decision of the apex court (Supreme Court) to merge the cases against the EC intention to carry out voter registration and yet the day for ruling is indefinitely stated with the knowledge that the EC will commence their action come the 30th June, 2020. Is that a sublime way of telling the populace, “these are ugly noises”?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: No, it’s called consolidation. It’s a standard practice and most lawyers expected it. If you’re in court for the same reason, the courts will normally consolidate the cases to avoid duplicity.
Barnabas: I must commend you both for all this very insightful engagement. God bless you both. But I want to find out from the learned Lawyer about his thoughts, since he advises on government’s policies, on the E.I 64 or so that was issued granting the state sweeping powers to access our networks data. Is it a good and fair legislative directive to be issued and would he advise such as good or bad directive, albeit we are not in normal times?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: If you follow international trends you will notice, Apple and US government battled for a long time to have access to the Boston marathon bombers cell phone. I don’t think the legislation ought to go that far.
I love the Law, I do not want to Practice, but I wish I had a legal background in IT Law. Any advice?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: That’s the way to go. If you enrol and get an LL.B you could concentrate on Intellectual Property Law. From the discussion we had with Dr Tahiru Hakeem Balubie, I think if we the old school don’t participate in the new Digital Age Revolution, we might be found wanting.
Haadi: How does the next 5 years look like for you, Counsel?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur All things being equal I’m left with one rank to end it at Office of the Attorney General. I might challenge myself elsewhere. I think I need to work in another part of the north. I don’t want to work in Accra or Kumasi. There is traffic (smiles)
Haadi: What are your hobbies, Counsel?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: I love to travel, read, debate, play scrabble and watching of football. I love reading everything. I have read all Shakespeare plays, Achebe, Soyinka etc.
Haadi: Will you consider representing your people at the legislature in future when they come calling?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: It’s a big NO. I’m a nonconformist. I easily peel off from the herd and that can cause me trouble. I will give you two examples, are you ready.
Any book that impacted your life so much that you will like to share with us?
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Finally, I’m not fanatical about anything including faith. My favourite quote is that “even God can be mocked’’.
Sansui: Mine is not really a question but an endorsement of Shakur’s character, his stature appears to have very little to do with his choice of friends, his attitude towards the ordinary guy is simply respect and has been a silent inspiration to innumerable young people in the upper west region.Sir,we are most grateful!
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: My ‘big head’ is swelling.
Haadi: It has been a great session with a ‘big man’ yet so humble and down to earth. We appreciate you making time out of your busy schedule to share your inspirational journey with us.
Haadi: Your concluding remarks, Counsel
Lawyer Abdul Shakur: Thank you so much. I didn’t watch the match (smiles).
Haadi: We thank you for sacrificing the match for us. Keep soaring higher and we wish you all the best in your endeavours. God bless you.
Haadi: Readers, this is where we bring the curtains down on tonight’s SOCIAL CONVO! Thank you all for making time to be with us.
Haadi: My guest has been Lawyer Abdul Shakur (Lawyer Hammer), the principal state attorney for upper west Region.
Haadi: Until then, have a good night everyone.
NB: Please remember to share after reading for others to also benefit.
Hub Editor: Bassing A.M.A.Kamal
!!!THE END !!!