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05.02.2009 Politics

AFAG ready to meet Ministerial nominees in court

By Charles Takyi-Boadu - Ghanaian Chronicle

The leadership of Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) who have been threatened with legal action by some of the nominees for Ministerial positions against whom they have levelled allegations, have said that they are not bothered by the threat of legal battle.

They have, therefore, dared the Minister designates involved to go to court since they are ready to meet them boot-for-boot. “It's a threat I'm not sure they will really carry out, but if they do, we will meet them in court and we're very sure that the court will decide our case to be right”, was how Abeiku Dickson -one of the leading members of the group put it.

AFAG have made series of allegations of impropriety against four of the President's nominees for Ministerial appointment, namely Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister designate for Trade and Industry; Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni, Minister designate for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister designate for Communication and Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister designate for Environment, Science and Technology.

According to Abeiku Dickson, they were not bothered by the threat of law suit for the simple reason that almost all the things they said were already in the public domain, asking rhetorically “so with these allegations already in the public domain, why are they now taking us to court?”

For now, he said they are looking at the legalities and merits of the case, but was confident that no legal action could be taken against them.

On his part, Accra-based legal practitioner, Godfred Dame, who happens to be one of the leaders of AFAG, saw nothing wrong with what they did, since according to him, they were only responding to invitation by Parliament for members of the public with concerns and reservations about any of the President's nominees to come out.

“We are not bothered at all about any legal actions because we cannot fathom why Parliament invites the general public to express their reservations or objections that they have against any specific person…” Based on this premise, he found it difficult to understand why anybody would use the same evidence brought before parliament as requested by the Appointments committe, against them in any law court.

He noted that if the need arose they would provide the evidence to support the claims they have made. That notwithstanding, he noted that they were bracing themselves up for any legal tussle that may arise, and expressed optimism that at the end of the day, they would be vindicated.

Members of AFAG have raised concerns over some of the President's nominations and their possible approval by Parliament.

They have, therefore, sent a petition before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, to block and to revoke the nomination of some selected individuals for Ministerial positions.

At a press conference in Accra, on Tuesday, the leadership of AFAG noted that the actions, conduct and behaviour of the said Ministerial nominees, reeked of disdain and conscious disregard for the basic laws of the country, since according to them, it has brought them into public disregard.

Hours after the press conference at which the leadership of AFAG made series of allegations of impropriety against four of the President's nominees for Ministerial appointment, they also gave indications about their preparedness if they were sued for defamation.

The group alleged that Ms Tetteh flouted the rules of Parliament by serving as legal Adviser to the Ghana Agro Food Company (GAFCO) while she was still MP for Awutu-Senya between 2001 and 2005, describing the conduct of the Minister-designate as “flagrantly unconstitutional and highly dishonourable.” In that regard, they said she was unfit for a Ministerial appointment.

According to the group, the national constitution provides that a Member of Parliament shall not hold any office of profit or emolument, whether private or public, and believes that the Trade and Industry Minister-designate has not respected the provision.

In a swift rebuttal, Ms. Hannah Tetteh said she accordingly sought the permission of the Speaker through the Privileges Committee of Parliament, before she took her advisory role in the company.

She therefore, described the assertion of AFAG as rather malicious. Considering the seriousness of the allegation, she promised to head for the law court after her vetting.

In an interview with Citi FM, she noted that “While the vetting process is over, I think I have every right to proceed...I mean I can take them to court for defaming me, for creating the impression that as a Member of Parliament I did something illegal....”

According to her, the group would have better informed the public if it had contacted her on the matter.

Asked how serious she was about her court threat, Ms Tetteh said “I still have my documentation; I am in a position to proceed to court.”

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