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01.02.2007 General News

Court Rules On Anane's Case March 13

By William Yaw Owusu
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An Accra Fast Track High Court will on March 13, decide whether the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) was right in its recommendation that Dr. Richard Winfred Anane, former Transportation Minister, be relieved of his post.

This follows the completion yesterday, of arguments between counsel for CHRAJ and Dr. Anane who filed the application for judicial review on September 22, 2006, challenging certain aspects of the decision.

On September 15, last year, CHRAJ recommended that Dr. Anane be relieved of his position as a Minister of State 'for bringing his power and office into disrepute' after it cited him for perjury, conflict of interest and abuse of power and office.

He was also asked to apologise to the Appointments Committee of Parliament that approved his appointment as a Minister, for lying under oath.

The decisions were reached by the Commission after an 18-month investigation into allegations of corruption, conflict of interest and abuse of power levelled against the former Minister in his dealings with Ms. Alexandria O’Brien, an American with whom Dr. Anane has a child.

Arguing before the court, presided over by Appeal Court Judge Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, counsel for Dr. Anane, Mr J.K Agyemang, said the investigation set out by CHRAJ was 'riddled with irregularities but went ahead to make findings where it clearly lacked jurisdiction'.

He said CHRAJ acted in breach of the provisions of the Constitution, the Act of Parliament, as well as Constitutional Instrument 7, adding that 'they failed to adhere to laid down procedures before going ahead to investigate the matter'.

Mr. Agyemang said for instance, there should have been a complaint lodged by an identifiable complainant before the CHRAJ could proceed to investigate the matter.

'CHRAJ infringed the constitution in purporting to deal with Dr. Anane the way it did,' he said.

On the issue of perjury, counsel argued that Dr. Anane was never invited to deal with any complaint to that effect at the hearing but CHRAJ stated clearly in its recommendations that he misconducted himself when he appeared before Parliament.

'What they did is tantamount to the establishment of guilt which is a violation. He did not get any notice of complaint to enable him to put up a defence,' Mr. Agyemang said.

'There is no bad faith on the part of Dr. Anane. If there is any, then it is CHRAJ which had handled issues clearly beyond their mandate.

On conflict of interest, counsel said that CHRAJ did not have the mandate to investigate and acted in breach of the constitution. 'The commission is not the police or the court to investigate such matters.

'By recommending that there was a conflict of interest on the part of Dr. Anane means that CHRAJ is admitting that there was no formal complaint in the first place,' he argued.

Responding, Phillip Ebow Bondzie-Simpson, counsel for CHRAJ said a body such as CHRAJ 'can carry out investigations or initiate its own investigations when there has not been any complaint.'

Whilst conceding that there was no complaint before commencing investigations, counsel added that a complaint is not always required according to the mandate given us.'

He said the commission established a prima facie case against Dr. Anane before going ahead to investigate him.

He said on the issue of perjury, the commission is entitled to investigate the truthfulness and credibility of a witness before making recommendations.