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29.01.2009 General News

Pardon didn't take away criminal charges - Tsikata

Pardon didn't take away criminal charges - Tsikata

The former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, has advised drivers who were released from prison last year before the run-off elections to go to court to clear the criminal charges that were preferred against them.

He said although they were released by the immediate past government, there was the need for them to file an application to quash the criminal charges which were standing in the records of the courts against them.

Mr Tsikata, who gave the advice at a press conference in Accra yesterday, said a pardon did not take away the conviction, adding that he was still at the court, despite his pardon by ex-Presrdent Kufuor, to clear his name, since he was innocent

"As I indicated, I never sought this pardon, which is clearly in bad faith, from someone who has been the prime mover of the determination to have me in prison. From the time the first Attorney-General in the Kufuor administration, Nana Akufo-Addo, had summons served in the name of the President, the hand of the President has been evident," he explained.

According to him, all those who exercised discretionary power under the Constitution and laws of the country were subject to Article 296 of the Constitution and could not just act arbitrarily to try to cover up their own wrongdoing which was challenged by judicial process.

Mr Tsikata said he would, therefore, "pursue the judicial processes in the interest of justice and the accountability of office holders".

At the press conference, a documentary, The Albatross, on his conviction and the series of activities embarked upon by the Free Tsatsu Movement to demand his release from prison was shown to members of the press.

Mr Tsikata expressed his profound gratitude to all those who showed concern over his imprisonment and state of health, saying, "I have been really touched by the love shown and the support there has been for my cause."

He expressed concern over what he said was the collusion between the then executive and the judiciary to get him convicted and said such a negative practice was not good for the country and its democracy.

He later outlined the series of events leading to his conviction and imprisonment.

"The extraordinary events of June 18, 2008, my conviction and imprisonment by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban are worthy of close attention, 1 believe not only for my sake - but also for the country as a whole and for the sake of reflecting on issues of justice which concern all human beings and are so fundamental to society," he said.
He announced that the African Commission on Human and People's Right would hear a complaint in which he referred to the determination of the immediate past President to have him incarcerated by hook or crook.

Mr Tsikata said having submitted the complaint, the Attorney-General at the time, Mr Joe Ghartey, raised a preliminary objection on the ground that he (Tsikata) had not exhausted local remedies and that "this objection was upheld in November, 2006 without my receiving notice of the proceedings of the commission".

He said he then asked the commission to review its decision and it granted the request and reopened the issue as to whether his complaint was admissible.

On Tuesday, January 27, 2009, he said, he received a letter from the commission, dated January 5, 2009, indicating that the commission, at its session in Abuja, had "now decided in my favour and declared that my complaint is admissible".

According to the letter, which was made available to the press, the commission was to hear the complaint on its merit at its next session in May 2009.

Mr Tsikata also touched of the issue relating to the resignation of the immediate past President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr Nii Osah Mills, who commented on his case shortly after some executives of the GBA had visited him at the Nsawam Prison.

He said it was important that all the actors in such situations candidly disclosed their interests so that members of the association and the public would know where they were coming from.

Counsel for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Kizito Beyuo, he said, was from the law chambers Tetteh and Co., with the head of the chambers, Mr Kwame Tetteh, "now claiming to be the acting President of the GBA".

Mr Tsikata said Mr Tetteh was also the Chairman of the Merchant Bank, which was the trustee of the GNPC in respect of Valley Farms, adding that Frank Davies, the President of the Greater Accra branch of the GBA, represented Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban in the administrative inquiry constituted by the Chief Justice concerning her going to call Justice Farkye out of court when he was in the middle of reading his judgement in the Abodakpi case, while Mr 1. K. Agyell1ang acted as lawyer for former President Kufuor.