19.03.2010 General News

Probe Into M&J Scandal-CHRAG Boss On The Carpet For Alleged Prejudicial Comment

19.03.2010 LISTEN
By Daily Graphic

Counsel for two officials mentioned in the Mabey & Johnson (M&J) bribery scandal is on a collision course with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the commission’s legibility to continue with the ongoing probe into the scandal.

He has threatened to commence legal action against CHRAJ if it persists in continuing with any further investigation of his clients.

However, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Emile Short, declined to comment on the issue when contacted for his reaction.

In a letter to CHRAJ, Mr Samuel M. Codjoe, counsel for Mr Kwame Peprah and Alhaji Baba Kamara, criticised Mr Short for having discussed the pending case before the commission extensively on a Metro TV programme and making very prejudicial statements on the matter.

According to Mr Codjoe, on “Good Evening Ghana”, a current affairs programme on Metro TV, Mr Short said the preliminary objection raised as to the jurisdiction of CHRAJ to investigate private individuals was incompetent and would be dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Mr Codjoe called on CHRAJ to excuse itself from the investigations on the grounds that it could not be impartial and or guarantee his client a fair hearing.

“We state further that the statements made in the interview by Commissioner Short also constitute misconduct which disables your commission from further investigation into the matter,” he stated.

Building the base for the petition, he said the commission, which was a creation of the Constitution, was presently conducting a public hearing on the M&J scandal.

Mr Codjoe said the commission, being a quasi-judicial body, was required to observe some basic and fundamental rules, including refraining from discussing a pending matter with third parties.

He explained that the requirement that judicial and quasi-judicial officers refrained from commenting on pending matters before them was to protect the interest of the parties being investigated, maintain impartiality and neutrality and also not incite the public against the investigating persons.

Mr Codjoe contended that it was also to forestall any prior pronouncement on pending matters until the determination of the case.

He said by his statements on Metro TV on March 16, 2010, Commissioner Short, acting on behalf of the commission, sought to incite the public against his clients.

“We are of the opinion that this conduct is unwarranted and sins against all known rules governing judicial and quasi-judicial officers. We state further that in the said television interview, the commissioner stated specifically that he was speaking for and behalf of the commission.

“We are of the opinion that your commission should cease any further investigation of our clients in the matter,” Mr Codjoe added.