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12.08.2010 Feature Article

Justice Douse's commission is a waste of time - I told you so

Justice Douse's commission is a waste of time - I told you so
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In July last year, I wrote in an article that the setting up of the Justice Douse Commission was a waste of time and the tax payers' resources. My position has been vindicated by the recent ruling of the Accra Fast Track High Court which "acquitted and discharged Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby and Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani from the charges of wilfully causing financial loss to the state in their management of the Ghana at 50 celebrations."

Below is an unedited reproduction of the article which was first published on myjoyonline.com on 28 July, 2009.

Almost every Ghanaian can agree on the fact that those who lead us cannot mislead us and get away with it. That is why we must support every justifiable attempt to get to the bottom of the amount of damage and thievery that went on in the conduct of the [email protected] celebrations and other public events where funds for public projects may have been diverted for private gain.

I am however not impressed by the setting up of a commission of inquiry to probe Kwadwo Mpiani and his team. There's a degree of incompetence creeping in the Attorney-General's department. The A-G wouldn't keep her cards closer to her chest but would get into needless media spectacle by announcing that her outfit is about to prosecute previous government officials suspected of causing financial loss to the state.

First of all what is the motif for setting up a public commission of inquiry into the activities of [email protected]? Well, we are told it is to investigate and report allegations of improper use of public funds and related matters.

I have no problem whatsoever with the calibre of people appointed to manage this commission. Justice Isaac Douse, Osei Tutu Prempeh and Marrieta Brew Appiah Oppong have impressive CVs in their respective professions and capable of running any inquisitorial commission set up by the state to investigate financial crime.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the President setting up a commission of enquiry in accordance with Article 278 clause 1 of our constitution, but there's everything wrong with setting up a commission to probe the activities of [email protected]

Government has an opportunity to cleanse away persons who are suspected of breaching the trust of the people of Ghana, instead it is engaged in a humiliating attempt to prosecute wrong doing and utterly oblivious to the fact that its attempts to prosecute suspect thieves in the Kufuor regime is embarrassing the party.

To start with, the commission is certainly not a judicial commission of enquiry; it doesn't have the mandate to establish civil or criminal liability and does not have the powers to apportion blame.

Thanks to the transitional team's report, we have a huge body of material that could be used in instituting prosecution against persons who ripped off the nation. It was established in the transitional report and other findings that the [email protected] Secretariat owed GH¢18 million cedis to contractors. And this was in spite of overspending on an approved budget without clearance from parliament.

Whilst many of our sons and daughters in areas such as Nyankpala, Kpevi, Kokrobite, Abanze, Fosu and Swalaba lacked the basic structures for a half decent education, some of the nation's aristocrats were basking in the glow of luxury vehicles and provided funfair for some of their equally corrupt African leaders.

It emerged in Edward Dua Agyemang's interim audit report delineating evidence of corruption at the [email protected] Secretariat. We now know that the secretariat led by Wereko-Brobbey and supervised by Kwadwo Mpiani did not have internal audit mechanism resulting in the unexplained disappearance of vehicles and property belonging to the state.

Thanks to the hitherto untouchable Kwadwo Mpiani, who brazenly told parliament he couldn't be compelled to account for his stewardship as overseer of the our 50th independence activities, the nation blew $12.9million on souvenir and went into an overdraft of GH¢40 million cedis when parliament had approved only GH¢20 million cedis for the event.

I am not going into the repulsive spending of $12.9 million on memorabilia and the sheer arrogance of the architects of these acts of suspected economic terrorism against hardworking Ghanaians. I am however wondering if the A-G is suggesting to the people of Ghana that she cannot go ahead and prosecute on the basis of available material? What would the Justice Douse commission be able to unearth that state prosecutors cannot unearth?

The A-G's posturing is a clear case of dereliction of duty and a show of incapability to deal with suspected economic criminals like Mpiani and Brobbey.

If we are serious about punishing economic crime, the government would suspend this commission of inquiry which is a total waste of everybody's time and institute immediately prosecution against persons suspected of causing financial loss to the state. If we suspect Mpiani and his team of corruption, the courtroom is the only appropriate place to invite, drag or subpoena them.

RAS MUBARAK

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