Monday July 7, 2012
The Forum for Governance and Justice (FGJ) wishes to urge President J.E.A. Mills to in the national interest, appoint a Commission of inquiry to investigate all debts and claims against the State paid from the inception of the Fourth Republic till date; either resulting from negotiated settlements out of court or from judgements awarded against the State.
FGJ believes that the majority of Ghanaians consider the issue of judgement debt to be of mammoth public interest. We also believe that the President is a listening President, hence, our request on behalf of the good people of Ghana for him to appoint a non-partisan Judge-led Commission of inquiry to look into this debilitating national challenge.
The President has the needed power under article 278 of the 1992 Constitution to grant our request. Among others, article 278 states: (1) Subject to article (5) of this Constitution, the President shall, by constitutional instrument, appoint a Commission of inquiry into any matter of public interest where - (a) the President is satisfied that a Commission of inquiry should be appointed.
The FGJ feels justified in making this call based on the multiplicity of justifications, reasons, and explanations offered by past government officials in relation to the African Automobile Limited gallopers saga. In light of the current blame and counter-blame by past and present government officials as well as Members of Parliament, drawn from the NPP and the NDC, the only two political parties which have ruled Ghana since the inception of the Fourth Republic, we are convinced that we can only get to the bottom of why and how we paid GHC 642 million in debt and may pay more, through a Commission of inquiry.
Clearly, there are various causes of debts against the State. We understand that some of the payments adding up to the GHC 642 million resulted from molestations by members of the security agencies, others were in respect of wrongful dismissal of government employees, compensation in respect of accidents caused by some public officials, as well as wrongful demolition of private properties.
However, the truth is that actions and or in-actions of government and public officials, past and present, in the form of breach of contracts constitute the mass of the payments made so far. Eighty-six institutions and individuals benefited from such payments in 2010 alone. Among them were Balkan Energy Limited (GH 170,726), CP Construction (GH 180,012,982), African Automobile Limited (GH 2,500,000), MS Rockshell International (GH 7,140,500); Latex Foam Limited (GH 133,165), Novotee Limited (GH 573,058) and Nene Yobo Asutsuare Sugar Factory (GH 2,525,600). Dr. Seth Twum, Nana Owusu Akyia Prempeh II, Kojo Boakye Kutin, Kojo Hodare-Okae and Alfred Agbesi Woyome are among the individual beneficiaries.
While we understand that judgement debt is not synonymous to corruption, we believe that a Judge-led Commission could expose any associated acts of corruption. As well, a Commission of inquiry will likely reveal the truth about how and why the judgement debts came to be and whose actions or in-actions may have caused the State to pay out GHC 642 million and potentially more.
It is our conviction that as a nation, we must fully examine the conditions precipitating debt against the State. As we have noted before, we believe that we must serve notice that public and government officials, will be held accountable, even personally liable, should their actions or in-actions lead to needless and preventable judgement debt.
As a matter of fairness, we must acknowledge that the bulk of the debt government incurred (GH 642 million) as judgment debt between 2001 and 2011 includes debts against the State from the start of the Fourth Republic, thus, the need to investigate from that point.
We conclude by indicating our trust that a non-partisan Judge-led Commission of inquiry will help us, as a nation, to find out where we went wrong, based on which we can embark on a collective and honest journey of national redemption.
Dr. Clement A. Apaak
Convener, Forum for Governance and Justice - Ghana
020 011 7620