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01.07.2004 General News

NRC is an illegal body ... They should dismantle and go

By Chronicle
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THE NATIONAL Reconciliation Commission (NRC), which has only 13 days to complete its mandate of compiling records of human rights violation and to recommend appropriate steps to reconcile the nation, continues to attract attacks from sections of the public.

The NRC has been described variously as a mechanism for political witch-hunt, destruction of people perceived as perpetrators of human rights abuses and a tool for achieving a particular political end.

Only last week Captain Kojo Tsikata, ex-National Security Chief, in one such blistering attack, accused the commission of allowing people like Chris Asher, Mathew Adabuga and Oduro, to lie about him.

The next to join the fray and to pour new accusations at the NRC is former Deputy Attorney General and ex-presidential running mate of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills in the 2000 elections, Mr. Martin Amidu.

He described the NRC as an illegal body and called on the members “to dismantle and go away”.

“They should dismantle and go away because as far as I am concerned it is an illegal body,” he told The Chronicle in an interview, saying the commission had sinned against Act 611 of NRC 2002.

When Amidu, who at one time described himself as “shadow vice-president,” on account of being a presidential running mate, was questioned about his delay in raising his objections till the commission was about to complete its work, he said: “It is not the first time that I am articulating my views that the NRC Act 2002 (Act 611), is unconstitutional. Indeed several provisions of the Act sin against several articles of the constitution.”

He continued: “I remember in June 4, 2003, during a public lecture, I stated very clearly that ACT 611 was unconstitutional and gave reasons to that effect.

But this time round, I was invited specifically by the commission to make a statement to respond to an accusation against me for breaching somebody's fundamental human rights.”

He told The Chronicle that his misgivings about the commission was because of how he was compelled to appear as if he had done something criminal, adding that the commission had no jurisdiction to invite him.

Asked whether he would have pointed out his objection officially to the commission if he had not been accused of violating somebody's human rights, he responded: “Every Ghanaian has the responsibility to raise objections whether he goes there or not. There are ways I could have raised it.

If I have sufficient confidence in the judiciary, I go to court, if I don't have sufficient confidence, I won't go there because the constitution says you may.

“Article 3 of the constitution empowers me to defend the constitution so I can mobilize people to demonstrate against the NRC because it is unconstitutional or I can articulate the objections in any other way,” he argued.

Mr. Amidu who claimed he was exonerated from the allegations leveled against him and the witness was even ordered to render an apology to him said, his objection was to help the commission to be seen in a manner that was consistent with the constitution. He said each member of the commission had an obligation, under the constitution, to defend it and each member of the commission had a duty to read it before accepting to sit.

“If they have decided as commission members, I am telling them that what they are doing is unconstitutional and they better refuse to sit in that commission.”

He pointed out that initially the minority in Parliament raised an objection to the setting up of the commission but “they proceeded in perpetrating unconstitutionality”.

As to why the Commission invited him to cross-examine his accuser when the press had left, Mr. Amidu said: “The only conjecture that I can make is that the commission itself might have known that there was no case against me; they just intended to harass and humiliate me as somebody who has held office under the PNDC. Unfortunately for them, the cross-examination demonstrated to them that they have erred. And I suspect that by my answers, they have seen that there was no case against me.”

He said in one of his letters to the commission he had accused the legal counsel of inviting him when the Commission's own investigators had decided that it was not necessary to invite him.

Mr. Amidu demanded an apology from the commission for bringing him before them after they had realized that he did not merit being invited.

The former deputy attorney general last week appeared before the commission to respond to allegations made against him by Ex-Senior State Protocol Officer attached to the Upper East Regional Administration, Mr. James Addy.

Before his appearance, he raised preliminary constitutional objections to the act establishing the NRC.

He challenged the members of the commission to defend the constitution by refusing to perform the unconstitutional functions entrusted to them by Act 611.

“My preliminary constitutional objection will deal with three broad issues, namely, whether or not the National Reconciliation Commission Act 200 (Act 611), particularly sections 2(2), 3, 13, 15, and 20, is inconsistent with and in contravention of the letter and the spirit of the constitution of 1992, particularly chapter 23 thereof, and therefore is null, void and without effect whatsoever?”

Secondly, “whether or not section 3, 4 and 20 of the ACT 2000 (Act 611) is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 1(2), 3(2) and (4), 62, 79, 94, 103, 107, 110 (1), 298 and 299 of the constitution and section 34(3)(4) and (5) of the Transitional Provisions schedule to the constitution 1992,” and thirdly:

“Whether or not sections 15(1) and (2) of the National Reconciliation Act, 2000 (Act 611) is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 15(1) and (2)(b), 17(1) and 88(3) and (4) of the constitution o1992.”

The former deputy Attorney General who submitted a 30- page document to the NRC dated June 15, 2004, observed that he would be prepared to respond to the allegations made by Mr. Addy against him, dated September 18, 2002, if the preliminary objections he raised were raised addressed.

Mr. Amidu said he was invited by the NRC on May 28, concerning the allegations against him and was subsequently invited to make comments on the allegations. He said he complied with the commission's request and wrote back to them and was given hearing on the matter, adding that in the hearing notice, he was requested to bring any evidence or document that he thought would be useful to the commission.

“I do not wish, my appearance before this Commission, composed, as it were, of distinguished members for whom I have the greatest respect, to be misunderstood as an intention on my part to withdraw the constitutional objections I have taken to ACT 611. I appear here solely out of deep respect for members of the commission. I also do so in the belief that my appearance before this hearing cannot constitute estoppels against me in insisting on my constitutional objection to Act 611.”