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21.07.2005 General News

Hotel Kufuor: CHRAJ Ignores ‘Ugly Noises’


…And Proceeds With Its Preliminary Investigations Into $3.5m 'Hotel Kufuor' Transaction! The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) appears unperturbed by the 'ugly noises' being made about its decision to conduct preliminary investigations into the circumstances surrounding the purchase of an uncompleted hotel building situated on Plots No: 237 and 238 at Airport West, worth $3.5 million by the Airport West Hospitality Company Limited.

Credible media reports last week indicated that the Commission had written to Anthony Saoud, original owner of the uncompleted hotel building, Gizelle Yajzi, an America-based lady of 'unknown nationality' and Radio Gold's Roland Acquah-Stevens, seeking their assistance in its investigations.

Our Special Investigations Team (SIT) last week also intercepted a letter dated July 11, 2005 titled “INVESTIGATIONS INTO CORRUPTION AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST – REQUEST FOR INFORMATION”, signed by the Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms. Anna Bossman, which was addressed to Hon. David Hennric Yeboah, Member of Parliament for Afigya Sekyere East Constituency and son-in-law of Anthony Saoud, requesting the former to meet the Acting Commissioner at 11:00am on Friday, 15th July, 2005.

“The Commission is conducting preliminary investigations into the allegations and would be grateful for the assistance you can give in this matter. Accordingly, you are requested to meet the Acting Commissioner at 11:00am on Friday 15th July, 2005”, stated Ms. Bossman in her letter under reference.

She reminded the Honourable Member of Parliament that the request was being made pursuant to the powers conferred on the Commission under Section 8(1)(c)(d) of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act 1993 (Act 456) which provides as follows: “The Commission shall, for the purposes of performing its functions under this Act, have power – (c) “to question any person in respect of any subject matter under investigations before the Commission” and (d) “to require any person to disclose truthfully and frankly any information within his knowledge relevant to any investigations by the Commissioner”.

Ms. Bossman's letter recalled that recent media reports had alleged acts suggesting conflict of interest on the part of the President, His Excellency Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor with regards to the acquisition of the uncompleted hotel building.

“The allegations concern the acquisition of a hotel worth over US$3 million being constructed on Plots No. 237 and 238 (the Hotel) and situated at the Airport West Residential Area, Accra”, stated the letter.

The letter noted that the allegations had specially cited the eldest son of the President, Mr. John Addo Kufuor, also known as “Chief Kufuor”, as fronting for the President in the acquisition of the Hotel.

“One Ms. Gizelle Yajzi is reported to have assisted in the negotiations before your good self, as a representative of Mr. Anthony Saoud, for the sale of purchase of the Hotel at some point in time. Ms. Yajzi has since been on a number of radio stations claiming she indeed negotiated for the sale and purchase of the Hotel on behalf of the President. Both Mr. John Addo Kufuor and the Office of the President have denied the allegations”, Ms. Bossman underscored.

Information available to The Crusading GUIDE indicates that Anthony Saoud, and Radio Gold's Roland Acquah-Stevens have all indicated their readiness to cooperate with CHRAJ in its investigations. Hon. Yeboah, our sources confided, had responded to CHRAJ's invitation and already tendered in some documentations relative to the transaction, to assist in the investigations. Radio Gold, our unconfirmed reports, indicated, had also submitted the recordings of its interviews with Madam Yajzi to CHRAJ. In sharp contrast, Madam Gizelle Yajzi told Radio Gold last week that she would not cooperate with CHRAJ because she couldn't bet on the integrity of the Commission.

Apart from casting doubt on the political neutrality and independence of the CHRAJ, Yajzi also doubted the professional competence and investigative capabilities of the CHRAJ because according to her, Ms. Bossman had described her as 'one Gizelle Yajzi' as well as gotten her nationality wrong though she refused to disclose her actual nationality to Radio Gold, claiming that was a private affair the disclosure of which would enhance alleged attempts to kill her by her enemies! She intimated she was rather sending her case before the leaders of the G-8 Countries. Weeks earlier she had threatened to put her case before Transparency International.

She however indicated her readiness to appear before a Ghanaian Parliamentary Committee to provide evidence to support her version of what she alleges transpired during her involvement in the negotiation for the acquisition of the uncompleted hotel building. Madam Yajzi's line of thinking interestingly coincides with the position of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its host of spin doctors, political turn-coats, social commentators, serial callers, media propagandists and perpetual agitators who have all come out to challenge the jurisdiction and mandate of CHRAJ to conduct the preliminary investigations it is presently undertaking into the 'Hotel Kufuor' saga.

In a press statement released to the media on June 4, 2005, the NDC Minority in Parliament, “questioned the propriety of CHRAJ conducting investigations into the controversial purchase of a Hotel by either the President or his son, 'Chief' John Addo Kufuor”.

The NDC Minority in Parliament's statement which was signed for its leader, Hon. Alban Bagbin, contended that the CHRAJ as presently composed did not satisfy the constitutional provisions that set it up.

The statement referred to Article 216(a)(b) which provides that “there shall be established by Act of Parliament within six months after Parliament first meets after the coming into force of this Constitution, a Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice which shall consist of (a) a Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice; and (b) two Deputy Commissioners for Human Rights and Administrative Justice”.

“…with the Chairperson of the Commission, Mr. Emile Short away on international assignment and the recent retirement of Deputy Commissioner, Mr. B.K. Oppong, it remained only one Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Anna Bossman at post who is also acting as Chairperson. The Commission does not meet the constitutional requirements of its composition to carry out its mandate”, argued the NDC's Parliamentary group.

The NDC also argued that “its experience with the Commission did not inspire faith that CHRAJ will do a thorough job with this investigation”.

They recalled a petition the NDC Minority presented to CHRAJ calling for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the renovation of the President's private residence, and claimed that “in a clear abdication of its mandate, CHARJ threw out the application on a technicality without going into the merits of the matter”.

They therefore insisted that “in all circumstances of this case, the Minority is of the view that a multi-partisan Parliamentary Committee is better suited to conduct an inquiry into the matter”.

In a previous reaction to the NDC statement, Ms. Bossman underscored that investigations of cases by CHRAJ are not handled by the Commissioners themselves but by competent investigators and legal officers.

She indicated further that in the regions, regional directors of the Commission sit to hear cases without Commissioners. She said CHRAJ is a fact-finding body and in line with that, it will resolutely go ahead and establish facts before deciding on whether or not to start a full scale investigation into the matter, adding that the Commission is not politically inclined and therefore would not budge to any pressure from any quarters.

Meanwhile, a Legal Expert has dismissed the NDC's position that the CHRAJ lacked jurisdiction to conduct investigations into the 'Hotel Kufuor' saga just because it presently doesn't have the full complement of its membership as “infantile” and “pig-headed”.

He (identity withheld for now) said there was no where either in the 1992 Constitution or Act 456 or the constitutional instrument (CI) 7 which guides the procedures for investigations by CHRAJ that requires the full complement of CHRAJ's membership as a pre-requisite for the exercise of its constitutional mandate of investigations of anybody or entity.

He challenged the NDC to proceed to challenge what CHRAJ is doing at the Supreme Court if indeed it (NDC) genuinely felt what Ms. Bossman and company are doing now constitute an illegality or an unconstitutionality, and “stop wasting everybody's time and ears at press conferences, on radio and in the newspapers. Let them help grow our democracy and uphold the tenets of rule of law by making a case at the Court of Law. Period”, he charged.

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