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22.08.2005 General News

‘Hotel Kufuor’ Investigator in controversy

The Statesman

DURING Radio Gold's “Alhaji & Alhaji” programme last Saturday, the host, Alhaji Bature Iddrisu read this text message:

“Friends of the Truth, where are U going to put the goalpost now. Is it May 9 or the VIP Stand, shame. Kramo”

The host then announced to the world that the actual sender of the message was Charles Ayamdoo, who, the host added, could not have been aware that the host had saved his mobile number after a call last week.

This came as a bombshell. Mr Ayamdoo is the Deputy Director, Anti-Corruption, at the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice. He is, therefore, the chief investigator for the 'Hotel Kufuor' case. In fact, this could have more than confirmed the view of the opposition National Democratic Congress that the constitutional body could not be trusted to undertake an impartial investigation on the case.

However, a shocked Mr Ayamdoo has described the incident as a “vicious, awful and mischievous” attempt to besmirch him and CHRAJ.

The mobile number that sent the text is 024 4531 394. Alhaji Bature showed the text to our Editor-in-Chief during the radio programme and the number had been saved under the name 'Ayamdoo.' Kofi Kramo, 41, of Madina, who answered from the same Areeba number, has told The Statesman that he was, indeed, the sender of the above text on Saturday. “I sent the same text to Radio Gold on 024 4962 020 Friday morning and Robert Nii Arday Clegg read it and he was even laughing,” said Mr Kramo. He added that he had only heard of the name Ayamdoo but did not know the CHRAJ investigator in person.

Mr Kramo describes himself as a 'serial texter', who, alongside his wife, Faustie, sends SMS to Peace, Adom and other radio stations during such programmes.

But, Alhaji Bature, who is the leader of the group Friends of the Truth, denies the suspicion that he deliberately inserted the name 'Ayamdoo' to cause serious damage to the integrity of the CHRAJ investigation.

His group had been embarrassed when Gizelle Yazji, the woman they were helping to come and give evidence to CHRAJ about the ownership of the hotel failed to turn up as she made the whole country believe. The group is commonly seen as hostile to the Government. On the specific case before CHRAJ, they believe there is some truth to be unearthed to support allegations of corruption and President Kufuor's equitable interest in the property.

Alhaji Bature insists Mr Ayamdoo had used that 024 4531 394 number to call him on Wednesday, August 10, to arrange a meeting with his group over Ms Yazji's anticipated appearance before CHRAJ as a witness. Yet, the finger of suspicion is narrowing on him.

“I'm not stupid. And I won't be that mischievous over such a serious issue. This man, Ayamdoo, called me on that phone. I knew we had to open channels of conversation, so I just saved it.”

While he admits to calling Bature, Mr Ayamdoo says he could only have called him either from his own mobile phone or his office line. Roland Acquah-Stevens of Radio Gold has an Areeba number for Mr Ayamdoo, different from the one alleged by Bature but same as the one claimed by Mr Ayamdoo. Mr Ayamdoo expresses surprise at Alhaji Bature for not cross-checking with him before going on air with the allegation. This, he thinks creates suspicion of a deliberate attempt to besmear him and CHRAJ.

“I don't even keep a radio at home. And I don't have one in my office,” says Mr Ayamdoo, who was in his office when Mr Acquah-Stevens and The Statesman contacted him on Saturday.

In another twist to the tale, Mr Kramo says Alhaji Bature had called him Saturday, August 6, after he sent an SMS to Alhaji's programme inquiring why, unlike other current affairs programmes, “Alhaji & Alhaji,” did not maintain set phone numbers.

“That day, Alhaji gave his personal mobile number on air for messages so I sent the text to that number and saved the number,” says Mr Kramo.

Alhaji Bature confirms receiving such a text message and following it up with a call. “I knew it was from an avid listener and because I respect my loyal listeners, I spoke to that person and explained that the station was not providing us with any numbers that's why we kept changing. That was about two weeks ago though. I got the call from Ayamdoo after that - about 10 days ago.” However, Alhaji Bature says he cannot remember 'Kramo' being the name of the man he called two weeks ago. Kramo says he called the radio host back the next day. “My wife even called him back,” he adds.

In spite of Mr Kramo's admission, Alhaji Bature alleges that Mr Ayamdoo must have different mobile numbers, including 024 4531 394.

“It's not true,” he says, to a charge that he falsely saved the CHRAJ officer's name with the text to turn the heat of credibility-loss from Friends of the Truth to CHRAJ.

But, Mr Ayamdoo finds Alhaji Bature's behaviour unacceptable. “This is very vicious, shocking. I'm very, very innocent. This is unfair. I hear Kwesi Pratt was calling for my resignation. I can't really blame him, considering the seriousness of the allegation. But, I'm a professional. This is very, very awful,” laments the man who has been with CHRAJ from the onset in 1993. Mr Kramo says his identity is not in dispute. He says he is a sculptor from Kwahu-Tafo. “Everybody knows me at Madina. I'm just a tiny guy, not a big guy.”