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23.02.2006 General News

Anane Paid Newspapers Not To Publish Stories

By Graphic

The Editor in Chief of The Enquirer newspaper, Mr Raymond Archer, has told the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) that some newspapers received money from the Minister of Road Transport, Dr Richard Anane, in order not to publish stories about him and Ms Alexandria O'Brien.

He said he got to know that when he questioned Ms O'Brien as to why none of the newspapers which had contacted her on her relationship with Dr Anane prior to his (Archer's) investigations, had not published any of the information.

He said Ms O'Brien told him that Dr Anane had paid off the journalists who had contacted her in order not to publish the story.

Mr Archer said this as a witness during the public hearings into allegations of corruption, abuse of office and misuse of power against Dr Anane in Accra yesterday.

He was being cross-examined by lead counsel for the minister, Mr Jacob Acquah-Sampson.

The subject for cross-examination was a publication in the February 14 to 15 issue of The Voice newspaper, in which it was claimed that Ms O'Brien had conceded that she was telling lies in most of her allegations about Dr Anane.

Mr Acquah-Sampson asked the witness whether he did not think it necessary, with the foreknowledge of the contents of the article and as an investigative journalist, to clarify her claims in The Voice.

Although Mr Archer said he had foreknowledge of the article, he explained that he did not question Ms O'Brien about her claims of lying in the paper because he was of the opinion that it was not substantive to the issue he was investigating.

He also denied claims in the same publication that he had alleged to someone referred to as Kweku Appiah, in a recorded conversation, that someone known as Nana Konadu had alerted her security apparatus to get information on Dr Anane and Ms O'Brien.

When Mr Acquah-Sampson suggested that Nana Konadu, as was referred to in the article, was the former First Lady, the witness said he would not know, since he did not make any of those claims to anyone called Mr Kweku Appiah.

Counsel also questioned Mr Archer on a recorded conversation which formed the basis of the story in The Voice, in which Mr Archer was alleged to have met Mr Kweku Appiah and asked him to furnish him with any evidence of transfers made by Dr Anane to Ms O'Brien, “even if it was one dollar”.

Mr Acquah-Sampson said Mr Archer deemed it necessary to meet with Kweku Appiah because he had petitioned Parliament not to approve Dr Anane's appointment as a minister, with no evidence attached to his petition, and was, therefore, desperate to find that evidence to justify his petition to Parliament and the articles he had written.

He added that Mr Archer had even made a public confirmation of the fact that he had no evidence to support his petition to Parliament on a Joy FM programme when the moderator, Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta, asked if he had evidence.

Responding, Mr Archer said he received an unsolicited call during his investigation on Dr Anane from someone who claimed he was calling from the United States and had information on the issue.

He said the person then told him that he would make someone else contact him and give him the information.

Mr Archer said soon after that, someone called Joe Reggie called him and introduced himself as the person who was supposed to furnish him with information.

He conceded that he had asked Joe Reggie to furnish him with transcripts of transfers made by Dr Anane to Ms O'Brien, “even if it was a cent”, since he was interested in the issue of proving how a public servant was making financial commitments over and above his salary.

Mr Archer said although he did not make any recordings of the conversation he had with Joe Reggie, he realised that each time they met, articles appeared in newspapers such as the Daily Guide and The Voice attributing to him certain false comments made to someone called Mr Kweku Appiah.

He was emphatic that he had really met someone called Joe Reggie and not Kweku Appiah, as the newspapers alleged.

Mr Archer said he had responded in the negative to a question as to whether he had evidence that Dr Anane had transferred $90,000 to Ms O'Brien, since records showed that the money had not all been given at the same time but in instalments.

Mr Acquah-Sampson then sought to question Mr Archer on the June 30-July 3, 2005 and March 24 - 30 issues of The Enquirer with the headlines, “Saying one thing and doing another --- Shut up, Dr Anane” and “In the matter of Dr Anane's vetting; our story, his claims and the untold truth,” but the witness declined, saying that he was out of the country when those stories were written and, therefore, he could not answer questions concerning them.

Concluding, Mr Acquah-Sampson said all the publications of Mr Archer about Dr Anane's relationship with Ms O'Brien were unjustifiably critical of the minister and sought to prevent his reappointment.