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24.02.2006 General News

Lithur declines appearance before Committee

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Accra, Feb 24, GNA - Mr Tony Lithur, a witness before the Privileges Committee of Parliament, on Friday declined further appearance before the committee until he has availed himself of Article 287 of the Constitution.

Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, counsel for Mr Lithur, has earlier objected to the chairmanship of Mr Freddie Blay, citing a case of conflict of interest, which the committee overruled.

Mr Lithur, who is counsel for Mr Edward Doe Adjaho in the case of "Mr Doe Adjaho versus Speaker and the Attorney-General" appeared before the committee to help it investigate circumstances under which a letter purported to have been written by him was directed to the Speaker of Parliament.

In the said letter, Mr Lithur was believed to have made some assertions that were referred to the committee to ascertain whether it constituted as "contempt of Parliament."

Counsel for Mr Lithur told the committee that the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Blay was likely to be biased towards his client. Dr Kunbour said the witness was counsel for Nana Agyeman Konadu Rawlings in the case of "Nana Agyeman Konadu Rawlings versus Ato Sam alias Baby Ansahba, Mrs Gina Blay and Western Publications," which is before an Accra Fast Track Court.

He said Mrs Gina Blay is the wife of Mr Blay and also Mr Blay had vested interest in Western Publications.

Dr Kunbour said he doubted that Mr Blay would not be impartial and therefore invoked Article 284 of the Constitution to seek Mr Blay exclusion in the proceedings of the committee.

The committee overruled Dr Kunbour's objection, saying that it was frivolous and vexatious.

The committee said the witness (Mr Lithur) was only a counsel in the cited case and therefore cannot be deemed as being a party to the case.

It also ruled that according to the Standing Orders, procedures and practise of the House, the First Deputy Speaker, which in this case was Mr Blay, was the only legible officer to preside over the Privileges Committee.

Mr Blay assured the witness that he would be fair and that he had only one vote and did not believe that he could use his position to influence members of the committee who were mature and discerning. Dr Kunbour further came under Article 287, saying that the witness would have to avail himself of the privileges offered by that Article and in view of that they are unable to continue to appear before the committee.

He said his witness would formally apply to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

Mr Blay said the committee would continue to perform the task given it by the House to investigate whether or not the letter written by Mr Lithur on behalf of Mr Doe Adjaho, Deputy Minority Leader and his client constituted "Contempt of Parliament".

"Since the witness is not ready to co-operate with the committee we would deliberate to see whether it is contempt of Parliament or not." Mr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, a Deputy Attorney-General, had raised concerns on the floor of Parliament about serving of a writ on the Speaker of Parliament and a subsequent letter to the Speaker authored by Mr Lithur.

The Speaker therefore referred the letter to the Privileges Committee to investigate. 24 Feb 06