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05.04.2006 General News

CHRAJ should come clean on Gizelle -Bagbin

By The Heritage

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Alban Bagbin says the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has a daunting task to explain to Ghanaians why it could not invite former government advisor, Gizelle Yajzi to testify before the commission in the case against President Kufuor.

All is set for the woman, Alexandra O'Brien, considered as a star witness in the corruption allegation against the Road Transport Minister, Richard Anane to give her evidence via video conferencing today (Wednesday) facilitated by the Commission.

Mr Bagbin said CHRAJ's current disposition vis-à-vis its selection and adjudication of cases may give credence perception that it has been co-opted by government instead of acting as a true and independent body.

The minority leader who is also MP for Nadowli West asked the commission to come clean as to the procedures and processes it applies to the cases that come before it.

“We the people will need to know what are the criteria, rules and processes governing its operations in the Hotel Kufuor issue,” he said.

Commenting on the delay occasioned by the commission in releasing the preliminary reports on the investigations into the 'Hotel Kufuor saga', Alban says the perception about the Commission's bias is finding credence in the way it is conducting some of its cases.

He said the minority is not surprised that the commission is yet to release its preliminary report on its investigations into the President's involvement in the purchase of the hotel in question.

“ These constitutional bodies have been neutralized by government and are now more inclined to behaving like institutions, supportive of a particular party in power than acting as autonomous independent constitutional commission which are meant to hold government accountable.

The Minority Leader said explanations given by the CHRAJ on that it only conducted a preliminary investigation and therefore did not necessarily need the evidence of Ms Yajzi was unsatisfactory.

He said in the case against the road transport minister, the commission is adopting a different approach as it is prepared to put at the disposal of another witness, facilities that can lead the witness to testify within or outside Ghana.

“ Why in one case this could be done and in another, it could not be done. The explanation by the commission that one was preliminary and the other is panel hearing is unconstitutional and unconvincing,” he said.

According to the minority leader, in preliminary hearing, one would have to get firm basis to come to the conclusion that there is a prima facie case established before going ahead with the panel hearing.

“At this stage you cannot shut off other witnesses. Before you come to the conclusion to the fact that there is a prima facie case for the person to be called upon to answer, you must look at all the evidence available to you.

You cannot leave out some and expect that you can arrive at prima facie case, you will need to get evidence from all the available avenues.

The Commission ought to hear from Ms Yajzi because she is a key witness in the case,” he said.

The minority leader maintained that the appropriate place for such matters to be investigated is Parliament instead of leaving it to CHRAJ to handle.