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10.06.2005 General News

CHRAJ, NDC Clash On ‘Hotel Kufuor’


Minority, Tony Aidoo Are Wrong

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the NDC are caught up in a gridlock over whether CHRAJ should go ahead with its intent to probe the 'Hotel Kufuor' saga, with CHRAJ Acting-Commissioner, Ms Anna Bossman, insisting that they will disregard the concerns expressed by the Minority and move on with their constitutional mandate.

Speaking to this paper in a phone interview yesterday, Ms. Bossman dismissed claims by both the Minority Group in Parliament and NDC hatchet man and firebrand, Dr Tony Aidoo, that CHRAJ has no 'locus' on the matter.

In her view, CHRAJ is the properly authorized body to look into matters of conflict of interest and allegations of possible corruption.

CHRAJ will therefore go ahead with its decision to do preliminary enquiries to ascertain whether the issue falls within its jurisdiction and whether it indeed merits a probe, following which it would then institute formal investigations into the hotel saga, she indicated.

She described as untrue allegations by Dr. Tony Aidoo that she was a friend of the President, expressing concern over how Dr. Aidoo, whom she did not know, could make such firm assertions under the cover of it being an allegation on radio.

She also denied being an NPP member, insisting when pushed by the Managing Editor of this paper, that she was apolitical. If anything at, all she could best be described as an Nkrumahist since her father was a diplomat under the late Dr Nkrumah's administration, she confessed.

She also denied any direct blood relation to Tourism Minister, Mr Jake Otanka Obestsebi-Lamptey.

According to her, the only relation she ever has with Jake is by marriage, since Mr. Obestsebi-Lamptey used to be married to her sister, who died 25 years ago in 1980.

Explaining further, she said the Minority got their facts wrong on the allegation of bias on the part of CHRAJ in the probe into the renovation of the residence of President Kufuor.

She said contrary to the assertion by the Minority, it was rather their leader, Hon, Alban Sumanu Bagbin, who pulled out of the case when he was asked to proceed, with the excuse that he could not do so without his lawyer and former Kumbungu MP, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, being present.

This was in-spite of the fact the date was fixed for hearing with the consent of his lawyer following the difficulty in getting the parties involved to settle on a date.

She said since it had taken a lot of time and commitment to get the parties involved to agree on that date, CHRAJ informed Bagbin that the case would be struck out if he was unwilling to cross-examine the other party.

Following Bagbin's refusal to go ahead with the cross examination, CHRAJ had no option but to discontinue the case for lack of prosecution on the part of Bagbin and not failure on CHRAJ's part to investigate the matter, she said, adding that the records are all there to prove this point.

Speaking on the hotel saga on Radio Gold last Saturday, Dr Tony Aidoo, a former Deputy Minister for Defence, alleged that Ms. Bossman is a close friend of President Kufuor, a relative of Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, and an apologist of the ruling NPP. He also questioned the constitutional basis of any probe by CHRAJ.

“We know that the only one deputy commissioner, who is there, is acting. So, in terms of the constitutional prescription of a proper constitution of the CHRAJ, for the purpose of conducting this exercise, CHRAJ is not properly constituted. “Having the mandate to investigate also includes exercising that mandate in a manner that is procedurally acceptable.

“The Commission is not properly constituted; a kind of balance of opinion that is expected, because the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom said that there must be three commissioners. So that in the event of disagreement, the presumption is that at least if two agree, the two may be more right than the one.”

On the eve of the same Saturday Tony Aidoo blasted CHRAJ, the Minority in Parliament issued a press statement questioning the propriety of CHRAJ conducting investigations into the acquisition of the hotel near the residence of the president by Chief Kufuor, the oldest son of President Kufuor.

The Minority based their reservations on the fact that the Act 216 (a)(b) of the 1992 Constitution provided for a commissioner and two deputy commissioners.

They said since the Chairman of CHRAJ, Justice Emile Short, was away on an international assignment, with Deputy Commissioner, Mr B. K. Oppong, on retirement, CHRAJ did not meet the constitutional requirements of its composition to carry out its mandate.

The Minority added that CHRAJ threw out a petition to investigate the circumstances surrounding the renovation of the President's private residence on technical grounds, and that did not inspire in them confidence in CHRAJ's ability to properly probe the purchase of the hotel by Chief Kufuor.