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Feature Article of Monday, 30 January 2012

Columnist: Atugiya, David

Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) should clarify its role

It is very disturbing to see the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) give the impression as though it is doing the bidding of the opposition NPP by the way it has conducted itself in the Woyome saga. The various radio interviews and commentaries given by the GII on the Woyome’s saga have left some of us wondering its role.

GII a local chapter of Transparency International which is seen in the eyes of many Ghanaians as offering an impartial advocacy service of holding public servants to be transparent and accountable, cannot afford to be perceived as being bias in the Woyome’s case which has engulfed the government and the country.

The President of Ghana, in his attempts to provide answers to Ghanaians since the Woyome’s saga broke, commissioned the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) to investigate all the issues of judgment debt payment to Woyome and others. A clear terms of reference has been given to the EOCO and their investigations have earnestly commenced. And therefore all and sundry including GII should by now have seized hopping from one radio station to the other making prejudicial commends on the case.

It’s therefore incomprehensible or inconceivable that GII will organise a hastily press conference in the middle of an investigation process ordered by the President of land; demanding the President to come out with what he knows about the Woyome’s case and the developments that led to the removal of the former Attorney-General, Mr. Martin Amidu and the resignation of his predecessor, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu.

First of all, if the President had knowledge in one way or the other about the Woyome’s case, the obvious question to GII is why the President would have ordered that the case be investigated by the EOCO. Secondly, to dispel any lingering doubts about his knowledge or otherwise of the matter, in answering a question posed by a journalist on Monday, 9 January 2012 at the seat of government Castle-Osu, he was emphatic that he had no knowledge nor ordered the payment of the judgment debt to Woyome.

With the action taken by the President thus ordering the investigation of the matter and in front of the Ghanaian press and the whole world denying knowledge or ordering payment of the judgment debt to Woyome; GII and the likes should in all openness, fairness and objectivity, give the President the benefit of the doubt and allow the investigative process to run its natural and just course.

It is really unfair and against natural justice that people or institutions who should know better attempt to conjecture or create the impression that President Mills and its government intents cover up things.

One may disagree but can understand why the NPP or other political parties would want to be opportunists and take undue advantage of the Woyome’s case to maximize their electoral fortunes especially in an election year. But it is unpardonable for organisations such as GII to indulge in such unacceptable behavior.

Why are GII and the likes not in equal measures take on the NPP politicians to submit themselves to the EOCO investigations and stop thwarting the President and EOCO efforts by running to take cover in the law Courts.

Again, if Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) is demanding answers from President Mills on the sacking of Mr. Martin Amidu, why are they not calling on the former Attorney General to substantiate his explosive statement of allegations of ‘gargantuan crime’ against mother Ghana by people within or who have access to the government.

It is also distasteful and most unfortunate the manner in which GII and the likes are desperately trying to link the dismissal of Mr. Amidu and the resignation of Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu to the Woyome saga.

One cannot comprehend why GII is so sure of the unsubstantiated allegations made by the former Attorney General (AG) Mr. Martin Amidu but doubts the sincerity and the actions taken by President Mills to provide answers to the very questions posed by GII in their hastily headline grabbing press statement.

Similarly, it defies logic that GII and its ilk could not or cannot see that the outburst of the former AG in the public whether with or without the prior knowledge of his employer, though bold and honorable was a sackable offence. President Mills was within his constitutional and employment rights as echoed by the Ghana Bar Association in its press statement, to have dismissed the former AG as an unruly employee. The AG ought to have resigned immediately after his press conference because his position or continuous stay in the government was untenable.

Infact, if even the former AG was not sacked, it would have been against natural justice for him to have publicly accused some individuals and be allowed to bring those individuals to book; since he was no longer seen to be impartial by his actions.

GII also has no basis for calling on President Mills to stop the EOCO investigations into the Woyome’s case since the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is also conducting its investigations into the matter. GII reasons for calling on the President Mills to halt the EOCO investigations are absurd and preposterous.

There are no legal or moral issues that should prevent two parallel investigations taking place in the Woyome’s case. This springs to mind the press hacking scandal in the UK, which led the Prime Minister of the UK ordering a commission of inquiry into the matter, while at the same time the Police are conducting their separate criminal investigations.

GII should not been seen to be joining the NPP and other individuals to show gross disrespect to the President of the land. Demanding accountability and transparency from the President is one thing, but showing gross disrespect towards the President of land is not or cannot in any circumstances be acceptable.

My advice to GII is that, they should be seen to be playing a neutral role and be patient for the outcome of the investigations by EOCO. Anything short of this, GII will discredit and do damage to its image as a transparency organisation.

David Atugiya

The author is a Human Rights and Social Justice Campaigner, Finance and Management Consultant; Specialist in NGO and Millennium Awards Fellow.

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