General News of Tuesday, 21 June 2016
The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), says it has initiated steps that could lead to an investigation of President John Dramani Mahama, following the receipt of two petitions pertaining to the Ford Expedition gift given to him by a Burkinabe contractor.
The two petitions were forwarded to the Commission by the youth league of the Convention People’s Party, (CPP) and another complainant, a private individual. The petitions, according to the Commission, made claims of conflict of interest against the President.
Speaking to Citi News’ Umaru Sanda Amadu, a Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, said, “I can confirm that the commission has received a complaint, or an allegation, in written form from the national youth league of the CPP at 10:55 AM… Another petition has come in from an individual called Nana Adofo Ofori.”
Mr. Whittal indicated that the petitioners “contend that it is a matter that is a conflict of interest for the president, so we [CHRAJ] should investigate and come out with our findings to clarify the air for Ghanaians and we are set to do that.” Explaining the process that CHRAJ would adopt to initiate investigations, the Deputy Commissioner explained that, it was anchored by chapter 24, article 284 of the constitution.
“The moment we get the petition, we should first assess it to see if it is proper and triggering our mandate under chapter 24, we should write to the person concerned, in this case the President, whether he admits to the contravention or non-compliance allegations made against him, and if he does not admit, then we have to cause an investigation to be carried out and that is where we are now.”
Mr. Whittal added that, the process would not take long, noting that, the commission had already commenced their initial assessment of the petitions, to make sure that “it meets certain requirements under their constitutional instruments for investigating complaints.”
“If that is clear, the first thing will be to forward the allegation or complaint to the subject matter of investigation,” he added.
CHRAJ has jurisdiction to investigate President
Article 57, Chapter 5 of the constitution indicates that the President shall not be personally liable to any civil or criminal proceedings in court.
But Mr. Whittal explained that, that section of the constitution does not pertain to the jurisdiction of CHRAJ.
“It [Article 57, Chapter 5] is for civil or criminal liability in court, but not the investigations of CHRAJ so we have the jurisdiction. We have done it in the past and we will continue to do that. The code of conduct chapter is aware of the provisions you have quoted but it still allows the commissioner to go ahead and investigate all public officers. It did not make an exception to the presidency,” he explained.
Former president Kufuor also dragged before CHRAJ
President Mahama will not be the first sitting President dragged before CHRAJ over bribery allegations.
Former President John Kufuor was caught in a similar situation during his administration after it was alleged that he used state resources to renovate his residence at Airport in Accra.