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General News of Saturday, 23 March 2019

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Paul lobbied to appear on AWW Commission – Kofi Abotsi reveals

Paul Adom Otchere sought the intervention of an influential person to be heard on the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission, former Executive Secretary, Ernest Kofi Abotsi, has revealed.

He revealed also that Mr Adom Otchere met with the Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Justice Francis Emile Short, who had attempted to convince him [Paul] to shelve his intention to speak publicly – before the cameras.

But the TV host insisted on making a public appearance on the Commission tasked with unravelling the violence that marred the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.

”Before he even appeared on the Commission... the Chairman of the Commission, having assessed the circumstances of this coming, among others, actually engaged him [Paul] that in the scheme of things, he should probably not testify at all...I was reached out to by the same third-party intermediary in respect of this urging that at least he should be given audience because he was still trying to appear...” Mr Abotsi revealed on Newsfile, Saturday.

This revelation follows Paul Adom Otchere’s seeming disagreement with an earlier comment by Mr Abotsi regarding why the Commission declined to hear the testimony of the TV presenter.

On Monday, the legal practitioner had told PM Express on JOYNEWS that Mr Adom Otchere did not tick any of the boxes described as “factors of relevance.”

However, in a sharp rebuttal on his TV show last Thursday, Mr Adom Otchere disagreed with Mr Abotsi because he had been described by letter sent to him by the Commission as a ‘material witness’.

He said the first line of that letter stated that “I write formally to you as a material witness…”

“I didn’t make that determination, I didn’t know they were going to write to me; I was following the Commission’s proceedings; I was happy that they wrote to me, but I didn’t know that Kofi Abotsi will write to me,” Paul Adom Otchere said on his show.

However, reacting to Mr Adom Otchere’s comments, he told host Samson Lardy Anyenini that the Commission and his person have “zero interest in anybody who appears but in the scheme of things, everyone would have to be processed along rational principles.”

“Mr Paul Adom Otchere fell within the category of persons who reached out to the Commission. In other words, Mr Paul Adom Otchere reached out to the Commission through somebody, which I don’t have to disclose, and this is public record. The good thing is that there are text messages to this effect.

“Therefore if you reach out to the Commission, as an inquisitorial body, the Commission is interested in every evidence that will help it in its fact-finding mission within the time constraints. So he was allowed to come,” Kofi Abotsi said.

Mr Abotsi explained the reason behind the use of ‘material witness’ to describe Mr Adom Otchere.

“Any witness that appears at a court or a judicial body must be a material witness. It is a descriptive term of act. Because if you are not a material witness then who are you?

“Let’s face it, all Commissions of Inquiry, ordinarily are interested in everybody who has something to say. That is why they open it and say it is the public. Anybody who has something to say you are contributing to the process so the Commission is interested in everybody who has something to say. Anybody who has something to say is a material witness.”

Mr Abotsi also explained the key relevance tests for the witnesses:

“Once you reach out and the Commission gives you the platform that means you are telling the Commission presumptively that you have a story. The Commission is interested in your story. However, the Commission has three main indicia (distinguishing signs) for checking.

“1. You must either be, for relevancy purpose, somebody who actually participated in the events, or [2] you did not participate but you are either in the command or control, if it is a force, or you were in a supervisory responsibility if it is work. The media, a lot of you were in this supervisory responsibility. And then there is a third category of being an expert. These were there already. If you decide to appear, the Commission will still review your testimony along one of these lines.

“Now, that will be done when you are before the Commission. So as you are speaking, the Commission can make an assessment as they go along,” he said.

Mr Abotsi explained further that after the initial relevance test questions were put to Adom Otchere, the three Commissioners – Justice Emile Short, Prof Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu and a former Inspector-General of Police, Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong – decided that they had to let him go.



The following is a transcript of the under four-minute proceeding between Mr Adom Ochere and the Commissioners:

Counsel for Commission: Do you have any video or pictures that you think will be helpful to the Commission?

Paul Adom Otchere: Yes we do have videos for the commission that I have on a pen drive and present to the commission. These are videos which were captured by Metro TV cameras exclusively.

Counsel for Commission: Have you presented them?

Paul Adom Otchere: Erh. They are not but I could get them within a very short time.

Counsel for Commission: How short

Paul Adom Otchere: Today

Counsel for Commission: Okay we are sure that by close of day today we will have all materials in your possession?

Paul Adom Otchere: Yes, video materials

HANDS OVER TO CHAIRMAN

Chairman: Who took those videos

Paul Adom Otchere: It was Metro TV cameras

Chairman: Can you tell us exactly who took the videos

Paul Adom Otchere: Our camera crew. They are a lot of people about five, six different people. We have used some of them publicly but we haven’t used some of them. So we will submit all of them.

Chairman: Apart from the videos, do you have any other materials relating to the elections which was held at this particular constituency

Paul Adom Otchere: No. We are a television company so our main raw materials is television.

Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu: Thank you very much Mr. Paul Adom Otchere. Unfortunately, because we haven’t seen the video it makes it difficult to ask anything and you were not an eye witness either. I really wish you had brought the video. Then we would have been in a position to ask questions about things that were not clear.

But as things are, I have nothing unclear to clarify. So I will pass up at this time.

Chairman: Thank you very much we will expect the videos that you have and we will watch them and take them into consideration. You can go.