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General News of Sunday, 22 September 2019


Short Commission Report: Akufo Addo is confused – Lawyer

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Justice Srem Sai has explained that President Akufo-Addo has profusely confused a recommendation with a finding, leading to his rejection of more than 50% of the Emile Short Commission’s findings and recommendations.

The Harvard-trained lawyer argued that it is legally wrong for government through its White Paper to reject findings because a “finding is a product of a judicial process” and therefore the President can’t reject it because he has no authority to exercise judicial power.

For him, only the Court of Appeal as per the Constitution of Ghana can review findings of a Commission of Inquiry.

He admits, however, that the President has the power to reject recommendations since they are appeals to the President to act in certain ways, and therefore, merely political.

The President through its White Paper has rejected nearly 60% of recommendations and findings of the Justice Emile Short Commission that looked into the violence that occurred at the by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency earlier this year.

For example, government’s white paper has rejected findings that the shooting incident happened close to a polling station, and that the SWAT team was deployed to the electoral grounds for the purposes of electoral security.

But the erudite lawyer avers that government has no such authority to reject findings given that the Short Commission is a quasi-judicial constitutional whose findings against individuals are judicial in nature, denying the president any authority to reject its findings, and also that the Constitution of Ghana gives such powers to only the Court of Appeal.

Full statement here:

The President seems to have mistaken the Short Commission for one of his numerous investigative committees that he often sets up in his office. By way of a reminder, a Commission of Inquiry is a constitutional judicial body whose adverse findings against individuals, when published, apply as a court judgement.

Indeed, the law allows the President to reject the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry. In doing so, the President may, through a White Paper, give reasons. What the President has done in the Short case, however, is profusely confuse a recommendation with a finding.

A finding is a product of a judicial processes. It derives from the the judicial power that the Constitution confers on the Commission. A recommendation, on the other hand, is what the Commission entreats the President to do with its findings. A recommendation is, therefore, merely political (not judicial).

Being political, the President can reject a recommendation and, then, give a policy reason for doing so. What the President is not entitled to do, however, is constitute himself into an appellate judicial body over the Commission, reviewing the merit of its findings or reversing them. There are two reasons for this:

1. The Commission, as I’ve already said, is a quasi-judicial constitutional body whose adverse findings against individuals are judicial in nature. The President has no authority to exercise judicial power let alone a final one in this regard. 2. The Constitution expressly reserves such appellate judicial powers for the Court of Appeal (not the President).

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