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Opinions of Thursday, 24 February 2011

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Ama Benyiwah Doe and the Ex. Is he dead or alive?

Questions for
Mr Dennis Doe-Vormavor

I have read a number of articles and news reports on the saga surrounding the alleged murder/death or whereabouts of Mr Jerry Oscar Komla Doe since Mr Dennis Doe-Vormavor, who claims to be his nephew publicly accused Mrs Comfort Ama Benyiwah Doe of murdering her ex-husband. What is worrying is not only that there are linconsistencies in the story but what is also disturbing is that Mr Doe–Vermavor is no ordinary person but someone with LLB, MA Political Science as well as the Interim Chairman of a group calling itself “Ghanaians Abroad Against Corruption”. It is my interest in Human Rights, including the right to fair trial and representation, the inconsistencies and the fact that, Mr Doe-Vermavor appears to use the electronic media to seek justice or misuse it for injustice that have prompted me to ask him a few questions. I am sure the reading public would also be interested in some answers from him. I must declare that I knew Mrs Doe in Ghana in the 1980s but I am not here to defend her. She has her own legal team in Ghana.

In his article entitled “Ama Benyiwa Doe Must Face Justice”, Mr Doe-Vermavor stated that and I quote “I say with astonishment and extreme anger that Honourable Minister Benyiwa Doe has had the effrontery to deny through her lawyers to the Ghana Media Commission that she did not kill her husband with poisonous substance. In fact, in her effort to try and deny her iniquitous act, she failed to explain to Ghanaians how she killed my uncle (Mr Doe) if not through poison”. The question for Doe-Vermavor who publicly displays LLB against his mane is, if she has already denied killing her husband as you stated in the above quote, how do you expect her to explain something that according to her she did not do it or did not happen? Are you inferring from her denial to mean that she had admitted the alleged crime but not by poisoning? If that is the case, where in her statement, did she say so or imply that?

Again, in the same article and I quote, “I have also spoken to Mrs Arkoh (a Ghanaian) in London who was the Senior Nurse on duty during the post-mortem of my late Uncle Mr Doe in Nigeria and is also willing to come down to testify of what she knows about the death of Mr Doe ......”. First and foremost, as someone with knowledge in law, you should know that if the post-mortem proved that the cause of death was poisoning, that is not proof of who was culpable, unless there is evidence which links the crime to someone. I infer from your articles that your claim is based on circumstantial evidence. In other words, if your late uncle did die from poisoning, then there is the higher probability that the wife might have poisoned him (since according to you, the wife was unhappy because the husband had had a child with another woman). If I am right, then your claim is an allegation and not proof that Mrs Ama Benyiwah Does poisoned her ex-husband. In that case, she is only a suspect (perhaps what the lawyers would say “the prime suspect”) and therefore she is innocent until proven guilty. Indeed, you confirmed my conclusion in the article and again I quote from it, “Ironically, I believe that many Ghanaians are still surprised to hear more (of) this unfolding story concerning the death of my uncle (Mr Doe) who was allegedly poisoned in Nigeria by his wife, Mrs Benyiwah Doe ....”. So if you are making an allegation why do you appear to be making definitive accusation against Ama Benyiwah Doe as if she is already guilty?

Regarding your claim that Mrs Arkoh, the Senior Nurse on duty during the post-mortem is willing to testify of what she knew, it is also not strong enough to prove the guilt or otherwise of whoever was responsible for the alleged poisoning or murder of your uncle. First, if she was the nurse on duty during the post-mortem it is possible that she did not observe the actual post-mortem from the beginning to the end. Has she got in her possession documentary evidence on the results of the post-mortem or are you relying on her words? I do not know the area of law your LLB is but I am sure that you are aware that post-mortem evidence by word of mouth by a Senior Nurse on duty in a murder trial could be destroyed by a good defence Attorney or Barrister. So why are you not calling for the Pathologist who conducted the autopsy or request for the signed autopsy report from the hospital? That would be a stronger evidence that you uncle died from poisoning and not the words of a Senior Nurse on duty at the time of the post-mortem. As I have said above, even if the autopsy report states that your uncle died from poisoning that is no proof that Ama Doe Benyiwa was responsible. There must be evidence linking her to the poisoning. The legal test is “beyond any reasonable doubt” and not “on the balance of probability”.

“Ama eventually sold my uncle’s assets and then fled to Ghana under a diplomatic immunity by the then Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria with the help of Ghana Foreign Affairs dept under Prez Rawlings”. Mr Doe-Vermavor, it is this part of your story that I find incredible. I knew Ama Doe in the 1980s soon after her return from Nigeria. First, through one of her brothers who was a very close friend of mine and work colleague until I left Ghana in early October 1986 and second, through the University of Ghana Workers Defence Committee. She was then an Accounts Officer at the University and got involved in the work of the University’s Workers Defence Committee. She was later elected Chairperson of the Workers Defence Committee, an event that marked the genesis of her political career. Ama Benyiwa Doe was no near the powers that be in Ghana at the time she left Nigeria or immediately after her return to Ghana and therefore there was no way she could have been given diplomatic immunity or assisted by the PNDC to have evaded arrest by the authorities in Nigeria. I know this because from 1982 until I left Ghana in October 1986, I worked for the PNDC in an organisation that had close links with the Workers Defence Committees throughout Ghana and was closer to PNDC. That is how I know that Ama Benyiwah Doe was not close to the PNDC at that time.

I was also part of a group that selected and prepared workers for short courses abroad (for between three and six months). After the selection, I was responsible for securing passports and visas for their journey liaising directly with the Castle at the highest level. Ama Benyiwa Doe was selected for one of such six months course in Europe as Chairperson of the University Workers Defence Committee by our office. We selected her because she was very articulate, vocal and persuasive and not because she was closer to people in authority. As usual, I made all the necessary travel arrangements for the journey. I personally collected her passport from her and took it the European Embassy for her visa (together with the passports of the other recipients of the award). I sent the passports to Ghana Airways Office for their tickets to be issued and kept them in the office until they received their passports and air tickets at the Kotaka International Airport on the day of their departure. And I can confirm that she did not have a diplomatic but ordinary passport. It was not new but an old passport and she was one of the few who already had a passport. This was in 1984/85.

Ama Doe’s political career took off when she was appointed a government member of the District Assembly in her home district. That also gave her the opportunity to contest for and be elected as MP and subsequently appointed as Deputy Minister in the NDC government under Rawlings. She was unknown in the PNDC circles at the time she was in Nigeria to be given diplomatic immunity by the High Commissioner in Nigeria or the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Ghana. I accept that, the historical background is not conclusive proof that she could not have been assisted by people in government or authority at the time but from my own knowledge, that was highly unlikely.

Moreover, diplomatic immunity is regulated under international law as part of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and one country cannot grant her citizens in another country diplomatic immunity after a crime has been committed by that person, if that person did not have diplomatic immunity prior to the crime. Therefore your assertion that PNDC, the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs managed to assist Ama Benyiwah Does to evade arrest under diplomatic immunity is simply not credible and therefore false.

You stated that and I quote, “As at today, there’s credible information that Ama Benyiwah Doe is currently wanted in Nigeria to answer allegations of murder of her husband Mr Doe”. I find this also as not credible because I know that Ama Benyiwah Doe has been to Nigeria at least once since she returned to Ghana. The first was when our office sent her on a six month course in Europe as I have indicated above. The group including Ama Benyiwah Doe flew from Accra to Lagos by Ghana Airways to catch a connection flight to Europe. Unfortunately, the Ghana Airways flight from Accra to Lagos was delayed that day so the group missed the once a week connection flight from Lagos. They were stranded at Lagos Airport and our office made arrangements with the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria to host them till the following week since flying them back to Accra would have been too expensive. Ama Benyiwa Doe was in Lagos for a week in 1984/85. If truly Ama Doe with the same passport bearing the same name and personal details that she travelled on to Nigeria previously was wanted for any crime let alone murder, why did the Nigerian Authorities not arrest her? On completion of their course in Europe, they returned to Ghana through Lagos, though this time only on transit and again, she was not arrested by the Nigerian authorities. She did not have diplomatic immunity or a diplomatic passport. I met the group at Accra Kotoka International Airport on their return. So Mr Doe-Vermavor with LLB, when did the Nigerian Authorities declare Ama Benyiwah Doe wanted for murder or persona non grata?

According to your latest article entitled, “Ama Benyiwah Doe Lied To Mr Raymond Archer”, you state and I quote, “By engaging the services of lawyers, partisan newspapers and non-existent ‘sons’ ..... I do know that Ama Benyiwah Doe has no biological children and this is not something she should be ashamed of. Some people consider children are gift of God and it is a fact that some men and women have not been lucky to have their own children but that is not the end of their lives. Many, including Ama Benyiwah Doe have lived very fulfilling lives as parents by bringing up other people’s children as their own. I know from my visits to her home at Legon Staff Village that there were at least three young children in the house who called her as their mother. One was a boy called Steve but I must confess that I did not know his family or surname. My friend who was Ama Benyiwa Doe’s brother told me that the children were family members but she had taken them as her own children. As some of you may be aware that in some homes in Ghana, children often left the living room whenever visitors arrived, so I did not really know the children but they were in her home, she cared for them as a mother and they referred to her as their mother and one was a boy.

“On 25th Jan 2011, one gentleman - Steve R.K. Doe who claimed in his article with the title Ama Benyiwa Doe’s Ex-Husband is Alive” interestingly asserted that Ama Benyiwah Doe is her biological mother ........” Mr Doe-Vermavor, where in Steve’s article did he assert that he was the biological son of Ama Benyiwah Doe? I have searched for and made a copy of the said article and nowhere did Steve R.K Doe say that he was the biological son of Ama Benyiwah Doe. The fact that he refers to Ama Benyiwa Does as mother does not mean ‘his biological mother’. You should be aware that not all children who call a woman mother and vice-versa are biological children of the woman. Some are step mothers and others are adopted mothers. Whilst you appear to be desperate to find faults with Ama Benyiwah Doe’s denial, there are also lots of inconsistencies in your own allegations. I have heard from a reliable sources in Ghana and the US that some of the children who referred to her as mother are in the US, including the young boy called Steve. In fact, I read from one o the comments on Steve’s article on Ghanaweb that he telephoned Steve’s place of work and they confirmed that he worked there. That could be a hoax but I can confirm that there was a boy in Ama Benyiwah Doe’s home called Steve who called her mother and I believe that he is the same boy who is now a man in the US.

It is also important not to belittle Ama Benyiwah Doe in your effort to seek the truth about the alleged death of your uncle. Why did you claim that Ama Benyiwah Doe was a typist and your uncle was a Lecturer at University of Ghana? Did you know that your uncle was a Methematics Teacher or Tutor at Achimota School and not a Lecturer at Legon? Both Ama Doe Benyiwah and Steve R.K Doe have stated that you got your alleged uncle’s name and his home town wrong. I have noticed that you have now used the name they provided (Jerry Oscar Komla Doe) in your latest article. Mr Doe-Vermavor, are you sure your alleged dead or murdered uncle is the same person as Jerry Oscar Komla Doe?. This is particularly important as both Steve and Ama Benyiwah Doe have come out to say that Mr Jerry Oscar Komla Doe is alive in Ghana. How come you did not know his correct name, his home town and his job?

Mr Doe-Vermavor, you claim to be the Interim Chairman of Ghanaians Abroad Against Corruption. Has this group given you the authority to use their name in your correspondence on this matter?. If not, are you not abusing your position or office as this matter is a personal issue and is that not corruption (abuse of office or position), the very act you and your group are fighting against?

Are you the only family member of your alleged deceased uncle or perhaps, the only one educated? Why has no one from your family come out to support your allegations in Ghana?

When did you become aware that your uncle was allegedly poisoned by Ama Doe Benyiwah? I ask this question because you appear to suggest that because Ama Benyiwah Doe was close to the PNDC, she was and still in political office, you are afraid to go to Ghana to pursue this case. From the details in your articles, it is obvious that you have been aware of this case since the PNDC days. If that was the case, why did you not pursue the case during the NPP government between 2001 and 2008, when Ama Benyiwah Doe’s party was in opposition? Were you also afraid of the Kufour government that established a National Reconciliation Commission to find out about the truths on the human rights abuses of the past? Would you have been arrested if you made your allegations against Ama Benyiwah Doe under the NPP government?

Again, have you or any member of your family heard of a constitutional body in Ghana called “the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice” (CHRAJ)? Since the right to life is guaranteed under Ghana’s constitution and you are alleging that a Ghanaian murdered another Ghanaian, this body will have the constitutional duty to investigate your claim. Why have you not taken your case to CHRAJ, if you do not trust the police or other security agencies? For your information, CHRAJ is an independent body and not part of the government or controlled by the government. Your appeal to the President and the Police through your articles is the wrong approach.

Mr Dennis Doe-Vermavor, it is expected that someone with a Law degree would have handled this matter better than you have, at least so far. It is also disconcerting that you chair an organisation that is supposedly against corruption in Ghana and yet you appear to be using corrupt means as your modus operandi to achieve your personal objectives (whatever they are). It appears, you are not seeking justice (assuming your allegation is true) but revenge (character assignation and possible destruction of Ama Benyiwah Doe’s political career though the electronic media). I am a strong believer in human rights and would support your cause to seek justice for your alleged dead uncle if your story is true but I am afraid, your story does not add up. There are too many inconsistencies and as an educated individual with a degree in Law, your approach has left some of us to even doubt if you are the one you claim to be. Remember that some readers are able to read in between lines in your articles to expose the inconsistencies in your story.

Though I am unable to confirm that Mr Jerry Oscar Komla Doe has resurrected from the dead, according to a reliable source, he is still alive in Accra and seems to be enjoying this saga surrounding him because he is of the opinion that his ex-wife abandoned him and still ignoring him. I do hope some investigative journalist will be able to throw some light on this case to expose whoever is fooling us. Would that have to involve Anas, who knows? Ghanaian journalists, could you find the whereabouts of Mr Jerry Oscar Komla Doe for his alleged nephew in Scotland?

Kofi Ata
Cambridge, UK