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Opinions of Sunday, 2 April 2006

Columnist: Nyamekye, Kwabena

Deputy Minister Osei and Ghana?s International Image

I have read with shock, media reports that Ghana?s Deputy Minister for Trade, Mr. Kofi Ameyaw Osei has been found guilty of professional misconduct - improperly inducing a client to invest Funds, misleading a client and the Law Society/Bar Association/LSC and failing to advance and protect the interests of his client (Ghanaweb, 27 March 2006 CITATION: New South Wales Bar Association v Osei).

I am surprised because in an article published on Ghanaweb in 2005 (Read ), the author highlighted the good work of Mr. Osei while resident in Australia. He went on to mention that ?Mr. Osei is an Ewe, and was the only one who was able to unite the whole Ghanaian ethnic community in Australia that would have otherwise allowed the ugly head of communal racism to arise.? If the author of the interesting article is correct, then what went wrong for such a hard working and wealthy man to descend so low to improperly induce a client to invest funds in his company? Even though not proven guilty at the time of his Parliamentary Appointment Committee sitting in 2005, why did Mr. Osei fail to disclose the legal proceedings to the Committee?

Unlike the Amoateng saga which is still pending in the courts, Mr. Osei has been proven guilty by a court of law. The guilty charges are quite serious and will tarnish the reputation of Ghana at a time that he is the deputy of a very sensitive Ministerial Portfolio (Trade). Not only is the guilty verdict an embarrassment to the President, the NPP, Mr. Osei?s constituents and the people of Ghana, it also tarnishes Ghana?s international reputation.

The Ghana Palaver (28 to 30 March 2006) quotes an Australian Newspaper as follows:



February 17, 2006 Friday

All-round Country Edition

FEATURES; Legal Affairs ? Prejudice, Legal Affairs; Pg. 22 Prejudice

Chris Merritt With Vanda Carson Immunity deficiency

?It is certainly a unique way to avoid censure for professional misconduct. Ghanaian barrister Kofi Ameyaw Osei last year got his consulate general to claim diplomatic immunity on his behalf. Osei, who did not attend the misconduct hearing where he was accused of improperly inducing Philippine migrants to invest in his business, argued he was immune as the deputy minister for trade and industry. It was only after Australia?s department of foreign affairs advised the NSW Bar association that Osei was not an accredited diplomat that the Administrative Decisions Tribunal rejected his claim for immunity. The tribunal heard the claims against him but is yet to determine Osei?s penalty. He does not hold a current practicing certificate, and works as a migration agent.?

It is time Ghanaians demand proper background checks of Ministerial Appointments from all political parties to avoid the occurrence of such a disgraceful act. There are questions that need to be answered. Who recommended Mr. Osei to the President? Does Australia have an NPP Branch? If there is, did they know about the legal proceedings and did they sound any alarm bells to the President prior to Mr. Osei?s Ministerial appointment?

Did President Kufuor use diplomatic channels to verify the background of Mr. Osei in Australia? Is Ghana going to be taken seriously if the country allows people with guilty verdicts manage the affairs of the nation?

I call on his Excellency President Kufuor to act quickly to demand the resignation of this Minister in the interest of the nation, Ghana. Our country is bigger than Mr. Osei and no matter his financial contribution to the NPP, Ghana deserves the honour of being respected by the international community. Regardless of Mr. Osei?s version of the issue, he has recorded a guilty verdict and can only be exonerated through an appeal process. Until then, I call on the NPP, the Minority in Parliament, the National Union of Ghana Students, Ghana Bar Association, the Trades Unions, the Ghanaian Media and all democratic forces in Ghana to demand the Minister?s sacking from his portfolio. The bulldozing of Dr. Anane through the Parliamentary approval process despite a clear case of ministerial conflict of interest is already playing out at CHRAJ. I hope President Kufuor will spare the NPP another lengthy CHRAJ proceeding and sack the Minister. It is only after the sacking of the Minister that Ghana can truly start the process of redeeming itself from this shameful act because the international community will be watching.

Kwabena Nyamekye (Koforidua)

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