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General News Thu, 24 May 2012

Jake guilty of 'common sense' conflict of interest - Clement Apaak

The convener of the Forum for Governance and Justice says common sense should tell Jake Obetsebi Lamptey he is wrong in his attempt to own the state bungalow he previously purchased even if the Supreme Court decision Tuesday paves the way.

Clement Apaak is resolute in his conviction that the 6-3 verdict by the Supreme Court must be challenged in the public interest and that it should not stay.

The court after three years of sitting concluded on Wednesday, the plaintiffs- Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Dr. Edward Omane Boamah failed to prove the corruption, conflict of interest and cronyism allegations they leveled against Jake Obetsebi Lamptey in his purchase of the bungalow he had occupied as a minister of state.

The ruling has sent tongues wagging with some criticizing the two men, who are now Deputy Ministers of Information and Sports respectively for not doing enough due diligence whilst others insist the Supreme Court failed to protect the State interest.

Others also say, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey may have won the case legally but lacks moral integrity.

Commenting on the ruling, Clement Apaak told Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoh if nothing at all, Jake cannot be said to be free from the conflict of interest allegations leveled against him.

He said “common sense” alone shows that the NPP chair stinks of the conflict of interest allegation.

“We can rest assured that when you look at the evidence of proving whether or not there is a conflict of interest, there are certain obvious indications that may not be on paper but common sense will indicate that those indications and circumstances will suggest a conflict of interest,” he said.

“…How could anyone believe that somebody who was a Chief of Staff and was assigned a government bungalow to live in; became a minister and got it renovated to his taste; and subsequently left and applied to buy the same bungalow could not have been in a conflict of interest?” he quizzed.

Mrs Gloria Ofori Kwafo of the Ghana Integrity Initiative said the GII respects the decision by the Supreme Court and takes consolation in the fact that the judges even in their ruling which was in favour of the respondent made it clear they were not condoning the practice in which public officers buy state properties.

She said the burden of proof is important but was quick to add that if the Freedom of Information law were to have been passed, perhaps the plaintiffs could have had the evidence they needed.

But a lawyer and New Patriotic Party member, Nana Asante Bediatuo said Clement Apaak and other critics of the Supreme Court ruling are being unfair.

He explained that the case was not about whether it was right for a public property to be sold to a public officer but rather it was about the respondent- Jake Obetsebi Lamptey- answering for corruption, conflict of interest and cronyism allegations leveled against him by the plaintiff.

He said the court, per the judgment given, showed clearly the plaintiff failed to prove those allegations.

He said on the allegation of corruption, the judges were unanimous in their ruling, clearing Jake Obetsebi Lamptey of the corruption allegation.

On the case of Conflict of Interest the court ruled it had no jurisdiction on the matter, and would rather, that allegation is sent to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for adjudication.

He said people must take time to read the verdict and not use their misunderstanding of the case to bastardise the judges.

Source: myjoyonline