An irrelevant ‘material witness?’ That’s illogical – Adom Otchere lambasts Ernest Abotsi
Paul Adom Otchere, Host of Good Evening Ghana on Metro TV, has not taken kindly to the suggestion by the Executive Secretary of the defunct Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of Inquiry, that he was ‘irrelevant’ to the Commission for which reason he was swiftly discharged when he appeared before it.
Although the Commission has ceased to exist after handing over its report to President Nana Akufo-Addo, Mr. Ernest Kofi Abotsi made this comment during an interview on Joy TV.
For one to testify before the commission, a witness should have “taken part in the activity on the ground and therefore you have been implicated or involved in one shape or the other.”
He said the potential witness ought to have been in a position of command or control or supervisory position related to the events of January 31.
Mr. Kofi Abotsi said, if the potential witness did not satisfy these two, then he should be an expert.
The Executive Secretary of the defunct commission, however, said “one thing became clear” to Commission, that Paul Adom Otchere did not fit in any of the three categories.
Meanwhile, in a rather scathing rebuttal on the editorial segment of Good Evening Ghana on Thursday, Mr. Adom Otchere said it was disingenuous and hypocritical of the respected lawyer to have made those comments especially when he was the same person who signed the letter that invited him to the Commission in which he [Paul] was described as a “material witness”.
A clearly dismayed and exasperated Mr. Adom Otchere displayed the letter that invited him on television and backed it with a commentary.
He said “I write formally to you as a material witness; that’s the first line, and this is a determination that the Commission itself made. 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.”
“So Mr. Abotsi in his own wisdom said that I am a material witness; then it went on to say that, given your important role…Now they have determined that my role is important, I didn’t make that determination. They made that determination, that given your important role as the Media Communications Consultant of Metropolitan TV; and I don’t know where they got that from but that’s what they wrote…“Your evidence and general cooperation will significantly assist the performance of the commission’s work and the delivery of its mandate.”
Now, this is their assertion, this is Kofi Abotsi’s assertion, the same man who says that Paul Adom Otchere was irrelevant; this is what he wrote to me; this one he didn’t show it to the world or tell the people who interviewed him.”
“I am going to conclude and say that it was illogical, but I just want to build up the case because lawyers when they talk, they must lay a foundation for what they’re saying. Lawyers don’t just talk in the air and say anything at all,” he added.
He continued that, “You’re expected to appear before the Commission on Tuesday the 19th day of February at 11:00am, and testify to matters pertaining to your team’s role. So here again, he seems to know somehow that I may not have been an eyewitness because it talks about your team’s role in the conduct of the elections and the related incidents there, as well as any other matters within your purview and knowledge which information may be relevant to the ongoing investigations, counting on your cooperation.”
“So this is the letter that you sent me; in this letter, they don’t ask me for a video, which is the curious part. Kofi Abotsi didn’t ask me for a video. It is signed by Ernest Kofi Abotsi, and that’s the Executive Secretary, then later he says I am irrelevant,” he noted.
Mr. Paul Adom Otchere pointed out errors in the Commission’s invitation letter, such as their description of him as a Media Communications Consultant at Metro TV, a depiction he questioned.
He also noted that his surname was spelt wrongly.
Mr. Adom Otchere explained that, although he disagreed with the Commission’s reasons for discharging him when he made an appearance, he could not have challenged them there and then merely out of respect for the members of the Commission.
Here’s what Ernest Kofi Abotsi said on Joy TV:
“The difficulty with him [Paul Adom Otchere], is just the fact that, the Commission was fundamentally focused on dealing with relevant witnesses. So the fundamental indicia for us deciding who a witness is before the commission, is the factor of relevance. To be relevant, you must satisfy one of three factors; you must have taken part in the activity on the ground, and therefore, you’ve been implicated or you were involved in one shape or the other on the ground. Two, you were not on the ground but you were in a certain command or control or supervisory position.”
“For media houses for example, some of you weren’t actually there, but you sent people, and these people went and came back and reported to you; so you were in a direct report responsibility or position. And if you’re not in any of these two categories, then you must fit in the third category as an expert. With the greatest respect, when Mr. Paul Adom Otchere appeared before the Commission; the expectation or the understanding was that he was going to fit in one of these three categories. I wasn’t on the Commission, my commissioners took him through and there were all kinds of exchanges, but one thing that became clear, and which is why the Commission ultimately decided that they may need to proceed further was because the commissioners in their judgement came to the conclusion that these three things that they were expecting, he didn’t fit any of them.”
But Mr. Paul Adom Otchere vehemently rejected these explanations and described them as “illogical”, saying those were not stated in the letter that invited him to the Commission.
“You heard him lay out some three things that people were required to do; where’s he getting that from? That’s not what he wrote to me. That’s my concern. This is totally illogical. You write a letter to me and say come and do this; and then you sit on TV and say these things. Where’s Kofi Abotsi getting these three things from? Is he picking it from the sky? Is that how lawyers talk these days? Lawyers talk without laying a foundation? Lawyers talk and are so illogical? The basis of my relationship with the Commission is the letter they sent to me. And the letter they sent to me, outlined what they expected of me; and you sit on TV and say something totally different from the letter you sent me? When you called me a material witness were you thinking backwards? That’s really illogical. In the opening line of your letter, you say material witness, then you go and sit on TV and you give three criteria that the Commission was looking for; were they looking for it from a forest?” he quizzed.
“Abotsi’s comments were illogical, they lacked foundation and they were very disappointing,” Paul Adom Otchere concluded.
He said Mr. Abotsi has by his actions “manifested hypocrisy”.
“That’s Kofi Abotsi’s summary on what he did on Joy FM. You don’t write something in secret and then come in public and say the opposite. That’s hypocrisy,” he insisted.
Metro gave out videos to the Commission
Mr. Adom Otchere also disclosed that, although the Commission did not give him the expected audience, they went ahead to make available to the Commission videos captured by Metro TV cameras during the by-election, the very day that he faced the commission.