Of Dr Anane, CHRAJ, Justice Baffoe Bonnie ...

Tue, 20 Mar 2007 Source: Nuviadenu, Kobla


It is not contestable that one issue that has generated much controversy, debate, and immense media coverage is the case involving Dr Richard Anane, a former Minister for Roads and Transport and Ms Alexandria O’Brien. The series of allegations raised compelled CHRAJ to carry out an investigation into the matter.

Subsequently, CHRAJ came out with its findings which among others faulted Dr Anane of perjury, abuse of office, and also that he was culpable of conflict of interest. The lawyers of Dr Anane, not satisfied with the findings and recommendations of CHRAJ, took the matter up at the courts.

It should be stressed that it is not the authenticity of the issues raised by the media reportage that the former minister’s legal team challenged CHRAJ. Their bone of contention was contained in a letter addressed to Dr Anane’s lawyers dated 11/01/2006 and signed by the acting director (Legal and Investigations) on behalf of the Commissioner. The letter stated in part that “with respect to your request for evidence submitted to the commission by Raymond Archer, the Commission wishes to inform you that Mr Raymond Archer is not a complainant before the Commission. The Commission therefore has no evidence on which Mr Archer intends to rely since he has no case before the Commission. The Commission is conducting it own investigations into this matter as it is mandated to do under article 218 (e) of the 1992 constitution.” It is this that the court, presided over by Justice Baffoe Bonney ruled on.

In making comments on a delicate issue as this, it is incumbent on us to refrain from making crass, irresponsible and petty arguments if we do not have an appreciation of the law. Let’s make a dispassionate and critical analysis of the issue so as to arrive at cogent conclusion. Anything short of this will amount to intellectual dishonesty.

The ruling was premised on technical and procedural impropriety and not about the fact that Dr Anane has been cleared of the charges levelled against him. There is therefore no basis for people to read meanings into the ruling.

It should be re-echoed that CHRAJ is not sacrosanct and can therefore err. Remember the Kwame Addo vs. CHRAJ episode where the court ruled that it was not fair for CHRAJ to have ruled on the matter without hearing Kwame Addo’s version? In the view of the court in this particular case involving Dr. Anane, CHRAJ is not clothed with the proper legal authority to investigate matters of perjury. This resides with the courts. Also, it sought to imply that to enable CHRAJ carry out an investigation, there should always be an identifiable complainant which in this case was missing. In any case, common law states that he, who alleges, must prove. Who alleged? A newspaper? And who proved? No one!

Article 287 of the 1992 Constitution states that an allegation must be raised to the Commission. Who raised one before her? CHRAJ’s own constitutional instrument (CI) 7 states that “Complaints to the Commission shall be made in writing or orally to the national office of the Commission or to the representative of the commission in the region or district branch of the commission” Who alleged what, and what information did he/she give?

CHRAJ, under the present circumstances, could have observed the inconsistencies. However to go ahead to make recommendations that he should apologise to parliament for perjury meant that it overstepped its bounds. In any case, since when did apology become the punishment for perjury, a criminal offence?

If there is one thing instructive from the ruling, perhaps it is that there is the need for us to take a second look at the law that established CHRAJ, SFO, and other anti-corruption agencies and to, possibly, adequately strengthen and empower them as strong anti-corruption agencies. If this is the option we are to choose, the procedure to follow is clear. It is only through this that we can advance the course of transparency and accountability and at the same time ensure justice and fairness. Anything short of this should be seen as people simply displaying traits of unconscious incompetence, egoistic tendencies, or intellectual dishonesty.

It also places an onus on NGO’s, civil society organisations and all Ghanaians to encourage people to lodge formal complaints if they have cause to suspect or have knowledge of any underhand dealings. I will admonish all Ghanaians, especially politicians and social commentators that in this particular instance, there are no winners or losers. There should be no bruised egos. It is the rule of law that has triumphed. It is in this regard that I seize this platform to applaud government officials and spokespersons for refraining to be drawn into this frenzy. To them all and our justice system I say thumbs up!!!


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Columnist: Nuviadenu, Kobla