Opinions Mon, 6 Jul 2015

The First Impression Speaks Volumes – Justice Apau To Be Mindful Of That!

First impression matters. You can condone and connive with cronies, regardless how discreetly that is done behind dropped opaque blinds (curtains), the truth will out one day. This is the gist of my message to both President Mahama and the newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice Apau, the very indeed powerful Sole Commissioner who was singlehandedly appointed by President Mahama to investigate the unprecedentedly economy-ruining judgment debt payments, purportedly masterminded and spearheaded by the NDC government since January 2009.

It is an established principle in law that an accused person must be granted a hearing in whatever charge is levelled against them, no matter the triviality or the enormity of it.

When a Commission of Inquiry is appointed to look into a problem(s) or committed or allegedly committed acts of crime, it is tasked to investigate the causes of the crime, those who caused them and how they were caused. It is also required to prescribe or suggest solutions to prevent the repeat of such crimes. It can exonerate those standing accused following the evidence adduced in the course of their investigations. This will be based on the non acceptability, due to the non credibility of the charges preferred against the accused as may be obtained from interrogating them; checking or weighing their answers against known or alleged facts as may be produced by the accuser, or as may be the standing order. It can also confirm that the accused has indeed committed the crime or offence as alleged, consequent upon which the Commission was set up to conduct thorough investigations. This conclusive arrival will also be based on the evidence obtained during the interrogation of the accused.

Without summoning the accused before the Commission, or seeking by other credible means to hear personally from them or from their nominated and empowered representatives, agents and assigns, the outcome of the Commission's inquiry will NOT be all that credible. Their final report to be submitted to whoever appointed it will be received, but it must be taken with a pinch of salt, unless it is a grand plot to undermine the accused for reasons best known to the plotters themselves.

Having said that, some laypeople, those not conversant with the procedures set out for Commission inquiries, will still buy into the findings of a Commission regardless of their obvious failings.

Now, I have read from some online news portals how the Sole Commissioner, Justice Apau, has allegedly indicted Nana Akufo Addo for "causing financial loss" to the State. He arrived at his implication of Nana Akufo Addo when investigating the probably dubious sale of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation's (GNPC) Drillship Discover 511.

What body at all is the GNPC? The "Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) was established as a State-owned entity and given legal backing by two main statutes i.e. PNDC Laws 64 and 84. The PNDC Law 64 of 1983 mandates the Corporation "to undertake the exploration, development, production and disposal of petroleum" and PNDC Law 84 establishes the legal framework governing the contractual relationship between the State, GNPC and the prospective investor in upstream petroleum operations".

What is a drillship? "A drillship is a ship equipped with a drill rig and engaged in offshore oil and gas exploration, oceanographic research, etc."

Now that we know who and what GNPC and drillship are, let me proceed to discuss Justice Apau in regard to his yet, officially to be announced or published incriminating findings against some people, allegedly including Nana Akufo Addo, the NPP flagbearer for Election 2016.

Although the report of his Commission on the devastating "judgment Debt Payments" has been submitted to President Mahama, it has not yet been made public. However, the NDC people, as mischievous, malevolent and cunning as they always have been, are joyously spreading the news that Nana Akufo Addo, the person renowned for incorruptibility, selflessness and demonstrable integrity, is guilty of causing financial loss to Ghana.

As I am famous for being a no-nonsense man who also does not suffer fools kindly, I am readying myself, pulling up my sleeves, for a showdown with the Sole Commissioner who is now a Supreme Court Judge. I have the following few simple questions for him.

1. Did he invite Nana Akufo Addo before him for interrogation over his part played in the sale of the GNPC's drillship? If he did, when was it? If he did not, why not?

2. Does he know the negative legal implications of failing to listen to both sides of a story, accusation of course, before rendering judgment? A default judgment could only be granted when one party, either the plaintiff or the defendant, repeatedly refuses to honour their invitation to court or submit their defence.

3. Did Nana Akufo Addo not make it plain that he was more than ever ready to appear before him whenever he was needed when needed? Why did he not invite him when there is clearly no official or unofficial evidence to prove the contrary?

4. Did he, Mr Sole Commissioner, have any hidden agenda hence failing to invite Nana, but had the shamelessly unprofessional audacity to accuse him of causing financial loss to the State?

I will reserve any further questions until the report of his findings on the judgment debt payments is made public. When it turns out that Nana Akufo Addo has been implicated or indicted without being heard, then the hell will break loose. I shall then come out with tougher questions to dent the Sole Commissioner's credibility as a lawyer, let alone, being a Supreme Court judge.

Why has President Mahama promoted him to sit on the bench of the nation's Supreme Court? Is it a payment in kind for the services he has rendered to him or to the nation as a successful Sole Commissioner, somehow able to implicate Nana Akufo Addo, putting his political future on the line?

All that I can tell him and the broader NDC is we crane our neck to see what is going but not what is coming towards our direction. When the D-Day finally comes, the defender of the needy and the vulnerable in society will be in the ring to throw lethal punches at the enemies of Ghana in general and those of Nana Akufo Addo in particular.

I always have to apply the good things I have learned abroad to the benefit of my country Ghana and her citizens. I will never sit nonchalantly by while crooks continually take Ghanaians for a rough ride as though all Ghanaians are inherently stupid.

Mind you, the Sole Commissioner, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time", said Abraham Lincoln. And this said in French is,"... ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux et en certains temps, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux et dans tous les siècles".

I pray Justice Apau will be selfless, strict, fair and friendly in his service to the nation, in his new post as a Supreme Court Justice. "A word to the wise is sufficient".

I would love to dedicate this publication to all discerning Ghanaians, especially, a fellow Ghanaian Londoner doubling as one of my biggest fans called Appiah.

Rockson Adofo
Columnist: Adofo, Rockson