Youth and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga says the Ghana@50 ruling informed the decision by the president to elevate a committee set up to investigate the Black Stars’ botched World Cup campaign into a Presidential Commission.
He said the president would rather have a presidential commission whose adverse findings will have the effect of the decision of a High Court and will be punitive enouth.
According to him, President John Mahama preferred a Commission which would provide comprehensive information on what went wrong in the Black Stars campaign with the view to changing systems rather than just searching for criminal prosecutions which a committee findings may merely lead to.
The minister had announced a three man committee headed by Justice Senyo Dzamefe to investigate the circumstances under which Ghana exited the World Cup embarrassingly early and the controversies, including player indiscipline, delayed bonuses, match fixing allegations, that surrounded the exit.
Even before the committee will begin sitting, the Minister appeared before Parliament to inform the House about the decision of the president to elevate the committee to a Commission.
In an interview with Myjoyonline.com, Monday, Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga explained the rationale behind the elevation.
“We were guided initially by the Court decision in the Ghana @50 case. You will recall that because it was a Commission of Inquiry, the state could not prosecute people against whom criminal findings were made.
“Guided by that, we were trying to avoid a situation where if there is findings against anybody of a criminal nature no further steps can be taken to deal with that. That was what really informed the process,”
When asked if by that arrangement the government was not seeking to protect people from criminal prosecutions in the court of law, the minister said: “We must decide what your objective is. If your objective is to find out what went wrong with a view to changing systems so that in future you can develop soccer, I think that is what we believe is the prime objective of this exercise.”
He added that when a Commission of Enquiry makes adverse findings against a person that is already punitive enough in the sense that he/she will be disqualified from holding public office.
“So the outcome of the work of Commission of enquiry itself, where it is adverse, is punitive in nature. That is why the Supreme Court says you cannot jeopardise the individual twice because you would have punished him by your findings in themselves and then you again send him to court to prosecute him, that means that he is being punished twice for the same conduct.
“Right from the beginning you have to decide which punishment you want. Do you want the punishment that comes with an adverse findings being made against that person or you want the punishment that comes with criminal prosecution in the court of law. If you choose the adverse findings you cannot later say again you are going to prosecute the person under the criminal laws. That will be treating the person unfairly. That will be double jeopardy,” he explained.
The minister explained further that the presidential commission was favoured over the ministerial committee because the latter will not be able to compel witnesses to appear before it.
“With a commission they can compel people to come and give evidence. Those people will feel free to give the evidence knowing that once they give the evidence it cannot be used in a subsequent criminal prosecution of any of them,” he emphasised.
With president John Mahama playing a key role in the flight of some $3.5 million to the Black Stars in Brazil, an act which many believe subjected the country to ridicule, some have said the president himself has questions to answer.
When asked if the president would appear before the Commission to explain his role in breaching the country’s banking laws, the minister said: “I think at this stage we will be prejudging what the commission will do.”
He would rather the commission is inaugurated first before issues about whether or not the president would appear are discussed.
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