As the Sole Commission set up to investigate inordinate payments made from public funds in satisfaction of judgment debts since the 1992 Constitution continue to experience some set backs, in respect of non-appearances of witnesses on scheduled dates, as well as inability of some witnesses to provide the required documents, its counsel has emphatically down-played its effects on the commission’s work.
Mr. Dometi Kofi Sokpor, counsel for the judgment debt commission told journalists that the commission was not frustrated over the non-appearance of some Institutions before the commission as well as the non-availability of files needed by the commission from Institutions to perform its work.
Counsel further noted that the acts of such Institutions are also not delaying the Commission, stressing that the Commission has a year to submit its report.
He, therefore, indicated that being a fact-finding commission, it is giving such Institutions much time to be able to produce the documents needed by the commission to do its work.
The comments of counsel to the Commission came about due to the inability of the Chief Director of the Ministry of Defence to appear before the commission and to produce certain files relating to the payment of judgment debt.
This was not the first time the commission had faced this problem. There had been several such instances since it started its work, however, it had been cured by providing the Institutions new appearance dates in order to provide the documents needed.
Meanwhile, the Solicitor General at the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Mrs. AmmaAbrakwaaGaisie who had made several appearances before the Commission, last Monday, April 8, this year, presented documents relating to Mahogany Furniture’s Company vrs Western Veneer & Lumber Company Limited and the Attorney General, as well as Sweater & Socks Company Limited vrs the Attorney General.
Additionally, the Solicitor General informed the Commission that her outfit is still collating information that will aid the commission in it work and would make them available when the documents are ready.
Regarding the Registrar General of the Attorney General’s Department, Principal State Attorney, Helen AkpeneAwoZiw was taken aback when asked of registration information on some 17 companies that she was subpoenaed since March18, this year, to bring.
However, the Principal State Attorney told the commission that she had not been served with that subpoena, but rather served with a latest one that was served on her earlier in the morning, to bring documents relating to Waterville Holdings BVI Limited.
Madam Ziw presented the documents on Waterville Holdings to the commission, noting that it was registered as an external company.
She was further given up to April 17 to reappear before the commission with documents relating to the 17 companies, which include Frandesco West Africa Limited, Meridian Tobacco Company Limited, Magins Group of Companies among others.
The judgment debt commission was established by Constitutional Instrument 79 of 2012, which was gazetted on October 2012 and has a period of 12 months to submit its report to the presidency.
The commission is expected to ascertain the causes of any inordinate payments made from public funds in satisfaction of judgment debts since the 1992 Constitution came into force, causes of any inordinate payments from public funds and financial losses arising from arbitration awards, negotiated settlements and other processes since the 1992 Constitution came into force and to make recommendation to government.
The effect of the commission’s recommendations to the government is expected to ensure that public funds utilized to make payments in satisfaction of judgment debts and public debts arising from others are limited, as well as ensuring that government does not incur undue financial losses when it does business with private persons or institutions.