Lauretta Vivian Lamptey
Pressure is mounting on Lauretta Vivian Lamptey, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), following her alleged extravagant and reckless dissipation of public funds on accommodation, running into over $200,000.
She becomes the latest head of a state institution to be embroiled in allegation of wanton misapplication of state resources at a time when the human rights body is clearly starved of funds.
Media reports indicate that the commissioner currently stays at the Best Western Hotel where the taxpayer is billed $450 daily on her accommodation.
The hotel is situated some metres from the commissioner’s officially-designated residence at the Airport Residential Area, Accra, which is currently under refurbishment on her orders at a huge cost to CHRAJ.
A member of Parliament’s Special Budget Committee, Frank Annoh Dompreh, is leading a campaign to probe Ms Lamptey, after it had emerged that she spent more than $148,000 on rent alone.
Mr Dompreh said the timing of the recent revelations was appropriate since Ms Lamptey had for two years, consistently turned down invitations by the Committee to appear before it to answer allegations of corruption against her.
‘Even at a point, we [the Committee] reached a consensus for her to be subpoenaed for her to appear before the Committee of Special Budgets,’ the MP for Nsawam/Adoagyiri in the Eastern Region revealed.
Franklin Cudjoe of Imani Ghana called for her dismissal. ‘Listening to the CHRAJ boss is getting me very angry right now! This woman paaaa has the temerity to suggest that she is doing us a favour by paying her hotel bills as if it would be free. Ah! The Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice is a purveyor of injustice. She lived in a hotel in Ghana for years paying a whopping sum of $100,000, whilst her official residence was available. She has violated the basic human rights of all tax payers, especially when she has been very silent on anything related to administrative abuse and corruption in Ghana. President Mahama, frankly, now these things are affecting your legacy. Please FIRE her right now!’ he said in a facebook post.
Before lodging at the hotel, Ms Lamptey resided at the plush African Union (AU) Village at Cantonments, Accra, at the cost of $148,500 in rent for 33 months—from November 2011 to April 2014.
The tenancy agreement, a copy of which is in possession of DAILY GUIDE, indicated that she was paying $4,500 monthly to the landlord—Sigma 7 Limited of 125 Boundary Rd, East Legon, Accra.
Since her appointment by the late President John Atta Mills, Justice Lamptey, whose conditions of service are equivalent to Justices of the Court of Appeal, has not occupied her officially-designated residence because she wants the place refurbished.
Efforts by the contractor from PWD Prestige to complete what is believed to be minor refurbishment, was frustrated by the commissioner’s expensive taste and as a result, the contractor abandoned the project because the funds had been exhausted.
She has maintained that it is the duty of the state to house her saying, ‘The state has an obligation to house me whether I’m a native of Accra or…anywhere else. The job structure involves being housed; the compensation is based on ‘we are providing these things for you.”
DAILY GUIDE learned that recently when the Parliamentary Select Committee on Housing invited her to justify her profligate expenditure, she failed to honour the invitation.
Former CHRAJ Commissioner, Justice Francis Emile Short, who occupied the building until his retirement in 2009, set the records straight on the matter when he told a radio station that the renovation was being done on the request of Justice Lamptey and not him as being speculated.
‘As far as I can recollect, these renovations were requested by the present commissioner, not me,’ he said, but admitted that the building needed some patching-up.
DAILY GUIDE was probably the first to contact her for her version of the story but she told this reporter that she was on her way to the airport for a foreign trip and would grant an interview when she returned.
Out of courtesy, DAILY GUIDE had decided to hold on to the story until she returned from her trip, but unknown to the paper, the commissioner was granting an interview on the issue to another media outlet.
Apart from the issue of accommodation, sources said she hardly steps into the office and most of the works are done by her deputies, adding that the lack of leadership at CHRAJ had accounted for the dwindling role of the commission in the administration of justice.
‘She only goes to the office for reimbursement of expenses made and has not visited majority of the commission’s regional and district offices ever since she assumed office,’ a source said.
According to the source, she hardly attends the commission’s internal meetings and is more interested in international human rights invitations where allowances and perdiems are far better,’ the source added.
Justification & Denial
In her brief interview with DAILY GUIDE before it was rescheduled, she insisted that she was the one footing her hotel bills but did not indicate whether she was getting a refund. She also said she had not been going to work because she was on leave.
She has four vehicles, a driver and police protection at her disposal and the vehicles are always parked at the hotel premises.
Poor Work Conditions
Since fire gutted the east wing of the Old Parliament House where CHRAJ head office is located, there had not been much efforts to press the government to find suitable accommodation for the commission.
Also going waste are a number of Toyota pickups donated by DANIDA two years ago to enhance the administration of justice; but there had not been any effort by the CHRAJ boss to distribute the vehicles to the regions.
The public outcry that has greeted the commissioner’s ostentatious lifestyle appears to make her continued stay in office untenable.
By William Yaw Owusu
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