General News of Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Source: The Chronicle
After keeping the public in suspense for some time, President John Dramani Mahama has finally reshuffled staff at the Flagstaff House.
As anticipated, the president has removed the Chief of Staff, Douglas Prosper Bani from his post and made him ambassador extraordinaire and plenipotentiary.
The affable but hard working Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Julius Debrah, has now taken over as the Chief of Staff.
A former Senior Advisor for Special Duties and Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Alhaji Baba Issifu Kamara takes over from William Aboah as National Security Advisor, whilst the latter assumes a new role as the Advisor Responsible for Restructuring of National Narcotic Control Board (NARCOB) into a commission.
Mr. Johnny Osei Kofi, hitherto Deputy Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing takes over from Valarie Sawyer as Deputy Chief of Staff. Background checks conducted on all the new appointments revealed that whereas Julius Debrah, a down to earth man has an excellent record as a minister and, therefore, deserves his new appointment, the same cannot be said about Baba Kamara, who has assumed a sensitive role as National Security Advisor.
The Former Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria was among officials who were implicated in the infamous Mabey and Johnson scandal. In September 2009, the Serious Fraud Office in London found Mabey and Johnson, a British bridge construction firm guilty of paying bribes amounting to £470,000 to some Ghanaian officials.
After the ruling of the London SFO, the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) decided to investigate the officials named in the report, but Baba Kamara, who was one of them, went to court to argue that he was a private man and cannot, therefore, be investigated by the CHRAJ.
Whilst the case was pending, then Commissioner of CHRAJ, Justice Emil Short granted an interview to Paul Adom Octhere of Metro TV and argued that the Supreme Court would dismiss an objection raised by Alhaji Baba Kamara, one of the applicants, on whether or not CHRAJ had the powers to investigate a private person.
Based on this, Baba Kamara went to the Human Rights Court to contest that the CHRAJ boss’ comment was prejudicial, which was upheld.
The court, presided over by Justice U.P. Dery held that it was prejudicial for Mr. Short to have discussed a matter which was pending before him on air, adding that “he had demonstrated by the interview that CHRAJ was incapable of undertaking a fair and impartial hearing into the case”.
Baba Kamara’s jubilation was however short lived as the Court of Appeal, on March 24, 2011, set aside the ruling of the Human Rights Court which prohibited CHRAJ from investigating bribery allegations against him and six others.
The court said after carefully examining the video tapes, documents and appeal processes, it found that there was no evidence that the comments made by the then Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr. Justice Emile Short, could lead to bias.
It was of the view that Mr. Justice Short was not synonymous with CHRAJ, noting that even if there was any likelihood of bias shown by him, other commissioners could investigate the allegation.
The Supreme Court in April 2011 also came into the picture and ruled that private individuals implicated in a bribery scandal alongside public officials could be investigated by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Consequently, the court held that Mr. Baba Kamara, who has been implicated along with six others in the Mabey and Johnson (M&J) bribery scandal, could be investigated by CHRAJ.
Mr. Kamara had challenged the authority of CHRAJ to investigate him on the grounds that he was a private individual at the time the alleged bribery took place. Following Mr. Kamara’s objection, CHRAJ, through its lawyer, Mr. Thaddeus Sory, took the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
In a unanimous decision, the court, presided over by Ms. Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, held that under Article 218 of the 1992 Constitution, CHRAJ had powers to investigate a private individual implicated alongside public officials.
The court held that where, in an alleged bribery/corruption allegation, a private individual was implicated alongside public officials, that individual could be investigated by CHRAJ.
The case has since been hanging without any definite ruling by the CHRAJ over Kamara’s involvement in the scandal.
Surprisingly the person who was accused of bribery has now been appointed to a sensitive position as the National Security Advisor. The Chronicle is unable to establish whether President Mahama took the allegations against his new Security Advisor into consideration, before appointing him to the position.
Meanwhile, former CHRAJ boss, Justice Emil Short has told Joy FM that Baba Kamara and others mentioned in the scandal are still under investigation. The Chronicle is still digging for more files.