New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer for the 2016 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has given an indication that he will challenge the adverse findings purportedly made against him by the Judgement Debt Commission headed by newly-appointed Supreme Court judge, Justice Yaw Apau.
According to Nana Asante Bediatuo, counsel for the NPP stalwart, they had written to the Presidency to get a certified copy of Justice Apau’s leaked report in order to seek redress in court without delay.
In the leaked Sole Commissioner’s report, Justice Apau made adverse findings against Nana Akufo-Addo, under whose tenure as Attorney-General the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Drill Ship Discoverer 511 was sold to defray debts incurred by Tsatsu Tsikata when he was the boss of the state-run company.
The Justice Apau report on the drill ship had been described by Journalist Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr as ‘voodoo report’, virtually accusing the Sole Commissioner of pandering to the propaganda whims of the NDC government.
The Drill Ship was disposed off by the Kufuor administration to defray a $19.5 million judgement debt owed Societe Generale Bank in 2001, and the Sole Commissioner’s report concluded that Nana Akufo-Addo’s ‘miserable’ failure to defend the state in a London court led to a judgement debt higher than what Ghana would have paid.
‘This Commission holds the view that the payment of $19.5 million instead of the $14 million earlier on agreed constituted financial loss to the Corporation and Ghana,’ the leaked report concluded.
Interestingly, Justice Apau made the adverse finding even though he never invited Nana Akufo-Addo to hear his side of the Drill Ship saga which took a large chunk of the commission’s sitting, despite the fact that the NPP flagbearer was on record to have volunteered to testify in the matter.
An incensed Nana Asante Bediatuo told Joy FM news analysis programme Newsfile last Saturday that although Nana Akufo-Addo was yet to lay his hands on the original report, a cursory analysis of what was contained in the leaked report showed it ‘suffers from a huge deficit.’
‘Let me also say that we have written formally to the commission, copied the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, for an official copy because we are not sure what is floating around is it,’ he said.
Giving reasons why his client would take the court option, he said: ‘We cannot allow a report to be hanging and government chooses not to issue a White Paper so that the issues in the report become issues of fact and people can talk about it and use it to nail Akufo-Addo. That is wrong!’
Proceeding To Court!
He said: ‘I disagree with those saying that if a White Paper is not issued then Akufo-Addo cannot go to court because every person under the Constitution has a right of access to the court especially when his human rights are concerned – when we are talking about the rights of natural justice.’
Nana Asante Bediatuo disclosed: ‘The Commission is an inquisitorial commission. It is not like our normal courts that employ the adversarial process. So the commission has a higher burden of investigating and interrogating every issue that comes up and looking for evidence in support of one particular fact or another.’
‘I see that in this particular instance the commission has failed in that endeavour. From what I have seen of the report, there is nothing about the actual cause of this debt which is the original GNPC debt to S-G and how it came about and so on. There is a big lacuna there and I don’t understand that,’ he lamented.
He noted: ‘It is important that even if you are an inquisitorial commission, a person’s right to be heard should never be taken away.’
He said there were a lot of ‘innuendos’ in the report and ‘I find it quite unfortunate because it seems to me that it doesn’t directly name Akufo-Addo but gives innuendos that any person reading the report will obviously attach the A-G to a person, Akufo-Addo; and I think that is also unfortunate.’
He explained that there were a lot of innuendos because ‘he mentions other people’s names directly and not their offices like he mentioned K.T. Hammond and so on.’
‘If they had called Akufo-Addo, perhaps the issue for example of why he didn’t go to the London court which is an issue of discretion in the A-G to decide whether to go or not would have been adequately explained to full.’
‘Nonsense’ of a Report
Nana Asante Bediatuo said that ‘as a matter of first principle, the denial of the right to be heard makes some bit of nonsense of the report.’
‘It is also clear to us that it is not as though the commission had documents or correspondence that made Akufo-Addo’s presence unnecessary; but he does not say so. Documents or correspondence in his own hands that clearly show he could then make some of these findings or even if he chose not to invite him.’
He said ‘if indeed this report about Akufo-Addo is to attack his incorruptibility, I think it is futile, and I think people should stop trying to do that. There is nothing in Akufo-Addo’s background, his profession to suggest corruption. They should just give up.’
Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide and a regular panellist on Newsfile said the Sole Commissioner appeared to have engaged in what he called ‘Vodoo Mathematics’ to conclude that Nana Akufo-Addo caused financial loss in the Drill Ship saga.
He explained that the figures relied on to suggest that Ghana paid a larger amount than it would have were not calculated based on any concrete evidence or even sound judgement.
Kweku Baako insisted that there was no evidence to back the claim that the $14 million was settled on to warrant a conclusion by Justice Apau that the $19.5 million that was paid S-G was $5.5 million more than ought to have been paid.
He read a memo purportedly written by a former Chief Executive of the GNPC, Tsatsu Tsikata, addressed to the Board of Directors of the Corporation in 1998, admitting that GNPC owed S-G $40 million. The journalist said that the decision of the London High Court was not without basis and the burden could not have been placed on the then A-G, Nana Akufo-Addo.
‘Let Justice Apau and his commission produce evidence to the effect of this $14 million settlement agreement,’ he dared the Sole Commissioner who has suddenly been promoted to the Supreme Court upon completion of his assignment.
By William Yaw Owusu
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