President erred in GITMO saga: Says Joe Ghartey

Joe Ghartey

A former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Mr Joe Ghartey, has waded into the controversial GITMO detainees saga, questioning the authority under which President John Mahama had to bring the detainees into the country.

He said under the 1992 Constitution, the President derived his powers from the Constitution and, therefore, did not have absolute powers to do as he pleased.

Speaking on the topic, “The Presidency, Executive authority and checks and balances” as the first in a series of the Almond Institute’s New Year Lectures, Mr Ghartey, a former minister in the Kufuor administration, said, “The President does not have that power. He can talk to the Minister of Interior, who would talk to the Director of Immigration, but he cannot usurp that power because that power is given to somebody else.”

Separation of powers

Mr Ghartey said based on the separation of powers, the power to admit people into the country was given to the Director of Immigration.

He said information available indicated that there had been some negotiation for over a year between the two countries and wondered if it was an international agreement under Article 75 of the Constitution, stressing that if that was so, “they should have brought it to Parliament”.

Mr Ghartey said the 1992 Constitution did not grant the President absolute powers and explained that whatever bill the President wanted to introduce, he needed to consult with Parliament for approval and, therefore, could not take decisions without recourse to Parliament.

Executive and Legislative


He was, however, happy that over the years, the various presidents and parliament had worked cordially and cited the Petroleum Management Bill which was presented to Parliament and received more than 200 amendments proposed by the MPs.

“I thought even the President would reject them, but we worked together and it was signed,” he said.

He said there were various Parliamentary committees such as the Public Accounts Committee and the Government Assurance  that had been set up to inquire into the works of the ministries, agencies and departments, describing that as “another check on the executive”.

Making extensive reference to the American Constitutions, Mr Ghartey said even with that Constitution which was over 100 years, the Americans were still asking questions of the powers of the executive, and added, “so if Ghanaians are asking of such questions, it is in the right direction.”

The potential of every individual

The President of Almond Institute, Bishop Gideon Titi-Ofei, noted that every human being possessed leadership potentials that must be developed and deployed.

He said in ALMOND, “we look at our students as leaders”, and stressed that every great nation was built by great leaders and that the institute was committed to bringing out the potentials in its students.

The Presiding Bishop of the Perez Chapel, Bishop Charles Agyin-Asare, who chaired the lecture, reminded students that their lecturers could give out all the information needed for their learning, “but your responsibility as a student in the classroom is to do something with the information given”.