THE Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has given strong indications to drag Ghanaian officials cited in the Mabey and Johnson (M&J) bribery scandal to court if they fail to respond to the allegations as requested by the commission.
The two-week period given by CHRAJ to the officials to respond to the allegations to enable it to proceed with its investigations into the matter officially expires today, but as of yesterday the commission had not heard from any of them.
The officials include Dr George Sipa-Adja Yankey, Dr Ato Quarshie, Mr Lord Attivor, Mr Baba Camara, Alhaji Amadu Seidu and Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface.
The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Francis Emile Short, said in Kumasi yesterday that the commission was clothed with the legal authority to move to court to ensure that the investigations proceeded without any hindrance.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Mr Short stated that after all the necessary information had been gathered, the commission would organise a public hearing on the matter.
Following a UK court ruling implicating the officials in the bribery scandal President Mills asked CHRAJ to investigate the allegations and report to him.
But even before the President's directive, CHRAJ had taken the initiative to conduct its own investigations into the case.
When reached for his response to the issue, Dr Yankey said he had responded to the request from CHRAJ before the close of work yesterday and taken. a receipt for it
Mr Short said the commission had written to all the officials involved in the allegations and so it would be surprising for any of them to deny knowledge of the invitation.
That notwithstanding, CHRAJ was determined to proceed with the issue to its logical conclusion, he emphasised.
According to him, his outfit had written to some ministries for information that was vital in dealing with the matter in question.
Besides, the commission had written to the UK office of Mabey & Johnson, as well as the Serious Fraud Office in the UK, for information on the issue but the commission was yet to hear from the latter.
He urged Ghanaians to have time for the commission to delve into the allegation, saying that "issues like this take time to deal with".
"We are aware that Ghanaians want to know the truth; after our investigations we shall inform the President of our findings and from there Ghanaians will get to the truth," he stressed.
Mr Short appealed to the Asantehene for land to enable the commission to put up a befitting regional office in Kumasi.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu commended Mr Short and the commission for the good work they were doing to advance the democratic process.
"CHRAJ plays a crucial role in the democracy we are practising and it is good that it has so far lived up to expectation in the midst of all the challenges," he said.
He noted that the law that established CHRAJ placed it in a position where it did not know the government or a big man somewhere.
"You stand in the middle and Ghanaians expect you to remain so," he added.
The Asantehene said no government in Ghana could deny the existence of corruption during its tenure because governments were made up of human beings.
“Since the birth of the Fourth Republic, for instance, successive governments have accused their predecessors of massive corruption but what is important is how to deal with such issues," he said.
Touching on the threats to judicial independence, Otumfuo Osei Tutu indicated that the system whereby the Judiciary depended on the government for "everything for survival" was a disincentive to judicial independence and democratic governance.
He, therefore, stressed the need for constitutional amendments to address the difficulties that hindered judicial independence.
Responding to CHRAJ’s request for land, the Asantehene gave the assurance that he would direct his land secretariat to work on the request.