Kufuor is asking for a truly independent Public Commission of Enquiry to investigate this Woyome case for Ghanaians to know the “truth.” His strong objection to the task being performed by EOCO seems to be fed by suspicions, fears, and doubts about the integrity of the EOCO.
Here is the crux of the matter. Kufuor doesn’t base his stance on anything else but the suspicion, apprehension, or doubt surrounding the process of investigation and the body tasked to do this investigation. Let’s hear him in his own words, “For the President to direct that we should appear before EOCO, his creation….incidentally the law also makes EOCO answerable to the Attorney General office, but by all the accounts the office of primary suspicion is the Attorney General’s office.”
But is EOCO President Mills’ “creation”, as Kufuor will have us believe? Kufuor’s fear, then, is that because the EOCO is subservient to the A-G’s Office—which itself is heavily implicated in this scandalous malfeasance—it can’t be trusted to perform this function impartially.
Furthermore, because the EOCO’s report will be submitted to the A-G’s office for scrutiny before being forwarded to the government for action, no one knows whether the report will be doctored or not. Or whether the A-G’s Office (what Kufuor calls “the office of first suspect in this whole saga”) will tele-guide the investigation and skew the outcome. Better still, the fear exists that the investigation will be warped to the disadvantage of the NPP.
These are very genuine concerns that no one must disregard. Knowing very well how unconscionable our public office holders and government officials can be—especially in cases involving their personal interests—I don’t begrudge Kufuor for nursing such genuine concerns.
Stretching the matter further, though, I disagree with Kufuor and his NPP’s defiance. So far, he hasn’t questioned the competence of the EOCO as far as performing this function is concerned. He seems to have put that aspect aside as he concentrates solely on the fear that the A-G’s Office might pull strings to skew the investigation.
In the quest for the truth about this Woyome case, shouldn’t competence be the main object of interest and not the apprehensions, doubts, and suspicions based on dangerous speculation?
Of course, having superintended over the apparatus of state, I suspect strongly that Kufuor is better positioned to know more about the rot therein than I can ever bring myself to know. It is this knowledge that informs his doubts, apprehensions, and suspicions. The problem, then, is that regardless of how competent the EOCO may be, its operations are likely to be tainted by the rot in which it is enmeshed.
Regardless of his stance, the Woyome case needs tackling. If the EOCO is competent enough to investigate a matter that falls within its constitutionally defined and mandated purview, nothing prevents it from being tasked to do so. Unless we consider the legality or otherwise of this role as Dr. Kofi Abotsi (a law lecturer at the KNUST) has implied, I see nothing wrong with EOCO’s being tasked to investigate the matter.
The only issue that can prevent the EOCO from doing so is whether this judgement debt payment was authorized by the order of the court that handled the matter, which is Dr. Abotsi’s main argument. If that is the case, then, will it be legally permissible for the EOCO to re-open a case that has been determined and concluded? Or is the matter to be re-visited only at a higher court and not through the EOCO?
If that is the only possibility, then, how should we view Kufuor’s insistence that a public inquiry should be the best means to investigate the matter, and which he and his former government functionaries will be willing to cooperate with in unraveling the circumstance surrounding this Woyome case?
In settling on a public inquiry, Kufuor seems to suggest that proceedings will be done in the open to allow the public know the facts. He has already stated that his government didn’t contract Woyome to look for any money for Ghana and would be willing to make his government’s known at that public inquiry if set up.
I have no misgiving against his call for a public inquiry, no matter how long it may take the Mills government to respond to it if it indeed chooses that line of pursuing the case. After all, Kufuor himself set up the National Reconciliation Commission and ensured that its proceedings were held in the open. The main point, however, is that nothing beneficial to this country resulted from this Commission’s work to warrant his putting all his trust in it as the be-it-all-and-end-it-all.
The so-called victims of the Rawlings era excesses appearing before it didn’t all get the monetary compensations due them to suggest that the Commission solved the problems that they narrated during its sittings. No reconciliation has taken place in the country ever since the Commission folded up and submitted its report to Kufuor.
This country has had several public inquiries over the years, but nothing exists to point to their particularly significant benefit to the country. Their reports have gathered so much dust on shelves as to render significant only as archival research materials only.
Knowing very well the uselessness of such bureaucratic mechanisms, I hesitate to support Kufuor’s insistence on a public inquiry. I also doubt whether the Mills government has the political will to institute what Kufuor is asking for. In this election year, no one seeking re-election will want to do any rash thing to undercut himself.
That is where the dust settles for us to see clearly the true nature of our leaders. It seems political expediency has taken a better part of their considerations in public service. President Mills is indeed not acquitting himself well in this Woyome scandal. He is on record for having said that he didn’t know anything about the payment of that colossal sum of money to Woyome. Then again, he has been reported as saying that he didn’t see anything wrong with that payment only to turn round to task the EOCO to investigate the case.
If we want to take him on his own pronouncements, we can say that he is more than confused at this point. To worsen the matter, why should he ask EOCO to investigate the case, knowing very well the legal constraints—a case already determined by a court of competent jurisdiction cannot be re-opened for investigation by a body outside the court’s ambit!
EOCO may have its constitutional backing to justify whatever it does, but it can’t circumvent the legal constraints. So, with all his knowledge about the law behind him, couldn’t President Mills have known better not to worsen the situation? Ghanaians have been too patient and are suffering for it.
I don’t want to impute any ill-motive to him, but I am guided by the goings-on to think that something is not adding up well, probably because someone in authority wants to protect Woyome, who is a major financier of the NDC.
But we can’t gloss over the fact that this scandal has dented the government’s image so much as to render it incredibly vulnerable. Added to all other instances of impropriety and the government’s fumbling and bumbling in attempting to solve the country’s problems, I am more than persuaded that the NDC has a tough call to respond to as it begins its electioneering campaigns toward Election 2012.
What of anybody’s conscience is left now to be proud of? On whom will Ghanaians bank any hope to do the right thing to solve the country’s problems?
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor