CHRAJ: We won’t investigate parliamentary bribery scandal

Joseph Whittal Dept. Dir. of CHRAJ

Joseph Whittal Dept. Dir. of CHRAJ

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has rejected a petition by one Nana Kusi-Poku Listowel, requesting the commission to conduct an urgent investigation into the bribery scandal that hit Parliament last month.

It said instead of opening a fresh investigation into the matter, the commission would wait for the outcome of the investigations by the five-member ad hoc committee of Parliament on the matter.

A report signed and copied The Ghanaian Times yesterday by the Commissioner, Joseph Whittal said it was only prudent that CHRAJ holds on and wait for the final report of the ad hoc committee, who were currently holding a public sitting televised live on air.

Nana Poku on February 6, petitioned the commission following the bribery allegation against some members of the august house by the Member of the Parliament for Bawku Central in the Upper East Region, Mahama Ayariga.

In his petition, Nana Poku asked CHRAJ to “commence investigation into the alleged bribery scandal and forgo other investigation especially that of the committee of enquiry set by Parliament since they are the alleged committers of and actors in this matter in question”.

However, the report indicated that the commission would take a back seat on investigations into the bribery allegations and would not open similar investigations until the committee finished its work.

It said CHRAJ would not completely recuse itself from investigating the matter, but would hold an investigation in abeyance.

“CHRAJ has decided not to exercise its discretion to decline investigating the allegations altogether; but rather, at this stage, to hold its investigation in abeyance awaiting the outcome of the committee’s findings,” the report stated.

CHRAJ in its assessment of the petition brought before it by one Nana Kusi-Poku Listowel, explained that its decision was premised upon section 13 (1) (a) and (b) of Act 456, 1993, which allows the Commission to decline to investigate a complaint if there is adequate remedy for the complaint or it is deemed unnecessary.

The report further said CHRAJ has thus deferred to Parliament, which has set up a five-member committee to investigate the bribery allegation following a petition by some Minority Members of Parliament who levelled the bribery allegation against the Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko.

CHRAJ in its report said it was satisfied with Parliament’s investigative committee’s work so far, which is holding public sittings as a means of ensuring transparency.

But the commission noted that “it would not hesitate to assert its broad constitutional mandates should circumstances after the committee’s proceedings and after perusing its report warrant further investigation into the matter.”

CHRAJ reminded that these corruption allegations that have rocked Parliament fall within its purview.

“The Commission is mindful of the fact that the crux of the allegations under enquiry touch and concern the conduct of Constitutional Public officers which ultimately falls within the ambit of Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution thereby making CRAJ the relevant constitutional forum for redress as affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Ablakwa (NO. 2) v Jake Otanka Obestsebi-Lamptey (2012) 20SCGLR 846,” it said.

By Charles Amankwa

 

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