Freezing of Timbilla, others’ accounts:Legal brains say it is unconstitutional

COP  PATRICK  TIMBILLATHREE legal practitioners have described as unconstitutional, the decision by the Police Council to freeze the bank accounts of the interdicted Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr. Patrick Timbillah and other personnel implicated in the police recruitment scam.

They said it is only a competent court of jurisdiction that could freeze the accounts of the Mr. Timbilla arguing that the decision was against his human rights and individual privacy.

The lawyers, Kwadioga Adawudu, Egbert Fabille Jnr. and Nii Kwei Amassah, told The Ghanaian Times in separate interviews on phone yesterday.

Quoting Article 18(1) of the 1992 Constitution to buttress their point, they argued that “every person has the right to own property either alone or in association with others”.

They said Article 18(2) also states that, “No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication, except in accordance with the law as may be necessary in a free and democratic society for the public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country”.

Mr. Adawuga said individuals account was confidential and that it was only a competent court that could pronounce an order for the account to be frozen.

He said unless the Police Administration had gone to the court to seek an order, it had no right to freeze individuals’ private account.

Mr. Febille Jnr, on his part, said it was totally unacceptable unless a prama facie case had been established against Mr. Timbilla that would warrant his account being be frozen.

According to him, the court could be sued if it tried to freeze the account of Mr. Timbilla without his permission.

Mr. Amassah said as it stood now, Mr. Timbilla was just mentioned in the case and that the Police Council had no right, whatsoever, to freeze his account.

Meanwhile, he said, investigations into the matter had just began and wondered how such an action could be taken without establishing the fact that Mr. Timbilla and the other personnel were involved in the scam.

Besides, he said, there could be several people bearing the name Patrick Timbilla holding accounts with such banks, adding that until it was established that they were involved, any action to trample on their fundamental human rights would be unconstitutional.

According to Mr. Amassah, until investigations revealed that the police officer was involved in the case and consequently put before court and prosecuted, the Council had no power to take such an action.

“What will Mr. Timbilla and the families of the personnel mentioned in the case feed on, let alone pay school fees of their wards if they have no access to their bank accounts,” he questioned.

When contacted, Commissioner of Police, Dr. George Dampare the Director-General of Finance and Patrols said the Special Taskforce was working hand in hand with the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Economic Organised Crime Unit (EOCO) to have the accounts frozen.

As at now, he said, the Special Taskforce had not secured any court order to have the accounts frozen.

The Interior Minister, Mr. Mark Woyongo on Monday told The Ghanaian Times on phone that, the Police Council at a meeting at the Police Headquarters in Accra, took a decision to freeze the accounts of Mr. Timbillah and the other personnel to enable the Special Taskforce Team to conduct investigations into the matter.

By Francis Asamoah Tuffour

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