Presidents’ actions must be regulated — Commission

Justice Yaw ApauThe Judgement Debt Commission has recommended that actions by presidents must be regulated and that they should not take unilateral decisions to the detriment of the state.

It specifically expressed worry over a directive by former President John Kufuor to the Attorney General to pay US$2,540,000.00 to Carmi-chaels, on the eve of the expiration of his tenure of office on January 6, 2009.

An amount US$ 240,000 was also paid to the solicitors in charge of the negotiations.

According to the commission, “there is no record to show the basis on which the former President instructed that the state should pay US$ 2,640 to Carmichaels.”

It is the case of compensation claims by the Carmichael family in the Aveyime Livestock Project.

The government white paper on the commission’s report said the directive by the Attorney-General to have the land, which had originally been valued at GH¢33.00 in 1981, revalued was against the law.

“Based on this wrong directive, the land was variously valued at GH¢4,530.00; GH¢77,522.30; GH¢97,800.00, albeit all wrongly computed and all never paid.”

The report said the compensation was paid to the Carmichael family, instead of F.W. Clarke (Gh) Limited who were the owners of the land, and that the indigenous owners of the greater portion of the land had never been paid any compensations.

The report said in the 30-year history of the Carmichael claim, three prominent legal officials of the Attorney-General’s Department got involved — “Attorney-General, Dr. Obed Asamoah in 1994 entreated Cabinet to agree to compensation payment of GH¢4,530.00, but when F.W.Clarke (Gh) Limited, rejected this, he requested cabinet to leave the matter to the Ghana Institute of Valuers for final determination.

Giving the background of the case, the reports explained that one Bates, a foreigner, allegedly married an indigene and through that acquired land in the Avemiye-Battor area where he established a cotton development project.

According to the commission, the Carmichael family who were friends of Bates possibly took over the project when Bates left the country, adding that F.W. Clarke (Gh) Limited acquired the land for Battor Agricultural Industries Limited (BAIL) and appointed D.A. Carmichael, the Managing Director.

The state, by Executive Instrument in 1976, acquired the land for the Aveyime Livestock Project and in 1978, BAIL claimed compensation of GH¢ 33.00 for the land and structures. BAIL accepted GH¢20 for the structure only in 1981.

It added that in 1987, the Attorney General requested the then Land Valuation Board (LVB), to review the valuation placed on the land, but the LVB replied that the State Lands Act 1962 (ACT 125) did not allow for review of valuation.

“Under pressure from the government, however, the LVB re-valued the property in 1993 and raised the value to GH¢4,500.00 which was further reviewed in 2000 to GH¢77,522.30,” it said.

“In the view of the commission, these were all against the laws, especially as it appeared that the business had not even taken off at the time the state compulsorily acquired the land, let alone it being a going concern,” it said.

It said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo in 2001, wrote to the British High Commission indicating his desire to resolve the impasse between the government and F.W.Clarke   represented by the Carmichael family, and requested the Carmichael family to make documents available.

The report said he, however, disagreed with the US$20 million being claimed by the Carmichaels and requested a meeting with them over the matter.

It added that the British High Commission, the late Presidential Advisor on Governmental Affairs, P. V. Obeng, and Baroness Linda Chalker of the United Kingdom, all ,at one time or the other, got involved.

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