The government has not breached any law by not yet publishing the report of the Commission of Enquiry into the creation of six new regions, the Minister of Regional Reorganisation and Development, Mr Dan Botwe, has stated.
According to him, per Article 280 Clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution, the President had six months to publish the report, while Clause 4 of the same article says the President could even choose not to publish the report by giving reasons it should not be published.
“The report was submitted to the President on June 27, 2018. From June 27 to date is certainly not six months, so there is no violation. The President can also come and say that for certain reasons the report will not be published and that is also constitutional,” he said.
However, the minister said “the President is eager to get the report published and I am sure very soon it will be published, but we should not create the impression that any law has been violated”.
Mr Botwe was answering questions from journalists yesterday on his reaction to a Supreme Court judgement last Wednesday that dismissed a suit challenging the conduct of the referendum in only the proposed new regions.
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Publication of report
The issue of the publication of the Justice S.A. Commission of Enquiry report on the creation of the six new regions has become contentious, with the Minority in Parliament accusing the government of keeping the report to its chest and not making it available.
Speaking at a press conference on November 7, 2017, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, had urged the government to make the report available.
He said the contents of the report had been shrouded in so much secrecy that even Parliament, as a co-equal branch of government, had been officially denied access to it.
But Mr Botwe said the report had been made available to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament when it met to consider the Constitutional Instrument (CI) on the referendum on the new six regions.
“The committee wanted to be sure if the proposed areas were what the commission of enquiry recommended for the creation of the six new regions and also the places where the referendum would be held. During its deliberations in Koforidua, I gave the report to the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson of the committee,’’ he said.
New regions not assured
Mr Botwe also stated that the creation of the new regions was not assured, since the referendum must meet certain criteria.
According to him, the fact that certain interest groups had petitioned the President and the process of the referendum had been initiated did not mean that the creation was a done deal.
Per Article 5 Clause 6 of the 1992 Constitution, 50 per cent of registered voters in the proposed regions must vote, while 80 per cent of the voters must vote in favour for the creation to be accepted.
“It is not an easy thing. Those who have petitioned have a lot of work to do to ensure that the right number of people vote,’’ he said.
Creation of new regions
On August 15, 2017, the Council of State advised President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to appoint a Commission of Enquiry to look into the need to create six regions and make recommendations on all the factors involved in the creation of the regions.
The commission, chaired by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice S. A. Brobbey, was established pursuant to Article 5 of the 1992 Constitution and CI 105 and commenced work on November 21, 2017.
On June 27, 2018, it presented its report to President Akufo-Addo and recommended the creation of six new administrative regions, namely, Oti, Ahafo, Bono East, Western North, Savannah and North East.
The commission recommended to the President that the referendum be limited to the proposed new regions.
Consequently, the EC set December 27, 2018 for the referendum.