The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, will proceed to court to attempt to quash extraneous matters in a report by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on the issuance of the $2.25-billion bond last year.
The report has formed the basis for a fresh demand by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the Finance Minister to resign or be sacked by the President.
At a press conference in Accra on Thursday, the Information Minister, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said CHRAJ made pronouncements on issues on assets declaration, the issuance of bonds and other matters “that it was not seized with the capacity to make”.
Mr Abdul-Hamid was reacting to a press conference held last Wednesday by the Minority in Parliament calling on the Minister of Finance to either resign or be sacked by the President.
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What the Minority had said
The Minority had said the report by CHRAJ cited the Minister of Finance for breaches of the law, guidelines and processes in the $2.25-billion bond issuance.
At the Minority press conference, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, gave a 14-working-day ultimatum, beginning from last Wednesday, to the minister to resign or for the President to sack him.
He said failure by the minister to resign or the President to sack him would compel the Minority to invoke a motion of censorship, in accordance with Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution, "to remove him from office as soon as possible".
But Mr Abdul-Hamid dismissed the claims by the Minority, explaining that when the case was brought before CHRAJ, “it was established that their (Minority’s) claim was baseless and without merit”.
He said as a player in a democracy, it was expected that the NDC would take the CHRAJ ruling in its stride and move on, “but it seems that the Minority is determined to keep this matter going, even if for nuisance purposes”.
Mr Abdul-Hamid explained that even when the CHRAJ report had found that the substantive case brought before it by Brogya Genfi, the Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the NDC, had failed, it offered the NDC a leeway to “do the kind of mischief that they are doing”.
“The report states that Ken Ofori-Atta failed to declare Databank in his Assets Declaration to the Auditor-General.
“I have seen Ken Ofori-Atta’s Assets Declaration Form and I wish to state that Databank was declared as an institution in which he holds shares.
“It is important to state that CHRAJ’s refusal to call Ken Ofori-Atta to explain this item on his Assets Declaration Form was a travesty of justice and fails the test of natural justice,” the Information Minister contended.
Issuance of bond
He further added that CHRAJ went beyond the matter of conflict of interest to make other pronouncements, stating that it could only make pronouncements on the conflict of interest situations and not the issue to do with bond issuance and its ancillary subjects.
“That subject, per the Securities Industry Act (Act 929), is reserved for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the same vein, the matter of asset declaration was not before CHRAJ and CHRAJ was, therefore, not seized with the power to pronounce on it.
“We find that it is these extraneous matters which CHRAJ commented on that have become the ammunition with which the NDC has started a new round of attacks,” Mr Hamid further explained.
Psychological effect on NDC
He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) understood the psychological effect the NDC hoped to attain by “constantly assailing Ken Ofori-Atta”.
“We can understand the discomfort that the NDC feels with the great work that has been done in re-ordering the messy economic fundamentals that the NDC bequeathed to us.
“They have, therefore, adopted what, in some football circles, is termed ‘if you miss the ball, don’t miss the man’,” he said.
He extolled Mr Ofori-Atta’s qualities, describing him as “a blessing to the country that we have as Finance Minister, somebody who has enormous experience in international finance and banking. Such experience can only be a blessing for Ghana”.
In March last year, Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi petitioned CHRAJ to investigate the issuance of the $2.25-billion bond, on the grounds that Mr Ofori-Atta had attempted to “promote a personal interest for himself, as well as his family and friends, which interfered with the objective exercise of his duties”.
The commission, in its findings, stated that although it found no concrete evidence of conflict of interest against the minister, the minister breached several procedures.