BONABOTO calls for independent inquiry into missing vehicles

Accra, BONABOTO, a non-partisan civil society organisation has disagreed with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) ruling on the five missing vehicles of the Upper East Regional Health Directorate.

The BONABOTO noted with disappointment the conclusions of the CHRAJ on the five missing vehicles of the Health Directorate and asked government to constitute an independent committee to investigate the issue to bring the matter to a closure.

A statement issued by the organisation, signed by Dr Andrews Akolaa and Mr Denis Akugre, the President and Public Relations Officer of the BONABOTO respectively, to the Ghana News Agency said; Indeed we find the conclusions not only contradictory to the very evidence captured in the same Report but also lame and inconsistent with the basis of the investigations.

A careful study of the decision by the Commission of the 71-page document leaves us wondering if CHRAJ was actually interested in getting to the bottom of this matter. Indeed we are compelled to come to the conclusion that the unilateral decision to investigate this matter was made with the clear intent, either to micro manage the evidence or white wash clear and damnable illegalities and ultimately give clean bills of health to the high profile persons against whom the allegation were made.

The missing vehicles are a Pajero, a VW Passat saloon car, a Toyota Land Cruiser and two Toyota Hilux pick-ups.

The statement said paragraph one of page one and the entire paragraphs in page two of the CHRAJ Report attributed the Commission’s interest in the missing vehicles matter, which was triggered by BONABOTO’s allegation of abuse of office and corruption against Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams, the former Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service and Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, the then Director of the Ghana Health Service, and published in the media.

It said: What this points to at least is that, BONABOTO could be a source of vital information, if not even a material witness. Otherwise, their allegations could not have been a reason for the activation of the entire machinery of CHRAJ for the purpose of this investigation.

Calling persons capable of providing information is a statutory discretion available to CHRAJ. Indeed section 15(2) of the CHRAJ ACT (1993) ACT 456 States: The commission may summon before it and examine on oath or affirmation any other person who the commission considers will be able to give information required under Subsection (1).

Yet in investigating the matter, CHRAJ completely disregarded the rules of natural justice by not finding it rationally appropriate to invite and hear from BONABOTO, the group from which their supposed investigation was premised.

The failure of CHRAJ to exercise its statutory discretion to call BONABOTO does not sit well with the profuse references to BONABOTO in its decision. Surprisingly, CHRAJ accepted documents from the respondents, a preponderantly large number of which were capable of providing nothing.

The statement said the commission should have found out whether Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams and Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira had abused their office or engaged in acts of corruption. CHRAJ in paragraph four of page fifty-eight (58) of its own report defined abuse of office as a departure from the legal and reasonable use and further defined abuse of discretion as failure to exercise sound, reasonable and legal decision making

Interestingly, the commission in paragraph two of page fifty-eight (58) admitted that based on the foregoing, the commission finds that the 1st respondent (Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams) did not fully comply with the transport policy on vehicles movements in the Ghana Health Service in preparing or filling vehicle movement plan/schedule and vehicle request forms .

Yet in a rather bizarre twist, the commission concluded that Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams, who did all this with the blessing of Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, the then Director General of the Ghana Health Service did not abuse their office.

Per CHRAJ’s own definitions, how does complete disregard for rules and policies rationally constitute legal, reasonable and sound decision making? Where does CHRAJ’s conclusion of no abuse of office sit with their own definition?

We are of the conviction that CHRAJ seriously undermined its mandate to deal with the matter and so we are calling for an independent inquiry into this matter for justice to be served the people of Upper East Region.

It must be emphasised that in championing this, BONABOTO’s sole interest is the public good and not aimed at damaging the reputation of any individual, personality or organisation. It is important to put on record that Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams, amongst other public and private officials, was a beneficiary of the BONABOTO’s special recognition and awards for the developmental activities, during his tenure in the Upper East Region.

The CHRAJ in its final report dated June 7, 2018, said its attention was drawn to a media report indicating that a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), which is an association of Bolgatanga, Bongo, Nabdam and Talensi citizens (BONABOTO) had alleged corruption against Dr Koku Awoonor Williams, which the Commission decided to investigate.

The Commission after its investigations concluded as follows; that the five vehicles belonging to the Upper East Regional Directorate of Ghana Health Service (UERDGHS) could not be accounted for following the transfer of Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams from the UERDGHS.

That the five vehicles have been re-assigned to the 1st Respondent and the PPME Unit in the head office of the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

That laid down procedures or the transport policy of the GHS was not fully followed before the vehicles were moved from the duty post.

That the conduct of Dr Awoonor-Williams and Dr Appiah Denkyira does not constitute abuse of power/office or corruption.

The Commission in its final decision said it has not made any adverse findings against the respondents for abuse of office/power as well as corruption.

The allegations in the media to that effect which prompted the Commission to commence the investigations have not been borne out or cannot be substantiated.

Source: Ghana News Agency