The Sole Commissioner of the judgement debt probe, Justice Yaw Apau, has expressed concern about government’s failure to insure state property, leading to their loss in the event of disaster.
He said there were many government vehicles, buildings and other property that were not insured and so anytime something happened to them, they were lost forever.
His comments at the resumption of public sittings of the commission in Accra yesterday were triggered by a question posed to him by a Chief State Attorney, Madam Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, as to whether the new premises of the commission at Cantonments in Accra was insured.
The Chief State Attorney wanted to be sure that documents she was submitting upon the request of the commission would be safe.
Her question must have been informed by the pack of documents that the commission lost when fire gutted its former offices at the Old Parliament House last December.
Justice Apau did not respond to the Chief State Attorney’s question, leaving doubts as to whether the new premises of the commission, which used to house the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), has been insured and whether its documents are safe from fire disaster.
On December 18,2013, fire I gutted the Old Parliament House on the High Street in Accra, destroying documents and other items and caused the Judgement Debt Commission to suspend its public sittings for three months.
Prior to that incident, many other government facilities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, had been burnt while other state properties had also been destroyed in other circumstances.
Justice Apau said it was important for the government to insure state properties so that whenever they were destroyed by fire or any other incident, they could be replaced.
The Sole Commissioner said the fire that gutted the Old Parliament House had caused substantial destruction to documents and equipment of the commission, “but thanks to the vigilance of our ICT personnel, we have all the proceedings".
He said the work of the commission could, therefore, not be affected by the fire incident and “so we’ll continue from where we left off”.
Officially, the Judgement Debt Commission has three months left to wrap up its work in June, but with a three-month time lapse as a result of the suspension of work, and given the job that remains to be done, it is doubtful whether the commission will meet the deadline.
While expressing the commitment of the commission to do its best to deliver on schedule, Justice Apau said it would not hesitate to seek an extension of time from the President.
He said as part of efforts to speed up work, the commission would extend its sittings (on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) to Thursday, and in some instances, Friday.
When the commission resumed its public sittings after a three-month break, and at its new premises at Cantonments, the I head of the Bentiemena Clan of Jasikan, Nana Sankrankye Attah, was the first person to appear before it.
His testimony on matters relating to payment of compensation to his kinsmen for land acquired by the state revealed yet another intriguing story of judgement debt payments that had become a familiar episode at the commission's public hearings.
Nana Sankrankye Attah said he had given the power of attorney to Emmanuel Ofori to pursue the payment of compensation amounting to GHc42,170 for the acquisition of a 32.68-acre land on behalf of the Bentiemena Clan.
However he said, he had since not seen or heard anything from the said Ofori, only to hear later that Ofori had, without his (Nana's) knowledge and consent, initiated a court action and secured a default, judgement for the payment of GHc760,000 as compensation fee the land in question.
“I don't know anything about this,” he exclaimed, and pleaded with the commission to ask the government to stop the payment of the said judgement debt.
Officials of the Attomey-General’s Department also appeared before the commissiont to furnish it with documents on some judgement debt payments.