The Member of Parliament for the Adansi Asokwa constituency, KT Hammond has dragged the Judgment debt Commission to court over the Commission’s report which indicted him in the sale of the Drill ship belonging to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
KT Hammond who joined the Attorney General to the suit is seeking an order from the High Court to quash the findings of the commission against him.
The MP argues that the commission breached the principle of natural justice in its work and the Sole Commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau also “showed apparent and real bias in favour of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, a witness before the commission.”
Following the recommendations of the Commission, Government in its White Paper on the report of the Judgment Debt Commission in November 2015, directed the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate KT Hammond.
KT Hammond who was the Deputy Energy Minister at the time was to explain to EOCO how he disbursed US$900,000 which was left after the sale of the ship. Mr. Hammond, who had earlier described the report as ‘bogus’, gave the assurance he would appear before EOCO if invited.
A case of bias
But in the latest twist of events, K.T Hammond in his writ said he finds it surprising that the purported report fell short of indicting Tsatsu Tsikata, who was the Chief Executive Officer of the GNPC “under whose watch all these matters had arisen.”
He further in his writ observed that Justice Apau [who was then an Appeals Court Judge] recused himself from a case involving Tsatsu Tsikata hence “having expressed such bias, the learned judge was legally disabled, as a sole Commissioner, to sit on the matter of the Drillship which involved his ‘more than brother’ Mr. Tsikata.” Mr. Apau was quoted by the Enquirer Newspaper in its November 30, 2008 edition as saying “I don’t have the moral courage [to hear the case].
It would be like sitting in judgement over my own brother,’ he said; adding that would be difficult thing for him to do and therefore he was declining to sit on the panel for someone else to replace him.’”
Violation of natural justice
K.T Hammond further argued that “by sitting in judgment in the matter of the Drillship, the Commissioner violated the sacrosanct principle of natural justice.” Mr. Hammond again argued that such instances render the commission’s work “void and nullity because the Commission was deprived of jurisdiction.”
He is thus seeking “an order of certiorari to quash the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into payments from public funds arising from judgment debt and related processes established pursuant to C.I 79, which had Mr. Justice Apaw, then sitting a Justice of the Court of Appeal, as the Sole Commissioner sitting as an inferior tribunal.”