Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, October 31, 2014
A private legal practitioner has petitioned the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts over the General Legal Council’s refusal to pay him his entitlements for work done for the Ghana Law School.
John Yaw Opoku who was Deputy Registrar from 2000 and acted in that position till around 2003 at the Law School told Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau that he decided not to make the case public but the attitude of the General Legal Council, the apex body for judicial and legal administration in the country, towards the case had compelled him to file the petition.
Narrating his ordeal yesterday, Mr. Opoku said whilst acting as Registrar following the retirement of the substantive head, the council published as advertisement in the dailies and he duly applied and subsequently applied formally and attended an interview.
He said he never heard anything from the panel until November 21, 2003 when he received a letter terminating his appointment at the Law School saying “I therefore filed a suit in court against the General Legal Council challenging that decision in July 2004.”
He said in the General Legal Council’s statement of defense filed by Hayibor, Gyabeng & Co, they averred that he (Opoku) had planned to seek greener pasture and that was one of the reasons his appointment was terminated.
The petitioner said the High Court presided over by Justice E.F. Dzakpasu on February 25, 2011 delivered judgement in his favour and he subsequently filed entry of judgement in March, same year.
He said in May 2011 he received letters from the Law School acknowledging receipt of his entry of judgement and reminded him that they were sending the process to the Attorney General to study adding that when it delayed, he wrote to the Chief Justice who heads the General Legal Council as well as the AG reminding them of the judgement debt.
Mr. Opoku said when he did not get any response from the defendants he filed a revised entry of judgement in November 2012 from GH¢383,219 to GH¢414,987.25 saying “as at today, I have still not been paid.”
Chief Valuer in charge of Compensation Schedule at the Lands Commission, Kwesi Kobea Bentsi-Enchil also testified on the Volta Basin compensation claims and said from the records, there was due diligence in the whole process.
He said apart from the work of Lands Commission, other state agencies including investigative bodies like the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) now Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO) investigated the backgrounds of the claimants and filed their reports.
Kwadwo Awuah Peasah, Director in charge of Resource Mobilization (Bilateral) at the Ministry of Finance also testified in the Volta Basin saga and said the ministry’s duty was only to send release letter to the Controller and Accountant General after every investigation had been done by the relevant bodies.
Cabinet, in July 2008, approved a consolidated amount of compensation totaling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas and about 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.
Records at the commission revealed that GH¢71 million has been paid so far to the various claimants and the disbursement of the remaining GH¢67million has been put on hold to enable the government deal with discrepancies in the payments.
The records indicate that most of the processes for compensation were done between 2004 and 2008 even though some claims dated back to the 1970s but the actual payments started in 2009.
Some of the witnesses who appeared before the commission have been tendering in evidence site plans that did not have dates but had purportedly used the same documents to claim the money from the Lands Commission.
Some of the documents also bore the names of individual claimants but the witnesses have claimed they were making the claims on behalf of families or clans, a move the Sole-Commissioner has described as ‘irregular’.