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Akufo-Addo replies Mahama on clearing agent claims: I will not circumvent due process

President Akufo-Addo said that mere allegation against his appointees is not enough to condemn them and that due process must be followed

President Akufo-Addo has stated that no matter how much scorn his predecessor, John Dramani Mahama throws at him by stigmatising him as a clearing agent, he will not do anything to sidestep due process and the principles of natural justice over allegations of corruption labeled against his appointees.

Addressing attendees of the commissioning ceremony of the “Law House” (Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice) at the forecourt of the 10-story building, today, Monday, 10 June 2024, President Akufo-Addo said that mere allegation against his appointees is not enough to condemn them and that due process must be followed as prescribed the statute books of the country.

“I am sure we are all aware of the statement by the former president, perennial NDC presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama, stigmatising me as a clearing agent because for him, mere allegations without more, is enough to merit condemnation of an accused public official especially, one in my administration,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“For my part and let me state it again for the record, I will not set aside due process and the rules of natural justice on the altar of the fight against corruption no matter how much opprobrium this position incurs for me” President Akufo-Addo further remarked in his address.

Law and order

Emphasising this, President Akufo-Addo said, “The rule of law is the best protection of individual liberty in good times and in bad times”. He further assured that his administration throughout 2024 (the election), will ensure that law and order prevail in the country.

“I want to use the opportunity of this platform to reassure the Ghanaian people that the law enforcement agencies of the state including the office of the Attorney General will do all within their power to ensure that law and order prevail in the country at all times especially, during this critical election year,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“We will not allow peace, security, and stability of the nation that has made Ghana a beacon democracy on the African continent to be compromised on the altar of the ambitions of any political party or presidential candidate. It will not happen,” the President further said.

The Law House

President Akufo-Addo in his address said the completion of the “Law House” stands as a testament to the NPP government’s commitment to addressing the age-old office accommodation problem that has plagued the Attorney General’s office and the Ministry of Justice for far too long.

“This state-of-the-art facility will now house the office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice providing a conducive environment for the efficient administration of the law in our country.

“The importance of this building goes beyond its physical. It symbolizes our strong dedication to upholding the tenets of the rule of law which is the bedrock of any thriving democracy,” President Akufo-Addo remarked.

“The rule of law ensures that no one is above the law, that is the concept of equality before the law is respected, that justice is administered fairly and impartially, and that the rights and freedoms of every citizen are protected. It is the foundation on which we build an equitable, free, and just society” Akufo-Addo further remarked.

Presidential commendation

The president, in his address, expressed his gratitude to the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, his two deputies, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah and Diana Asonaba Dapaah, and the entire leadership of the department and ministry for his dedication to ensuring that what had become another abandoned government project was revived and completed.

“I must at the onset, pay glowing tribute to the work undertaken by the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, in bringing us to this day. We assumed office as Attorney General in 2021, after 4 years as Deputy Attorney General, the completion stages of the “Law House” project was as we have been told, at 36%,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“His commitment together with my support was instrumental in reviving and bringing the project to completion. His efforts ensured that this initiative which could have easily ended up as an abandoned government project was implemented to become the impressive structure that we are celebrating. He has done a yeoman’s job and I say a hearty “Ayekoo” to him” the President added.

Unwavering support

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, in his remarks, stated that he is pleased to be the Attorney General under whose tenure the “Law House” has been completed.

He observed that after receiving complaints and get into the same, about the poor working environment that State Attorneys were forced to work in after he assumed office as the Attorney General in March 2021, he purposed in his heart that he would get the buy-in of the President and the minister of finance then, Ken Ofori-Atta, to complete the “Law House”.

To his pleasure, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the finance minister then, Ken Ofori-Atta, offered him their full blessing and support for the project to be completed. Nearly 4 years on, the same has been completed.

“In all of this, the utmost cooperation of the President and his Minister for Finance was phenomenal. Sir, I sat down with you, I was the beneficiary of your kindness and goodwill. In the face of many competing demands on the public purse, your unique recognition of the importance of the legal sector to national development and the need to satisfy the critical needs of the sector were simply remarkable.

“I perceive the President’s commitment to this project as divine. He was responsible for the inception of the project as Attorney-General and he was the man to commission it as President of the Republic. Hardly have the stars aligned to make a story so remarkable!” the AG, Godfred Yeboah Dame stated.

“Following a special appeal I made to Cabinet in June 2021, the Minister for Finance at the time, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, assured me of the regular release of funds to support the construction of the Law House and he honoured his word” the Attorney General added.

Modern public legal service

In his statement, the Attorney General further observed that he dreams “of a modern public legal service for our nation fully equipped to live up to its onerous constitutional and statutory duties of rendering competent legal advice to the Republic of Ghana, and, representing the State in the complexities of modern-day local and international transactions.”

The “Law House” according to the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, “represents a giant step towards realising that dream. Consisting of 12 stories – ten stories above ground and a two-tier basement for a car park – it is a model for the efficiency of the use of public land”.

“In addition to the good number of offices for state attorneys, it boasts of a vast conference room, a canteen, two libraries, rooms for pupils, interns, and researchers, kitchenettes, and a big space on the 10th floor for parties.

“The Attorney-General’s facilities include a conference room which can seat about thirty people whilst there are two specific suites for two deputy Attorneys-General including a study and a room for their assistants,” the AG said in description of the “Law House” facility.

Background to the project

The as-built project period spanned the tenures of four presidents, John Kufuor, Professor Atta Mills, John Dramani Mahama, and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (about 24 years).

The works, including the preparation of drawings, preparation of contract documents, and obtaining of relevant permits and statutory approvals, actually commenced in 2001 in the tenure of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the then Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. The project site was handed over to the contractor on July 23, 2001.

The various Attorneys General and Ministers for Justice in whose tenure part of the works were carried out are Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (2001 – 2003), Papa Owusu-Ankomah (2003-2005), Ayikoi Otoo (2005-2006), Joe Ghartey (2006 – 2009), Betty Mould-Iddrisu (2009 -2011), Martin Amidu (2011 – 2012), Benjamin Kumbuor (2012 – 2013), Marrietta Brew Appiah-Opong (2013-2017), Gloria Akuffo (2017 – 2021) and Godfred Yeboah Dame (2021 to date).

By the time Godfred Yeboah Dame assumed the mantle as Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the state of completion of the entire works was 36%: Although not meant to downplay the contributions of other Ministers before him, it is worth mentioning the unique role played by the current Attorney General, (2021 to date) with the backing of the Cabinet of President Akufo-Addo.

The special personal commitment by the Minister, in ensuring the completion of the project, gave it the much-needed lifeline. This played a crucial role in turning the project from one of the numerous abandoned government projects that have plagued the nation into the magnificent and usable completed edifice we have today.

Brief description of the project

At the initiation stage, the project was planned to be an 8-story office facility. This was subsequently revised to a 10-story structure with two-level basements.

The “Law House” boasts of a significant number of office spaces to house the head office of the entire Ministry and convenient parking spaces for vehicles in the two-tier basements.

Planning and execution stages

M/S Energo Projekt Ghana Limited (Energo Projekt) was awarded the contract for the construction of the project at an initial cost of Twenty-One billion, one hundred and thirty million, one hundred and eighty- three thousand, four hundred and eighty-five cedis only to be delivered within forty (40) calendar months.

By 2005, the contract sum had been revised to GH¢ 50,000,000,000.00 (Fifty Billion Cedis) only, essentially as a result of scope creep and fluctuation. The project went through similar modifications until it was re-awarded. The project site was handed over to the contractor on July 23, 2001.

Due to several challenges enumerated below, the official sod cutting was performed on July 15, 2005, by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Ayikoi Otoo. After resolving other project challenges, excavation for the basement works and fixing of cranes started in the latter part of November 2005.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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