An Accra High Court has quashed a report by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) that contained adverse findings against the former Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), A.B. Adjei.
The court presided over by Justice Audrey Kocuvie-Tay, delivered the judgment on July 13, 2023, the High Court,
The Court ruled that CHRAJ violated the fair hearing rule by substituting portions of the original complaint filed by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) with its own allegations. It further concluded that CHRAJ failed to provide the applicant, A.B. Adjei, with the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses called during the investigation before reaching their conclusions.
The court also indicated that CHRAJ neglected to investigate the substantive complaints made by the GII, the complainant in the case. Instead, the Commission focused on matters that were not part of the GII’s submissions.
The case originated from an investigative exposé titled “Contract for Sale” by Manasseh Azure Awuni in 2019.
Following the exposé, the Ghana Integrity Initiative petitioned CHRAJ to investigate Mr. Adjenim Boateng Adjei, the CEO of the PPA, and other members of the PPA Board for potential involvement in corruption, conflict of interest, collusion, and inappropriate conduct that may violate Ghana’s Constitution and laws, seeking appropriate sanctions.
But the court in it’s judgment said nowhere in the complaint of the complainant did they make mention of “failure of [Mr A.B. Adjei] to declare assets made against you” and that “the introduction of this means that CHRAJ for that particular allegation was complainant and any finding therefore was a self-serving exercise by CHRAJ,”.
“The Respondent (CHRAJ) in its decision annexed to the Applicant’s application as Exhibit A surprisingly focused more on this allegation than any of the allegations in the complaint and dedicated 7 pages (from pages 144 to 162) discussing the said failure to declare assets which was not part of the complaint.
“Respondent, however, failed and/or neglected to investigate and address the issue in relation to the subcontracting, subletting and sale of contracts, the crux of the Complainant’s petition. Even Exhibit B2, the video which culminated in the proceedings before the Respondent was titled “Contract for sale. It is, therefore, surprising that the Respondent chose to substitute the complaint of the complainant with its own complaint and proceeded to address the same” the Judgment of the court read.
“I, therefore, hold that not only did the “introduction” spring a surprise on the applicant thereby denying him a fair hearing, since there was no identifiable complainant in respect of the said failure to declare assets, but the investigations conducted by the Commission and the decisions emanating therefrom pursuant to the wrongful assumption of power also were unconstitutional and a nullity to the extent that the Commission did not receive any complaint from any identifiable complainant before investigating a charge of failure to declare assets against the applicant as required by article 218(a) of the Constitution and section 7(1)(a) of Act 456, the Commission wrongly assumed jurisdiction.
“And to the extent that the Commission purported to investigate the charge of failure to declare assets of the applicant when no such allegation had been received by the Commissioner as required by section 7(1)(e) of Act456 and Article 287 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, the Commission wrongly assumed jurisdiction and made its proceedings, the findings and recommendations susceptible to certiorari” Justice Audrey Kocuvie-Tay’s judgement further read.
“There is no dispute that before coming out with their decision the Respondent interviewed certain people. Those interviews in my opinion assisted the Respondent to arrive at their decision as contained in Exhibit A.
“In this light, the Applicant should have been afforded the right to cross-examine those witnesses to ascertain the veracity of any information given to the Respondent which formed the basis of Exhibit A. Failure to give the Applicant the chance to cross-examine the witnesses is, therefore, a breach of the principle of natural justice; particularly the “Audi Alteram Partem” rule” Justice Kocuvie-Tay stated in her judgement.
“On the foregoing authority and for the reasons that the Respondent breached the fair hearing rule by substituting parts of the complaint with its own allegations and failing to give the Applicant the chance to cross-examine the witnesses called by the Respondent, I think it right to consider the application as one at the discretion of the court, and any discretion which this court has, by reason of my view of the merits ought to be exercised by granting the application. In the event, I quash the decision by the Respondent with case no: CHRAJ/297 /2019” Justice Audrey Kocuvie-Tay’s Court concluded.