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Law lecturer cautions Sole Commissioner on his powers

A senior law lecturer at GIMPA, Ernest Kofi Abotsi is asking the Sole Commissioner investigating judgment debts payments to tread cautiously in order not to arrogate to himself powers that are above his office.
The Chief Director at the Finance Ministry, the Controller and Accountant General, and the Solicitor General showed up at the Commission’s first sitting on Tuesday to testify albeit late.
The Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Appau, when all had thought the individuals invited may not appear, posited that he has the powers of the High Court to order their arrest and the powers of the police to enter their property to search and seize documents that would assist investigations.
The Commission has been tasked to investigate all inordinate payments of judgement debts since the 1992 constitution came into force including the alleged fraudulent payment of GH¢51 million to businessman Alfred Woyome.
But Kofi Abotsi, on Joy FM’s Top Stop remarked that although the Commission can enforce the attendance of witnesses and examine them, its powers are limited.
He also mentioned that persons who are subpoena to appear before the Commission has a recourse go to court if not happy.
“The Commission doesn’t have general powers, it is very important for us to understand… The Commission doesn’t have all the powers of the High Court, the Commission has specific powers of the High Court in three key areas.
“An these areas are in terms of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and therefore issuing subpoenas; in terms of compelling production of documents; and the third one is in terms of issuing commission to examine people who cannot attend court session.”
He however doubted if the Commission can have the power of the police to enter, search and seize property.
Commenting on a criminal point of view, Mr Abotsi explained, the police can enter premises and search them but, “I do not think it falls within the ambit of the Commissioner. I think if the Commission wants that, the Commissioner would have to appear before a court as a regular complainant and then the court can then make an order, specifically, authorizing the Commission or authorizing the police to act on behalf of the Commission.”

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