8 February 2013

Ghana: No Woyome Case Here ... I'm in Charge

When the Appointments Committee of Parliament resumed sitting yesterday to vet the President's nominees for various ministerial positions; connoisseurs were keen on seeing how the committee

would grill Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Minister-designate for Justice and Attorney-General, especially those bothering on judgment debts.

However, their hopes were dashed when the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Ebo Barton-Odro stamped his authority to prevent committee members from asking the nominee questions on judgment debts. It all started after members had taken the nominee through the first round of questions on her CV when the Vice-Chairman of the committee, Hon. Alfred Agbesi sought audience with Mr. Barton-Odro to question the nominee on how she intends to deal with judgment debts since it has become a major issue of concern to the country.

Moments after asking the question, Mr. Barton-Odro, popularly known as 'No Case', ruled that members stay away from asking any question relating to judgment debt, since there was a Commission currently looking into the issues of judgment debts that have rocked the country. His ruling was not convincing enough to Mr. Agbesi, who insisted that the nominee be allowed to answer the question in the interest of many Ghanaians.

According to the Member of Parliament for Ashiaman, the nation has lost billions of cedis through judgment debts as a result of wrongful cancellation of government contracts awarded to certain individuals and companies and it was important the nominee shares her thoughts on how the country can do away with judgment debts.

Mr. Barton-Odro sensing the implication of Mr. Agbesi's question reasserted his stance on the issue, insisting that members refrain from asking questions bothering on judgment debts. "Hon. Members, no judgment debt questions here. I am in charge. There is currently a Sole Commissioner looking into the issues of judgment debts. I would be prudent for as to wait for his recommendations on

how to handle that matter," he ruled.

Though his ruling was received with mixed feelings, members had no option than to stick to it. Mr. Barton-Odro could have easily been challenged on the issue if the minority members had not abstained from the committee. Their absence, therefore, gave Mr. Barton-Odro a field day to operate.

It was not clear whether Mr. Barton-Odro's comments on the State versus Woyome would have been referred to the nominee to share her thoughts on. Mr. Barton-Odro is on record to have said that the State had no case against businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome's controversial GH¢51m judgment debt awarded him.

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