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Ejura Clash: Ministerial Committee lacks legal mandate to compel witnesses to testify – James Agalga

Ranking Member on Parliament’s Defence and Interior Committee, James Agalga, has stressed that a Commission of Inquiry is best suited to probe circumstances leading to the death of two residents of Ejura Sekyeredumase during a clash with Police and Military personnel on Tuesday.

According to Mr Agalga, the newly constituted Ministerial Committee lacks the legal mandate to compel potential witnesses to assist in its investigations. He noted that this shortcoming will serve as a handicap to the Committee’s work.

Speaking on Joy FM’s TopStory on Thursday, he said: “a Ministerial Committee suffers a lot of limitations. First of all, the procedure that they are going to adopt for accomplishing the task that has been assigned, it is not spelt out in any law.

“So when it comes to matters such as the production of documents, they are going to rely solely on the goodwill of the potential witnesses who may be appearing before it. Even when it comes to getting witnesses to appear and testify, they will also be counting on the goodwill of those witnesses.

“They don’t have the power to compel, as in the case of the Commission of Inquiry. So that for me, is a limitation on how far the Committee could go.”

His comments were in reaction to the establishment of a three-member committee by the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery earlier today. The Committee comprises; George Kingsley Koomson, Justice of the Court of Appeal as Chairman, Security Expert, Dr Vladimir Antwi Danso and Juliet Amoah, Executive Director of Penplusbyte, a civil society organisation.

The setting up of the Committee is in furtherance of President Akufo-Addo’s directive for a public inquiry into the incident. The Committee is required to submit its findings and recommendations by July 9.

Despite saying that he holds the three individuals in high esteem, Mr Agalga questioned the ability of the Committee to probe the very individual who mandated them to look into the matter.

The Builsa North MP noted that the Interior Minister will be a significant witness during the investigations.

“I have no doubt that the Committee members are persons of integrity and will want to acquit themselves well. But having said that, the fact that the members of the Committee itself are people we can count on, will not take away the fact that they are going to work within the constraints associated with Ministerial Committees.

“It being a Ministerial Committee in a way places the one who set it up, the Minister for Interior, who for me with respect to the case that we are handling now, clearly is one that will probably require the interrogation of the Minister himself. Are you sure the Committee has what it takes to summon the very Minister who commissioned it to do its work to appear and testify? I mean we wait to see,” he stated.

Meanwhile, James Agalga has disclosed the Minority’s intention, in accordance with Article 178 to petition the Speaker of Parliament for the House to move the motion for a Commission of Inquiry instead of the Ministerial Committee to probe the death of the two Ejura youth.

“So we clearly still stand by our earlier position that a Commission of Inquiry would have been preferable in the circumstances. We haven’t given up yet. We have put something together – drafted a resolution under Article 178 for the Speaker’s consideration.

“If he responds to us favourably, we would want to move the House to actually force the hand of the President to consider replacing the Ministerial Committee with a Commission of Inquiry to do this job,” he revealed.

The Ejura Sekyeredumase community in the Ashanti Region on Tuesday, June 29, lost two of its youth with four others sustaining injuries, as a result of a clash between peeved protestors and Police and Military personnel.

Muntala Mohammed and Abdul Nasir Yusif were shot during a protest demanding for justice and accountability for the murder of their colleague, Ibrahim Mohammed, aka Kaaka.

The social activist was on Saturday attacked by two assailants in front of his residence. He was pronounced dead on Monday, June 28, by doctors at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where he was being treated.

Following these unfortunate events, members of the general public have called on government to intervene and bring the perpetrators to book.

Already, the Ashanti Regional Police Command has picked up two suspects in the murder of Ibrahim Mohammed and indicated that it has commenced investigations into the death of Muntala Mohammed and Abdul Nasir Yusif.

Source: Ghana News

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