The Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday declined an application of Dr Dominic Ayine, Counsel for Mr Delali Kwesi Brempong and Mr Sam George to cross-examine witnesses that appeared before it.
It would be recalled that on Wednesday, February 20, Dr Ayine made the application during the testimony of Mr Brempong, that the Commission recall witnesses who had made statements that were linked to his clients for him to cross-examine them.
However, Mr Francis Emile Short, the Chairman of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of Inquiry declined to grant the petition at the end of the Commission’s cross-examination of Mr Sam George, the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram.
Mr Short said Counsel (Dr Ayine) based his application on Section 11 (1) C and 12 (2) of the Commission of Inquiry Practice and Procedure Rules 2010.
Section 11 (1) C: “The Lawyer for the Commission is responsible for the re-examination of the witness after the cross examination of the witness by any other lawyer appearing before the Commission”.
Mr Short noted that that Section 11 (1) C refers to re-examining by the lawyer for the Commission and not by Counsel for any witness appearing before the Commission.
Section 12 (2): “The Lawyer or an expert witness appearing for the person whose conduct is the subject of the inquiry may cross-examine a witness”.
Mr Short said neither Mr Delali Brempong nor Mr Sam George was a person whose conduct was the subject of this particular enquiry.
“The Commission seeks to give all witnesses appearing before it the opportunity to testify and supply information as much as possible as may be required for the completion of its work.
“It this regard, all witnesses are allowed the opportunity to make statements, tender evidence, response to questions and advise the Commission on all matters connected to the investigations,” Mr Short said.
He said however, it was important to bear in mind that this was an investigative body.
“……The work of the commission, unlike that of a regular court, is not to decide what the balance of rights and liabilities are between competing parties and the rules of evidence do not apply in the same way or sense,” Mr Short stated.
He noted that consequently, the evidential methodology of the Commission was different from that of the court.
He said allowing for Counsels to recall witnesses for cross examination before the Commission, would have the effect of converting the nature and input of Commission’s work and transform its public enterprise character into proceedings in defence of private rights.
He said this might also undermine the freedom of witnesses to testify before the Commission.
Dr Ayine expressed gratitude to the Chairman for his elaborate ruling on the matter; stating that he was comforted in the fact that the ruling means that no adverse findings of any kind would be against the two persons that he represented before the Commission.
“Because I am very mindful of the Constitutional consequences of any adverse findings. For instance, in his (Mr Sam George) case, he could actually be expelled from Parliament and in the case of Brempong, he would be disqualified from standing for election as a Member of Parliament,” he said.
Dr Ayine said, he and his legal team would study the ruling to see whether there were further steps to take.
The Commission was set up by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to conduct a far-reaching investigation into the violence that broke out on January 31, during the Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary by-election.
It is under the chairmanship of Mr Francis Emile Short, a former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Other members of the Commission are Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, an eminent professor in criminal law and Mr Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, a former IGP; with Dr Ernest Kofi Abotsi, a private legal practitioner, and a former Dean of the GIMPA Law School, as the Secretary.