The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has subpoenaed the national chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), over his purchase of some 275 Toyota Hiace Buses in 2017, for the party’s 275 constituencies offices across the country.
Freddie Worsemao Armah Blay, had promised to provide buses for the party’s constituencies, as part of his campaign to win the chairmanship slot at the party’s National Delegates Conference in Koforidua in the Eastern Region in July last year.
Indeed, Mr Blay, took delivery of the buses and shared same to the constituencies and won the slot thereafter.
Strangely, however, Mr Blay, a lawyer with many years standing, is treating the constitutionally established anti-corruption body with contempt by refusing to respond to its demands, including submitting some documents to the institution.
In this regard, CHRAJ, has also threatened to haul the NPP national chairman before a competent court of jurisdiction, if he fails to present relevant documents for the investigation to commence.
The CHRAJ letter to Mr Blay, who reportedly made a US$3 million part-payment for the 275 Toyota buses, was written and signed by the Commissioner, Joseph Whittal, himself.
In letter dated April 11, 2019, which The Herald intercepted, the Commission, said it was investigating complaints leveled against Mr Blay by the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) alleging “corruption, abuse of office and contravention or non-compliance with Code of Conduct for Public Officers under Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution against your good self as a Public Officer”.
It is the second time CHRAJ, was writing Mr Blay.
The Commission had earlier subpoenaed the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Elembele in the Western Region, on the ticket of the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) and a former First Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
The earlier subpoena dated January 21, 2019, to help delve into the controversial 275 buses purchased almost a year ago, was snubbed by him.
CHRAJ, quoted relevant portions of the Constitution to back its mandate to investigate the petition and asked the NPP’s national chairman, to endeavour to submit the required documents by Aril 18, 2019, or it will be forced to cite him for contempt before a court of competent jurisdiction.
The two-page letter warned “please be reminded that, the Commission has taken into consideration your circumstances in repeating this reminder and you are by this letter requested to submit to the Commission, CHRAJ, the said documents stated in the subpoena by the 18th April, 2019. Failure to do so will compel the Commission to cite you for contempt before a Court of competent jurisdiction. Be advised accordingly”.
The Commission, said it first letter, requesting him to provide certain specified documents in respect of the allegations made against him by the Coalition, was not responded to.
Details of the letter in the possession of Herald, said Mr Blay’s failure to respond to the Commission’s initial letter led to the April 11, letter.
The Commission said “The allegation made against you are in respect of the alleged purchase of 275 Toyota Hiace Buses for the 275 Constituencies of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) pursuant to Article 218 (a) and (e) and 287 of the Constitution 1992, Section 7 (I) (a) (f) of CHRAJ Act, 1993 (Act 456) and Section 8 of the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550)”.
In July 2018, ahead of the NPP national executive election held at Koforidua, the then acting National Chairman, made the news for weeks, after he imported 275 Toyota Hiace Buses for each Constituency across the country.
Many, including contenders in that national chairmanship race, impugned corruption and bribery in the purchase of the buses at the time.
This led to the Coalition for Social Justice alleging corruption, and petitioning CHRAJ for a detailed investigation, however, since the petition was presented to CHRAJ and Mr Blay, written to, he has ignored the constitutional body.
As at the time of going to press, it is not clear, the NPP chairman, had responded to the April 11, letter.