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OccupyGhana to sue Attorney-General over suppression of information

OccupyGhana said it was within its rights to receive all information on the Smartty's bus branding transaction, and if the Attorney-General is "unprepared, unwilling and unable to respect the right of the citizen to information" it would sue.

 

OccupyGhana has held true on its threats to take civil action over the Smartty's Bus branding saga, announcing it will sue the Attorney-General after the group was denied information on the impugned transaction.

Just a week ago the civil action group wrote to the Attorney-General and Minister for Transport, requesting all the information surrounding the Smartty’s Bus branding contract that has been impugned by the Attorney-General after it was revealed the Ministry of Transport paid Smarttys Management and Productions 3.6 million for the rebranding of 116 Metro Mass Transit buses.

Since then, Minister of Transport Dzifa Attivor resigned and the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah ordered the Attorney General and Minister for Justice to recover GH¢1.9 million from Smartty’s Management Limited.

The money is to be repaid by the end of March this year.

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However, OccupyGhana was not satisfied with the case ending with the resignation and refund.

It had called for all information surrounding the impugned bus branding contract to be made public and said it was the constitution right of citizens to access it.

Denied the information by the Attorney-General's office because the case is before the court, OccupyGhana said it would not accept the excuse and said “if the Attorney-General is unprepared, unwilling and unable to respect the right of the citizen to information, then we have no other recourse but to resort to court action”.

In a statement, the group said it was within its rights to receive the information and the Government was not protected by public interest privilege as the group believes that most of the circumstances surrounding the impugned transaction amounted to corruption, misuse and waste of public funds, and the government was blocking the release of the information.

OccupyGhana speculated that if the information was released it might find the bus branding job was actually concluded and the money paid even before the Ministry of Transport wrote to Smartty’s for a quotation for the job; and that even before the same Ministry of Transport applied for approval for single-source procurement from the Public Procurement Authority.

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“The vacuous and trifling nature of this excuse fortifies our belief that the government has something to hide, and that all efforts are being made to ensure that the information surrounding this impugned transaction, particularly the Attorney-General’s own far-reaching report on the matter, are suppressed to protect certain persons who acted in that transaction, from exposure and possible prosecution,” the statement said.

They added the response from the Attorney-General was “worrying” considering the arguments of this same Attorney-General in support of the constitutional right of the citizens to information, in the very recent Supreme Court case of Dery v. Tiger Eye & 2 Others.

“The court rightly reminded all persons that true justice and power flow from the people, who have a right to know.”

“We are saddened by this blatant attempt by none other than the Attorney-General of this country to deny citizens the right to know what happened to their money.”

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