The Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has denied receiving emolument in his capacity as Secretary to the National Cathedral and called on the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, to retract and apologise to the public for the falsehood he published against him, failing of which he may proceed to court.
The Minister lamented how the MP also accused him of conflict of interest without espousing a legal argument to back his claim. According to him, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa, on June 21, 2022, at 11.09 am, posted on his Facebook wall: “It is quite revealing to observe that when the National Cathedral was incorporated on 18th July, 2019, the then Deputy AG, Godfred Dame, was registered as Secretary. During that same period, he served on the Board of the PPA which approved Adjaye’s irregular sole sourcing contract.”
In a press statement issued in Accra yesterday, Dame said the purported false statement from the MP had received massive public attention, thereby, giving Mr. Okudzeto- Ablakwa the impetus to be granting interviews on various media platforms repeating the same or similar allegations against him.
According to him: “Mr. Ablakwa’s completely dishonest allegations have spurred other members of the public to make similar statements about me, either out of ignorance or plain mischief.”
Mounting a strong defence, he explained that approval of an application to single-source Sir David Adjaye & Associates was granted by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) on December 13, 2018, while the incorporation of the National Cathedral of Ghana was on July 18, 2019.
He explained that at the time of the approval by the PPA Board, which he served on, there was no company known as the National Cathedral of Ghana for him to be Secretary. “If Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa had cared to read or examine the relevant documents well, as he should have, this plain fact would not have been lost on him,” he said.
The Attorney General indicated that the incorporation status of the National Cathedral of Ghana, as a company limited by guarantee, made it a not-for-profit entity and received presidential assent on 24 August, 2019.
As a result, Mr. Dame stated that he was neither a registered director nor a subscriber (member) of the National Cathedral.
“My status as Secretary to the company at incorporation was solely on account of my status as Deputy Attorney-General, and the company was set up by the State in exercise of its full capacity. In fact, the registered subscriber (member or owner) is the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, an organ of State,” he explained.
He continued: “No issue of conflict of interest arises by virtue of my status as Secretary to the company. Article 80(3) of the Constitution prohibits a Minister of State from holding any other office of profit or emolument whether private or public unless with the permission of the Speaker.
“The National Cathedral, registered as a company limited by guarantee, is a not-for-profit entity. My role as Secretary is thus not caught within the ambit of article 80(3). In any event, I have never received any emolument in my capacity as Secretary to the National Cathedral of Ghana.” He reiterated that the above are plain facts that if Mr. Okudzeto- Ablakwa had done a little research or enquiry, he would not have rushed to the media with wild and unfounded allegations.
The Minister pointed out that the record reflected the fact that even in respect of companies limited by liability, the State regularly appoints public officers, including ministers, to serve as members of the Board of Directors to protect the public interest where the State is a shareholder. On this backdrop, he considered the allegations by Mr. Ablakwa as malevolent and ill-inspired for the simple reason that a cursory examination of the facts would have revealed the untruth in them.