Private legal practitioner, Nana Adjei Baffuor-Awuah, says the shocking revelation that the Gitmo 2 have been granted refugee status by the Executive on the blind side of Parliament highlights the need for strong institutions to check abuse of power.
Nana Adjei Baffuor-Awuah led two private citizens to obtain a favourable declaration from the Supreme Court that it was unconstitutional for the John Mahama-led government to have allowed the US to bring two former Guantanamo Bay detainees to Ghana.
Margaret Bamful and Henry Nana Boakye sued the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as the Minister of the Interior in 2016, accusing the government of illegally bringing in Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby without recourse to the laws of the land.
Commenting last Thursday on revelations that the two former terror suspects were granted refugee status in 2016, Mr Baffuor-Awuah said his encounter with the case has been a journey through a maze of deception and lies.
Related: Mahama tied our hands with GITMO 2 refugee status – Gov’t cries foul
“It came to me as a surprise when I heard they have been accorded a refugee status. From the records that were disclosed [on Wednesday] by the Foreign Affairs Minister, clearly from the time they were accorded that status, the case was still pending in court,” he said.
Nana Adjei Baffuor-Awuah made the comments on current affairs programme, PM Express hosted by Nana Ansah Kwao IV, on Joy News, a MultiTV channel.
He noted that the Supreme Court declaration on the matter was made in 2017 but unknown to both the apex court and the plaintiffs, the two former Gitmo inmates had been accorded refugee status.
“Clearly it is a matter that should have been brought to the attention of the court. They [the defendants] have withheld information from the court and it is highly unethical. This matter has been a chain of lies,” he lamented.
In another instance, he recalled the vehement opposition mounted by then-Deputy Attorney General, Dominic Ayine, to disclose the agreement that Ghana signed with the US for the transfer of the former Guantanamo inmates.
According to him, although it was evident in the agreement that the two detainees were going to stay in Ghana for long, the government at the time held its ground that the two detainees were only in Ghana temporarily.
“The two-year period was only an initial period, but they [Gitmo 2] were to be integrated into the Ghanaian society in the long term with certain rights and benefits.
“And when you look at the agreement, Ghana had no benefit whatsoever under the agreement…I thought it very ridiculous.That day I formed the impression that until we build institutions in this country, we are at the mercy of whoever is the President,” he said.
Send GITMO 2 back to the US
Mahmoud Omar Bin Atef is a Yemeni citizen born in Saudi Arabia in 1979 and was handed over to the US following his capture by Northern Alliance Forces in Afghanistan in 2001, according to US military records.
US official documents also say Khalid al-Dhuby was born in Saudi Arabia in 1981 and travelled to Afghanistan to fight. He was assessed as a probable member of al-Qaeda.
However, when the raging debate about the appropriateness of the decision to accept the two started in 2016, government communicators had argued that they had been screened and declared non-hostile.
But security and international relations expert, Vladimir Antwi-Danso, thinks that is not true.
“If they have been screened…and they are nice people, nice people can be integrated into any nice society…into an American society.
“But American Senators and Congressmen kept warning Obama never even to make the mistake of coming to try them on the mainland. And yet we said we wanted them. If they have been screened and they pose no threat, let them go back home. The people were picked from Afghanistan and Yemen. What were they doing there?…They were picked from the thick of war,” he said on PM Express.
He adds: “Let’s just say they are innocent. America has very good friends, better than Ghana. Saudi Arabia is there, and they are Arabs. Jordan, Israel, why are they not good for Israel but are good for Ghana?”
Watch more from Thursday’s discussion in the video below.