An Accra-based legal practitioner had chided Accra Mayor Alfred Vanderpuije for ordering the public arrest of junior staff member Christian Ababio for allegedly allowing a private developer to build without the necessary permit.
The assembly has come under severe criticism for failing to enforce building standards after the collapse of an Achimota Melcom building that allegedly had serious structural defects. The incident killed fourteen people and injured several others.
Ababio was alleged to have been bribed by a private developer who was putting up an eight-storey building without permit.
According to the AMA Boss, the building had been constructed up to the sixth floor though the developer lacked AMA permission to erect the structure.
He said investigations into the matter had revealed that Ababio, whose job it was to ensure that a permit had been issued before construction began, had instead acted as an agent of the developer and had helped him to skirt the legally mandated procedure.
In the middle of a press conference announcing the establishment of the Melcom Disaster Fund to assist victims of the collapse, Vanderpuije called out Ababio, who was present at the conference, and directed the police to arrest him on the spot.
Speaking to Joy News, criminal lawyer Augustine Obour questioned the justification behind the building inspector’s arrest.
He said the burden now lies on the mayor to prove the gentleman’s guilt: “Whatever the offence maybe, the burden is on the AMA to prove his guilt.”
According to the lawyer, key facts that must be established include “Who gave him money? How was the money given to him? What was the purpose of giving the money to him? These things must be established by the AMA or the AMA Boss.”
He went on to explain, “that is why here in this part of our world, we effect the arrest of people, we have plenty dockets we can’t prosecute because the facts there are suspicion, mere speculation, so the police will arrest and build a docket although they cannot prosecute.”