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CHRAJ Shames NPP & CPP Youth In Ford Car Gift Probe 

Ernesto Yeboah

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has stated that the President, John Dramani Mahama, only breached the gift policy, when he accepted a gift of a Ford Expedition vehicle from a Burkinabe contractor, as Vice President in 2012, however, the car gift, could not be described as a bribe.

The Commission, said it did not find President Mahama guilty of bribery and conflict of interest, shaming the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Minority in Parliament, whose members early this month, filed a process in Parliament to impeach the President over the car gift saga, but were thrown out by the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adzaho.

CHRAJ’s 78-page elaborate report, follows a petition by the youth wing of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), which demanded a probe into the conduct of the President, for accepting the gift worth US$100,000, from the contractor, who was subsequently awarded some government contracts.

But CHRAJ after its investigations, said the gift in question formed part of gifts prohibited under the Gift Policy under the Code of Conduct, and that although the evidence shows that President Mahama, subsequently surrendered the gift to the State, the action nonetheless contravened the gift policy.

“Whilst the Respondent contravened the Gift Policy by accepting the Ford vehicle, his actions after the gift was made clearly cured any conflict of interest that could have been occasioned. In the circumstances, the Commission is satisfied that the Respondent’s conduct did not violate Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.”

The Commission, said although the President violated the policy, the action did not amount to accepting a bribe, because upon evidence, the President, submitted the Ford Expedition gift to the state.

CHRAJ, also established that the President was not culpable of conflict of interest, bribery or fraud in relation to the manner in which the vehicle was given to him.

“At the end of the preliminary investigation the Commission has come to the conclusion, based on the extensive evidence assembled, that the allegations that the Respondent has contravened Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution by putting himself in situations of conflict of interest has not been substantiated. Consequently, the Commission holds that full or further investigations into the allegations are not warranted. The
allegations therefore, are hereby dismissed.”

The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, early this month, cleverly swerved a mischievous attempt by the NPP to tagged President Mahama with corruption, have him probed and removed from office, on the basis of the discredited Ford gift story.

After dismissing a motion filed by the NPP Minority led by Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, calling for investigations into the car gift, Mr. Doe Adjaho, directed the NPP members in the House, to try their luck by pursuing the case at CHRAJ.

The Speaker, who is a lawyer by profession, argued that various legal and constitutional provisions, indicate that the body mandated to deal with such issues is CHRAJ.

He also listed a number of such cases against public officials, which he said were investigated by CHRAJ, hence Parliament, has no business in looking into President Mahama’s Ford saga.

The car in question, has been added to the presidential fleet in Flagstaff House. It has not been registered in the private name of President Mahama or any of his relatives.

Since its arrival in 2012, the car, has been used for official duties only, similar to a Mercedes-Benz saloon car ex-President John Kufuor, received from the late Libyan leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi.

The Speaker, had charged that “Ordinarily, having regard to standing order 79(4), I would have returned the motion to the member in whose name it stands as being inadmissible.

But the motion was tied contemporaneously to the request for the recall of the house understanding order 38(1) ,which derives from article 123 of the constitution and therefore leaves me with no discretion in recalling the house. Standing order 79(4) also provides as follows: Every notice shall be submitted to Mr. Speaker who shall direct that it be printed in its original terms or with such amendments as he shall direct or that it be
returned to the member submitting it as being inadmissible.”

“I am therefore unable to admit this motion. I hereby direct the clerk to return the motion to the member in whose name it stands in line with standing order 79 (4).”

According to Doe Adjaho, upon receiving the motion “I sought to satisfy myself to find out whether this matter is under investigation before the Commission on Human Rights and Administration Justice.”

“In view of the fact that information in the public domain suggests that some petitions relating to the subject matter of the motion have been submitted to the CHRAJ, accordingly, on the same day of 19th August, directed the office of the clerk to conduct a search in that regard. The search
by the office of the clerk confirmed that the matter is before them.”

He further argued that, CHRAJ was the right body to investigate the matter.

“It is my view therefore that, it is the CHRAJ that is the institution vested with the exclusive constitutional authority to deal with all relevant matters relating to breach of code of conduct of public officers including this matter on the receipt of the Ford expedition vehicle. As the Speaker of this House I am of a firm conviction that constitutional bodies must respect each other in the performance of their duties in order to avoid role
conflicts,” Mr. Adjaho added.

Doe Adjaho, also adjourned sitting sine die saying “Since this is the matter that has brought us here, I adjourn the House sine die.”
President Mahama, had admitted receiving the Ford vehicle gift which the Joy FM journalist, Manesseh Azure Awuni, had priced at US$100,000 in 2012 from a Burkinabe contractor, Djibril Kanazoe.

The reporter, had considered the gift an inducement as Kanazoe, subsequently won European Union (EU) contract to construct the Dodo Pepeso-Nkwanta road construction project.

He had earlier won a contract to construct a fence wall around a land belonging to Ghana’s Embassy in Burkina Faso for nearly half a million dollars.

President Mahama, was harshly criticized for accepting the vehicle he claims to have put in the state’s pool of vehicles. Critics alleged that the
revelation indicates a case of conflict of interest and called for his impeachment of the president.

The NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, had described the president’s acceptance of the gift as another blot on his administration.

The CPP youth wing, petitioned CHRAJ to investigate the possible conflict of interest, and the President, responded to a CHRAJ letter requesting information on the incident.

A cousin of Nana Akufo-Addo, who is also the NPP MP for Abuakwa-South, Samuel Atta Akyea, argued that the Speaker of Parliament, embarrassed the House with his dismissal of a motion, which sought to have President Mahama investigated over the Ford gift saga.

“What is it that will prevent anybody from blocking this issue? What is it to hide? What is the fear? This phobia is giving vent to some speculations that maybe there are skeletons in the cupboard. In fact, it’s constitutional confusion to subordinate Parliament to CHRAJ, it’s an embarrassment to this House,” he insisted.

Speaking to Citi News, Atta Kyea, insisted that the Speaker’s ruling makes mockery of Parliament, and explained that the rationale for filing the motion was not to get the president impeached but to unravel the truth in the case.

“We are not going to flog a dead horse. We thought that nobody should embarrass the president by going the way of impeachment; what for? It is not our joy to embarrass the president, if we want to get him out, we will get him out electorally, not through impeachment, given the abysmal record of
the NDC.”

The Abuakwa South legislator also stated that, the speaker breached natural justice by not allowing the minority to defend their motion.

“Arbitrariness is indicating to us that we won’t go anywhere with it, we don’t want to waste precious time over this. The mind is set, he came in with a prepared decision, he didn’t even give us the opportunity to articulate the position. There was a breach of natural justice right there,” he added.

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