The Member of Parliament for New Juabeng North, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, believes former President Jerry John Rawlings’ admission that he accepted $2 million from former Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha, after nearly 18 years of denial, should warrant forgiveness from Ghanaians.
“He has confessed it and I think we should be magnanimous enough to say let bygones be bygones, but I think from him, we should learn lessons that the President should desist from taking gifts from persons or money and everything like that,” he stated on Eyewitness News.
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman also welcomed former president Rawlings’ confession as a vindication of his efforts in 1998, where he led calls for a probe against the President.
“…If he has confirmed that he did receive $2 million dollars from president Abacha, then we are vindicated,” the MP stated.
Mr. Rawlings while speaking to the Guardian Newspaper in Nigeria, admitted receiving the money from the President of Nigeria in 1998, but said it was $2 million and not $5 million as alleged.
The Minority in Parliament then criticized the acceptance of the money, and called for a Parliamentary probe.
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman, who was then the Minority Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, was at the forefront of the calls for a parliamentary probe.
He recalled that, “When I moved the motion in parliament, amidst all odds, I was convinced that indeed something like this had happened so I am happy about it.”
In 1998 when the matter of the alleged bribe money from Nigeria broke, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), founded by Jerry Rawlings, put up a strong defence for him when the matter was brought to the floor of Parliament for investigations to be conducted by the then Speaker of Parliament, D. F. Annan.
But the Minority-led the campaign was shot down because the Speaker had ruled at the time that the Minority did not bring enough evidence to support their call for investigations.
No need for any inquiry
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman also stated that, there was no need for any inquiry into former President Rawlings now that he has admitted to accepting the money.
“Regardless of the perception, I don’t think there is need for them to file another inquiry… for now, even if we put up a motion and ask for it, it will be defeated as we see now. It will be an exercise in futility so let’s allow it to stay the way it is. He should go and sin no more.”
Reinforcing Mr. Owusu-Agyeman’s view that any attempt to prosecute former President Rawlings would be futile, broadcaster, Paul Adom-Otchere, who covered Parliamentary proceedings during the said period, indicated that the constitution protects him from prosecution.
Referencing article 57(6) from the constitution on Eyewitness News, Mr. Adom-Otchere noted that, “civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person within three years. Within three years after perceiving to be president in respect to anything done or omitted by him in his personal capacity before or during his term of office.”
“The constitution in a nutshell says that you can institute criminal proceedings when a person becomes president within three years of his ceasing to become President,” he explained.