Did Nana Addo-Dankwah Akufo-Addo – as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice during the Kufuor administration – prosecute Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings for fraud and corruption in 2007 because he honestly believed the former First Lady was corrupt?
Or did he just go through the motions, using Konadu as a pawn in the grand scheme of witch-hunting and persecuting political opponents like Kwame Peprah, former Finance Minister and Chairman of Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) and Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC).
Can Akufo-Addo, contesting for the third time to be president of Ghana, boldly use the prosecution of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings between 2007 and 2008 as his claim to fame in anti-corruption fight?
These are some of the hydra-headed questions agitating the minds of political watchers since the unlikely “political love birds” went public with their agenda to team up to unseat incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.
The then Attorney General, Akufo Addo, who was bent on destroying Rawlings after the NPP assumed power in 2007, dragged Nana Konadu – together with four others – to court on charges of alleged fraudulent divestiture of the GIHOC Nsawam Cannery.
The accused persons were initially slapped with 30 charges (later substituted with 15 charges), including stealing and obtaining public property by false statement to the tune of ¢9.2 billion.
Nana Konadu, Hanny Sherry Ayittey (then Director of Caridem and now Minister for Fisheries), Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the DIC, and Kwame Peprah pleaded not guilty to four counts of causing loss to public property to the tune of over ¢9.2 billion and using false statements to obtain public property and conspiracy to alter documents and altering false documents.
The trial itself became a political grandstand for the NPP government under the Kufuor administration, with Akufo-Addo as the arrowhead.
The NDC showed faith with Konadu as hundreds of its supporters thronged the Fast Track High Court trying the case to show solidarity with the former First Lady amidst drumming and dancing throughout the protracted trial.
The defence team, led by Mr. Tony Lithur, together with his colleague Nana Ato Dadzie, persistently had to apologize to the trial judge, Justice K.A. Acquaye, for the unflinching and open support by the NDC loyalists at the court.
It took the Mills administration to file a nolle prosequi (an entry in the court record to the effect that the prosecutor will not proceed with the case) to free Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings in January 2009.
In a statement issued on January 15, 2009, after her acquittal and discharge from the prosecution, Konadu wrote, inter alia, “…At some point during the process we were resigned to our fate knowing that the powers that be had no plans of capitulating. Having excelled in ensuring that all cases against members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led to imprisonment we were like lambs being led to the slaughter. We definitely were not expecting a fair judgement at the end of the day…”
The former First Lady stated that her image as well as her co-accused in the case against them were “battered beyond recognition” during the trial.
With this political history between the two, the questions that keep popping up are: would a ‘President’ Akufo-Addo had continued to prosecute and – possibly – jailed Konadu Agyemang Rawlings if he had won the 2008 election to prove his anti-corruption credentials; or was it just a smokescreen to hide his pretentions?
Those who subscribe to the first proposition cite the constant harassment of the Rawlingses, culminating in the withdrawal of ex-President Rawlings’ privileges and courtesy as an ex-President of the Republic of Ghana when Nana Addo became a Minister for Foreign Affairs under the same Kufuor administration.
But others hold the view that the purported trial was a hoax, underlying Akufo-Addo’s questionable anti-corruption stance.
Those with this school of thought argue that the so-called political alliance between Akufo-Addo and Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings is like dining with the devil to spite a common political foe.
The former First Lady who broke off from the NDC and founded her own party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), after losing to late President Mills at the 2007 NDC Presidential primaries, has consistently said the NDC deviated from the ideals on which the party was founded which is probity, accountability, and social justice, hence her quitting the party.
Nana Konadu’s mantra – since she joined forces with Nana Addo – has been that some persons have hijacked the NDC and started running the party with different principles.
Those who argue that the purported trial of the former First Lady was a hoax – which underlies Nana Addo’s questionable anti-corruption stance – stress that their view is anchored on the reference to the fact that Nana Konadu Agyeman–Rawlings, never known for running any business throughout her life, used Caridem Corporation to acquire several public enterprises, including the GIHOC Cannery, GNTC Bakeries, GIHOC Brick and Tile, GNTC Supermarket, Nsawam Cannery and the former State Transport Corporation which she run down very badly.
Mrs. Rawlings also began running a number of gas stations and supermarkets in Accra and other cities, according to the claims.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that she also allegedly bought shares in several chains of hotels, including Accra’s La Palm Pleasure Beach Hotel and other hotels in other cities in Africa.
Some reports also alleged that many of these state-owned enterprises acquired by Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings were never paid for, and in some instances, very little were realized by the state from the sale.
The former First Lady is currently campaigning on a platform of accusing the Mahama-led administration of failing to effectively fight corruption.
Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings recently weighed into the Ford Expedition gift saga, chastising President John Mahama for accepting the gift.
“If it is a gift that he is sitting in his Bole somewhere and someone says ‘oh I am giving you a car,” then, according to the former First Lady, allegations of conflict of interest would not have cropped up.
Nana Konadu said although she is not certain if the Burkinabe contractor presented the gift in 2012 as a token for the two contracts he was awarded, the vehicle presents legitimate suspicion.
“It is wrong. Anything in exchange for something is wrong. I think he [President Mahama] should have been the first person to say ‘hey you were looking for a contract, go through my [aides] don’t bring anything to me,’” she said.
She said like her father did, all statesmen and people in the position of power must ensure that they conduct themselves to remove suspicions of bribery and conflict of interest.
After almost 18 years of vehement denial, Nana Konadu’s husband, ex-President Jerry John Rawlings has finally admitted to collecting a US$2 million gift from former Nigerian President Sani Abacha through an aide to the former army general called Gworzo.
Some commentators insist that former President Rawlings actually received a $5 million gift from Sani Abacha and not $2million as the former Ghanaian president would have the world believe.
The Rawlings gift scandal with General Sani Abacha resurfaced in a recent interview with Nigeria’s Guardian Newspaper. And this is raising questions about the credibility of Nana Konadu and her newly-found political ally, NPP presidential candidate Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo and their anti-corruption campaign ahead of the November 2016 polls.