The New Patriotic Party says the report released by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on the Mahama Ford saga was incurably flawed and a failed attempt to cover up for a president caught red handed for receiving a bribe.
The NPP in reacting to the report issued by CHRAJ on the controversial Ford gift said the report did not answer why a vehicle said to have turned over to the state by the president was registered at customs and duty paid on it.
The party in a statement said if the Ford gift was offered from the heart of a genuine giver with no intent to bribe the president, the Burkinabe contractor Djibril Kanazoe would not have been forced to admit with evidence that he gave a gift and he would definitely not have attempted to seize the recorder on which he grudgingly admitted giving the gift.
The following is the full statement issued by the party on the matter;
PRESIDENT MAHAMA'S FORD GIFT IS A BRIBE. NO AMOUNT OF WHITE WASH WILL EXONERATE THE PRESIDENT
The CHRAJ on Thursday 29th September published its report on its investigation and conclusions in the matter of the Ford vehicle gift/bribery saga to President Mahama.
The CHRAJ concluded that
1) It was inappropriate for President Mahama to receive the Ford vehicle as a gift
2) However the President was not guilty of having put himself in the position of receiving a bribe or put himself in a conflict of interest/abuse of office/corruption situation.
The Npp like many Ghanaians has received this CHRAJ report on President Mahama’s Ford gift saga with great disbelief and shock.
The NPP is in no doubt that by accepting the Ford vehicle from a government contractor, who got these contracts only after his meeting with the President, President Mahama had received a bribe/ kickback by every description and that the Chraj report is one desperate and blatant attempt at a white wash which will go down as a most shoddy job by a constitutional body in the fourth republic of Ghana.
The facts of this matter have one summary : President Mahama, the topmost public servant in Ghana, received an expensive present from a contractor who was in a contractual engagement with the government of President Mahama.
This summary is supported by the plain facts of the matter: After unsuccessful efforts to secure a contract from the Government of Ghana, the contractor met and sought assistance from Vice President Mahama. After this meeting and striking of friendship, the contractor secures three contracts from the Government of Ghana in the two year period after meeting then Vice President Mahama.
The appropriateness as to priority and cost of the first contract (a fence wall) raised adverse concern at the office of the Auditor General of Ghana and in the Parliament of Ghana.
By receiving this expensive gift, President Mahama violated the Constitution of Ghana and every other provision/code/regulation guiding the conduct of public officials so they avoid real or the perception of kickbacks /bribery / abuse of office.
Perhaps the most instructive of these violated codes is that of president mahama himself : President Mahama's Code Of Ethics issued to his ministers and appointees forbids them from
1) accepting gifts of more than $50
2) From accepting gifts from a commercial enterprise or any other organisation
3) putting themselves in a conflict of interest situation where their personal friends derive some financial benefit from a decision by the government .
Similar prohibitions are provided in the
1992 constitution of Ghana (article 284);
the CHRAJ's own Guidelines on Conflict Of Interest and the Conduct Of Public Officers Bill.
An objective review of President Mahama's conduct in the light of these provisions show clear wrongdoing. The President took a high value present/gift from a contractor who met him to solicit for government contracts and was subsequently awarded contracts. This is an open and shut case of wrong doing, bribery and corruption.
But the Chraj, even though admits to all this, concludes the President was in no conflict of interest situation as
1) there is no evidence that President mahama took part in decisions to award contracts to his contractor friend
2) President Mahama, when it came to his attention handed over the vehicle gift to the state of Ghana.
Both these two basis of the Chraj are clearly flawed.
An immediate question that needs enquiry is that if there was no unwholesome intent behind his gift, why did the Burkinabe contractor seek to deny the gift until confronted with evidence, and why did he seize the reporter's equipment and sought to destroy the recordings?
A second question is how the CHRAJ decide the President was not complicit in the decisions by his appointees to award contracts to his friend?
The guidelines mentioned above say it is sufficient to show that gifts were taken from a contractor (who after meeting Vice President Mahama,) got substantial contracts from the Government.
The gifts, per these circumstances and the guidelines, qualify as a bribe or a kickback.
The second basis for Chraj's conclusion, that when it came to the President's attention, he immediately turned the gift to the state, is also contestable, just by looking at the simple facts of this case.
The president was supposed to have turned the vehicle to the state on November 2nd 2012.
But records presented to CHRAJ show the vehicle was declared at Tema port and Customs Duty paid on February 13 2013, three clear months after.
So how come an armoured state vehicle, turned over to the state on November 2nd, was taken out more than three months later, to the Tema port, declared before Customs, and import duties paid amounting to ghc 23, 646 ?
It is trite knowledge that customs duties are not paid on State vehicles. The President Of Ghana also does not pay taxes.
So on whose behalf was the duty paid?
What was the purpose of paying the duty?
These issues were not addressed by CHRAJ. But it is the very issue that throws overboard the CHRAJ'S conclusion that the president turned over the vehicle to the state on 2nd November 2012.
CHRAJ's conclusion is rendered untenable. It renders their report as an attempt to white wash the president and hoodwink Ghanaians.
President Mahama’s behaviour in accepting an expensive vehicle from a government contractor who had met him to solicit for government contracts and subsequently obtained government contracts, breaches the national constitution (article 284), breaches CHRAJ's own Guidelines on that article (on gift taking, conflict of interest etc) and clearly amounts to a bribe.
Director of Communications