The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has insisted that the Ford Expedition gift to President John Dramani Mahama by the Burkinabe contractor, Mr Jibrille Kanazoe, was a bribe.
The position of the NPP was contained in a statement signed and issued by the Director of Communications, Nana Akomea, in Accra yesterday.
Serious breach of Constitution
“President Mahama’s acceptance of 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 and CHRAJ’s own guidelines on gift-taking and conflict of interest and clearly amounts to a bribe,” the party said.
The facts of the matter, the party said, had one summary and that was the fact that President Mahama, the topmost public servant in Ghana, received an expensive present from a contractor who was in a contractual engagement with the President’s government.
That summary, the NPP posited, was supported by the facts that after unsuccessful efforts to secure a contract from the Government of Ghana, the contractor met and sought assistance from then Vice-President Mahama.
“After this meeting and striking up of friendship, the contractor secures three contracts from the Government of Ghana in the two-year period after meeting then Vice-President Mahama,” it maintained.
The NPP contended that the cost and priority appropriateness of the first contract, which was the construction of a wall at the Ghana High Commission in Burkina Faso, raised adverse concern at the office of the Auditor-General of Ghana and in the Parliament of Ghana.
Violation of the President’s own code of ethics
By receiving the expensive gift, the NPP said President Mahama violated the Constitution of Ghana and every other provision, code and regulation guiding the conduct of public officials so they avoid real or the perception of kickbacks, bribery and 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 accepting gifts of more than $50, from accepting gifts from a commercial enterprise or any other organisation and putting themselves in a conflict of interest situation where their personal friends derive some financial benefit from a decision by the government,” the party insisted.
According to the NPP, an objective review of President Mahama’s conduct in the light of those provisions showed clear wrongdoing and that the President took a high value 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 wrongdoing, bribery and corruption,” it added.
CHRAJ admits but…
The CHRAJ report, the NPP said, concluded that President Mahama was in no conflict of interest situation as there was no evidence that he took part in decisions to award contracts to his contractor friend and that when it came to his attention, he handed over the vehicle gift to the state of Ghana.
“Both these two basis of the CHRAJ are clearly flawed. How do we decide that the President was not complicit in the decision 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 then 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 party said.
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 the case.
The NPP also argued that it was trite knowledge that customs duties were not paid on state vehicles and that the President of Ghana also did not pay taxes and, therefore, questioned on whose behalf and for what purpose the duty was paid.