Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, September 30, 2016
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has established that President John Dramani Mahama breached the gift policy of the state when he accepted a Ford Expedition vehicle gift from a Burkinabe contractor.
The CHRAJ, in its 78-page report released late Wednesday said, “The Commission is satisfied that the gift in question forms part of gifts prohibited under the Gift Policy under the Code of Conduct. Although the evidence shows that the Respondent subsequently surrendered the gift to the State, the action nonetheless contravened the gift policy.”
When Mr Mahama was the vice president during the tenure of former President John Evans Atta Mills, he took delivery of a brand new 2010 Ford Expedition in 2010 from Djibril Kanazoe, whose company had since been awarded juicy government contracts, including the construction of the controversial $650,000 Ghana Embassy fence wall in Burkina Faso - apart from other multi-million dollar contracts, since his encounter with President Mahama.
The Burkinabe contractor sent the gift, believed to be worth $100,000, to his friend, Mr. Mahama, through the Ghana Embassy in Ouagadougou and the transaction had been concealed for about four years until its lid was blown by journalist Manasseh Awuni Azure of Joy FM.
Three petitions had been filed separately by the National Youth League of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), a private citizen, Nana Adofo Ofori, as well as Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom’s Progressive People’s Party (PPP), all citing President Mahama as having received bribe and indulging in conflict of interest.
Issues Set Out
According to CHRAJ, it set out 13 issues for investigation into the matter before concluding that the president did not put himself in any conflict of interest situation.
The commission explained in the report that although President Mahama ‘contravened’ the Gift Policy of the state, there was no ‘conflict of interest’ on the part of the president as raised by the petitioners.
“At the end of the preliminary investigation, CHRAJ 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 have not been substantiated. Consequently, the Commission holds that full or further investigations into the allegations are not warranted. The allegations, therefore, are hereby dismissed.”
CHRAJ said there was evidence that when the president took delivery of the said vehicle, he handed it over to the state and the vehicle was included in the presidential pool on November 2, 2012 and therefore the action cured any charge of conflict of interest against him (president).
“Having reviewed the evidence on the actions and conduct of the Respondent after the gift was made, the Commission is satisfied that his actions and conduct sufficiently dealt with any conflict of interest that could have been occasioned. In the circumstances, the Commission finds that the Respondent did not put himself in a conflict of interest situation or contravene the conflict of interest rules under Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution.
The document, signed by Acting CHRAJ Commissioner Richard Quayson, indicated that “the Commission accordingly finds that the circumstances under which the gift was delivered to the Respondent, and conduct of the Respondent after the gift was made sufficiently rebuts the presumption of acceptance of a bribe by a public officer,” CHRAJ posited, adding, “In the circumstances, the Commission is satisfied that the Respondent’s conduct did not violate Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.”
Interestingly, CHRAJ held that the gift in question formed part of gifts prohibited by the Gift Policy under the Code of Conduct and added that although the evidence showed that President Mahama subsequently surrendered the gift to the State, the action nonetheless contravened the gift policy.
“The Commission is satisfied with the actions of the Respondent after the gift was made, and accordingly finds that his conduct was not consistent with that of a person who had been corrupted by a gift or improperly influenced by same.
“On the basis of the available evidence, the Commission finds clearly stated on the face of the Customs Temporary Vehicle Importation permission duly stamped and signed by Customs officials, the name of Ouedraogo Cheick Mohammed as the owner/driver and therefore finds the allegation of the perpetration of fraud on Ghanaians on the part of the Respondent totally misconceived and unsupported by the evidence.”
CHRAJ said there was no evidence that the gift to the president influenced the award of contracts to the person who had offered it and added that all the contracts given to Djibril Kanazoe duly passed through procurement processes.
“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 have not been substantiated. Consequently, the Commission holds that full or further investigations into the allegations are not warranted.
The allegations, therefore, are hereby dismissed.”
Reacting to the CHRAJ ruling, Tony Lithur, lawyer for President Mahama, lauded the Commission’s decision.
“I commend CHRAJ for discharging its constitutional mandate with dispatch, and hope that the clarity and completeness of its determination of all the issues will finally lay this matter to rest once and for all,” he said in a statement.