General News of Monday, 21 November 2016
Disqualified presidential candidate of the Great Consolidated Popularly Party (GCPP), Dr. Henry Lartey has challenged two of Ghana’s foremost journalists, Haruna Atta, Kweku Baako Jnr and presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, to break their silence on the confessions of former President Jerry John Rawlings that he took $ 2 million from late Nigerian leader, Saani Abacha.
The leader of the GCPP who has since petitioned the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the former leader, wonders why the three individuals have remained silent on the matter.
Dr. Henry Lartey says the presidential candidate of the NPP who in 1998 was the lawyer for the two journalists who were jailed over the issue need to take a bite of the issue which led to their imprisonment.
The former president in an interview with a Nigerian-based newspaper, the Guardian, rejected claims that he received $5 million from former Nigerian President Saani Abacha.
Mr. Rawlings admitted receiving the money from then President of Nigeria but said it was $2 million and not $5 million as alleged.
Mr. Rawlings’ Ministers at the time, as well as Majority MPs, shot down an attempt by Minority NPP MPs at the time to push for an investigation into the illegal payments, and a subsequent impeachment of Mr. Rawlings.
The NDC in 1998 after the news broke, put up a strong defence for him [Rawlings] when the matter was brought to the floor of Parliament for investigations to be conducted into the matter by the then Speaker of Parliament, D.F Annan.
The two journalists, Haruna Atta and Kweku Baako Jnr who were editors- "The Weekend Statesman" and "The Guide"- respectively, were jailed for a month over publications on the Abacha cash.
The two were also denied bail after their counsel, Nana Addo, had appealed to the Supreme Court against their conviction.
On 23 July 1998, the Court of Appeal found Atta and Baako Jnr. guilty of contempt of court. The two were each sentenced to one month's imprisonment.
Lawyers for the journalists immediately filed a notice of appeal together with a stay of execution of the court's order pending the hearing of the application.
Following these experiences by the two senior journalists and their lawyer, Dr. Henry Lartey says, it will be unfortunate for them to continue to remain quiet and not comment on the matter.
He said their continuous silence is a slap in the faces of those who defended and stood behind them during their difficult days.
He also picked on the presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo, and has challenged him to speak on the matter if indeed he abhors corruption.
In a barrage of questions, Dr. Henry Lartey asked, "Was Alhaji Haruna Atta and Kweku Baako Jnr sentenced to jail for the alleged US$5 million that Gen. Saani Abacha sent to former President Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings?
For the purposes of wiping out corruption can we have comments from Nana Akuffo Addo?"