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General News of Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

CHRAJ begins perusal of petitions against Mahama’s Ford gift

The Commission on Human Rights and Administration Justice (CHRAJ) has begun preliminary assessing petitions alleging a conflict of interest against President John Mahama for accepting a vehicle from a contractor.

The assessment of the two petitions will pave the way for full investigations into accusations the President breached laws governing public office holders in accepting the Ford Expedition gift from a Burkinabe Contractor.

CHRAJ will also investigate accusations that the timing of the gift to the President constituted bribery.

Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, says after the preliminary assessment of the claims and evidence presented in the petitions, the Commission will write formally to President Mahama for an official response.

“The law will apply. In this case, the Constitution clearly determine the procedure we should adopt. If you look Article 287 of the Constitution, it indicates that when allegations under Chapter 24, that is the Code of Conduct under the Constitution such are allegations are made to the Commissioner, or in the case of the Commissioner, the Chief Justice.

“We will, first of all, make sure that the person concerned, in this case, the President, indicates in writing whether he admits to the contravention or the non-compliance of the [Constitutional] provisions in question,” said Mr Whittal to Evans Mensah on Top Story on Joy FM, Tuesday.

There has been public uproar following a Joy News exposé that revealed that the President received a Ford Exhibition vehicle from Burkinabe contractor, Djibril Kanazoe, as a gift.

Mr Kanazoe says the President placed a personal call to him to thank him for the gift.

Djibril Kanazoe has won two major contracts from Ghana in the past and was in line for a third one until he voluntarily pulled out of the third one after the revelations.

Legal experts, opposition political parties, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and many other groups have said the receipt of the gift constitutes bribery and violates conflict of interest rules for public office holders.

The youth wing of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and a private citizen have so far petitioned CHRAJ for investigations into the matter and to establish that the President violated constitutional provisions.

The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has also made public its intention to petition the Commission.

CHRAJ’s confirmation that the acceptance of the gift constitutes a conflict of interest could pave a way for impeachment proceedings in Parliament – a situation some legal experts say is far-fetched because of the existing system in Parliament.

The Majority in Parliament come from the President’s party, while the Minority is made up of opposition Members of Parliament (MPs). Some have doubted that any MP from the Majority side will vote against the President on any matter, hence even if all the MPs vote, the vote is likely to favour the ruling Party.

However, the CHRAJ deputy commissioner says his outfit will do its part in objectively determining the petitions presented so far.

"Certainly we are looking for the truth and we need to let the people of Ghana know the truth," he said to stress CHRAJ's determination to adopt every possible means to investigate the matter.

"I will like to assure Ghanaians that the Commission will live up to its Constitutional responsibility in ensuring that thorough investigation is done and we will not sacrifice the thoroughness of the investigation on the altar of the issues that may bother on elections," Mr Whittal said.

CPP Youth Organiser, Ernesto Yeboah, said on Top Story, he is encouraged and inspired by CHRAJ's passion to pursue the matter.

He urged the Commission exercise its mandate boldly and fearlessly.