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General News of Saturday, 21 April 2018

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Ex-Ministers to face court over double salary – Martin Amidu hints

The prosecution of former ministers in the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration and Members of Parliament (MPs) who have been caught in an alleged double-salary scandal is imminent.

It follows what looks like the special prosecutor’s endorsement of the move by the police to prosecute the former appointees, who served under then President John Mahama – majority of who are MPs in the current parliament.

Clearest Indication

Martin A.B.K. Amidu, the special prosecutor, told Citi FM last Thursday that his former colleagues had fallen foul of the law and should not go unpunished.

“Indeed, that (double salary), is an offence of abuse of office for private gain,” he said without mincing words, before revealing that he also received double payments when he served as minister during the NDC regime but returned the excess money to the government.

Specific Charge

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has said officially that the alleged double salaries saga “is contrary to Section 124 (1) of the Criminal and other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) as amended in 2012 (Act 849). Section 124 relates to the offence of stealing.”

Some of the MPs’ allegedly involved have been interrogated by the CID and granted police enquiry bail, but it is unclear if the special prosecutor’s office will be handling the case, should the Attorney General’s Department decide to arraign them for court.

Patriotic Duty

“Money was ever paid into my account. When my bank notified me I told them to return it because that is not what me and the Attorney General agreed, I could have kept it. This is what they should have done.

“You don’t keep the money for six months, one year, two years or three years, you’ve left office, one-and-a-half years, you’ve not made any efforts to return it. Then when the CID begins seeing it now, you are rationalizing it and yet when the ordinary man takes plantain one bunch, he goes to jail for 15 years. So what is the political elite telling us?”

Mr Martin Amidu, former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, did not agree with those who are insisting that the double payment to government appointees, who were MPs is an old age problem in the country.

He asserted, “If it’s been happening since 1992 and no one has seen it, now it has been seen; those responsible should bear the consequence.”

Conscience To Prosecute

Mr Amidu said as special prosecutor, he will not have the conscience to prosecute ordinary Ghanaians if the double salary matter is not dealt with appropriately.

“Why should a special prosecutor be prosecuting ordinary Ghanaians and your honourables will be involved in these things then they will be talking to the president to wash it up? Then I have no need sitting here. I won’t even have the conscience to continue,” Amidu, known as citizen vigilante for his anti-corruption stance, fired.

He queried, “Will I have the conscience to prosecute any other body for corruption if the CID finds something prosecutable and are not allowed to prosecute because Members of Parliament are involved? That is not fair.”

Element of Bias

Mr Amidu’s assertions appeared to have incensed Dr Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, former Deputy Attorney General under President Mahama and MP for Bolgatanga East, who accused him (Amidu) of exhibiting bias towards the NDC.

Dr. Ayine, who has filed a suit at the Supreme Court to stop Mr Amidu from becoming the special prosecutor using the age argument, said on Citi FM that the former Attorney General is still hounding the NDC members.

“He has never investigated the Mahama administration yet he keeps piling one allegation upon the other, that there was massive corruption in the Mahama administration,” Ayine fumed.

He insisted that Mr Amidu is not exhibiting neutrality, given the position he now occupies, saying, “I think it’s unfortunate for a man who is supposed to be impartial and neutral in investigating crimes.

“I am very disappointed that he will still be making those types of statements at this stage of his career as a prosecutor.”

Clandestine Move

Even though some elements in the opposition NDC have been going about claiming that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is witch-hunting them politically, their minority leader in parliament is on record to have met President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to seek a way out of the embarrassing episode.

Majority leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, threw the bombshell last Tuesday when he said his minority counterpart, Haruna Iddrisu, tried to persuade President Akufo-Addo to intervene in the double salary case against appointees of the erstwhile NDC government, claiming that it would damage the reputation of parliament if it went on.

Haruna Iddrisu later admitted meeting the president but refused to disclose what transpired at the meeting.

Cynical Reaction

Even with the minority leader’s admission, some NDC elements, including Victor Kodjoga Adawudu, a private legal practitioner, who is representing some of the affected MPs in the case, created the impression that the majority leader had been untruthful to the media about Iddrisu’s meeting with the president.

The double salary scandal appears to have rattled the opposition NDC which MPs – some past and present – have been visiting the police to assist in investigations over their respective involvements in the scandal.

Last Wednesday, Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, former Minister of Transport and MP for Ketu South; Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, former minister of state at the presidency and MP for Wa Central and Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, former Central Regional Minister and former MP for Mfantseman West, were interrogated by the police over the scandal.

Self Enquiry Bail

Before then, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, MP for Ellembelle and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum and Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, MP for Kpone Katamanso who was the former Greater Accra Regional Minister, were also interrogated by the police and granted self enquiry bail.

Also, a certain Bashir Fuseini Alhassan – who is believed to be ABA Fuseini, NDC MP for Sagnerigu and former Deputy Minister for the Northern Region – was also there at the weekend and was made to write a statement before being admitted to bail.

On Tuesday, three former appointees under President Mahama, including minister of state in-charge of Social and Allied Institutions, Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah, NDC MP for Ada East; second deputy minority chief whip, Eric Opoku, former MP for Asunafo South and Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister and Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central and former Minister of Roads and Highways, were also grilled.

They were all reportedly cautioned with a charge of stealing and are to reappear before the CID in May.

They appeared individually with their lawyers at the CID headquarters in Accra and after writing their statements, they were said to have been subjected to questioning before they were granted police enquiry bail.