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Opinions of Thursday, 22 March 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Akufo-Addo cannot takeover Mahama and his alleged offshore properties!

I became numb momentarily upon reading the excerpts of Ex-President Mahama’s speech during NDC’s recent gathering at a secret location in London where he dared Akufo-Addo to take over his (Mahama’s) alleged offshore properties (See: Take over my ‘hotel’ in Dubai – Mahama dares Akufo-Addo; kasapafmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 21/03/2018).

Former President Mahama is reported to have asserted: “I’ve always told the NDC that we should hold our heads high, let’s not be ashamed of our records like we did nothing. They say there was massive corruption, massive corruption where? They just kept manufacturing it and repeating it all the time. Go ahead and prosecute, we’ve told them. If I have done wrong prosecute me, they talk about hotels in Dubai, seize them, you’re in office. They talk about ships in Tokyo, go and take over them, I mean they talk about all kinds of lies and they kept on repeating them and people thought such things exist.”

Well, the “proof of the pudding is in the eating”, they say. After all, the “actual length of a frog is known after its demise.”

If you may recall, President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks came under the spotlight for numerous bribery and corruption allegations, inter alia, ‘the furtive gift (the Ford Expedition Vehicle) from the Burkinabe Contractor Djabril Kanazoe, the Embraer 190 scandal, Armajaro, SADA, GYEEDA, SUBA Info Solutions amongst others.

Given the circumstances, the sceptics could not have belied the facts for suggesting that if discerning Ghanaians had not intervened by showing the Mahama administration the exit during the 7th December 2016 election, the rampant sleazes and corruption would have wiped out Ghana off the world map entirely.

Apparently, the Mahama’s government’s corruption tag has been reinforced by the Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

It says that the NDC Party lost the election largely due to the rampant sleazes and gargantuan corruption.

“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decliner in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in Africa, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls.

“Despite being a model for stability in the region, Ghana, together with another six African countries, has significantly declined. The rampant corruption in Ghana led citizens to voice their frustrations through the election, resulting in an incumbent president losing for the first time in Ghana’s history (CPI 2016).”

More recently, a competent court of jurisdiction convicted two of the several suspects in the infamous GYEEDA corruption scandal and sentenced them to six and twelve years respectively.

I must however add to the sentiments of concerned Ghanaians that the sins of the two convicts are indeed meagre in comparison with the other scandalous corruption cases which took place in the erstwhile Mahama administration.

We should, however, take solace in the fact that the current Attorney General is seriously working towards bringing the suspects to book. Just last Wednesday 14th March 2018, the State filed a case of causing financial loss against the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD and the CEO of Zeera Group of Companies and Agricult Ghana Limited.

I recall a few months ago, former President Mahama came out and told Ghanaians that he and his wife (Lordina) are not owners of DKM, and that any attempt to investigate them will hit the wall.

Former President Mahama stated: “thankfully, they are now in power and I will want them to prosecute me and the first lady if it is true the DKM company belonged to us” (yen.com.gh).

It would appear that the Mahamas’ are voluntarily putting themselves forward for interrogation by the Special Prosecutor. But I am pretty sure that Mrs Mahama is not immune from possible prosecution, unlike Mr Mahama, who per Ghana’s 1992 Constitution is covered by the irrational indemnity clause.

Well, let former President Mahama be rest assured that his wish will definitely come to pass. Surely, every suspect will have his/her day at the Special Prosecutor’s quarters.

In fact, if not for the insertion of the unconscionable indemnity clause in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, I, for one, would have preferred Ex-President Mahama to face the Special Prosecutor and answer questions about the STX housing deal, Brazilian aircrafts and the Armajaro scandal.

If we take a stroll down memory lane, somewhere in October 2010, the British media brought up sensational reports about how the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama, was lobbied by a British Cabinet Minister to get a reprieve for the ban imposed on Armajaro Holdings, one of the cocoa buying companies who were found guilty for smuggling the commodity out of Ghana.

Armajaro Company was banned together with a few other companies, when the award winning investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas exposed the smuggling of uncountable bags of cocoa into neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.

Shockingly, however, the British media reported that subsequent to the meeting between the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama and the British Cabinet Minister, Armajaro Company was given a needless reprieve and then started its operations.

Besides, I would have demanded answers from Ex-President Mahama’s dreadful handling of the STX Housing deal which was supposed to provide affordable housing to the security agencies.

But in spite of the fact that the deal did not materialise, the then Vice President Mahama, is alleged to have given us a bill in excess of $300 million.

Last but not least, I would have lodged complaint with the Special Prosecutor to look into the Brazilian aircraft deal if not the ridiculous indemnity clause.

It would be recalled that during his State of the Nation Address on 19th February 2009, the late President Mills informed the Parliament that his government was looking into the decision to acquire two executive Presidential jets.

However, the late President Mills was somehow ambivalent over the acquisition of the aircrafts and thus observed: "Ghana simply cannot afford the expenditure at this time and we certainly do not need two Presidential Jets" (thestatesmanonline.com, 16/06/2016).

Astonishingly, however, whilst the late Mills was joyfully delivering his euphonious state of the nation address in the parliament, the Vice President John Mahama, who also happened to be the chairman of the Armed Forces Council, was blissfully entertaining delegations from Brazil and busily negotiating the acquisition of five jets, including the most expensive hangar without the knowledge of the late President Mills.

Unsurprisingly, the late President Mills became suspicious of the whole deal and decided to put a committee together to review the deal, according to Mr Martin Amidu, the former Attorney General under President Mills.

Unfortunately, in the wisdom of the framers of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, the insertion of the controversial indemnity clause was to “let the sleeping dogs lie” and move on with our lives.

To me, Ghana’s constitution has to be reviewed further and the irrational clauses such as the indemnity clause are either amended or expunged accordingly.

How on earth can individuals commit unpardonable crimes (gargantuan corruptions) against the state and get away with their misdeeds?

And more so the traditional exemption of heads of state from prosecution despite the evidence of a case to answer is wrong.

How serious are we as a nation when we can only descend heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves and let go hard criminals who persistently dip their hands into the national coffers as if there is no tomorrow?

Elsewhere, though, both past and incumbent heads of state may face the laws without any recourse to their status.

Take, for example, in recent times, the controversial South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, found herself in a wide-ranging corruption and cronyism scandal, which culminated in her removal from office in March 2017.

And more recently, former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, who has been cited as the most famous president in Brazil’s contemporary history, has been sentenced to nine years and six months in jail after being found guilty on corruption and money-laundering charges (Source: guardian.co.uk, 12/07/2017).

Surely, we could do better. So let us do so. Let us amend or expunge the irrational laws and replace them with innovative and expedient laws.

Until such time, any alleged corrupt former president is free to enjoy his/her ill-gotten wealth.

K. Badu, UK.