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General News of Friday, 25 January 2019


Ayariga threatens showdown with Special Prosecutor

The Special Prosecutor (SP), Mr Martin Alamisi Amidu, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, are set for a full-blown legal battle after the SP had secured a court order for the MP’s call records.

On January 22, 2019, Mr Amidu secured an order from the Accra Circuit Court directing the mobile phone operator, MTN, to release call records of a conversation Mr Ayariga allegedly had with an officer of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) from December 1, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

I will challenge it

However, the MP, in a statement, has vowed to challenge the court order, saying: “I have instructed my lawyers accordingly.”

He has also advised MTN not to “hastily” yield to the order but rather “exhaust all legal challenges” before releasing the phone records of its customers.

According to him, he would have handed his phone records to the SP to show that he never had the said conversation with the GRA officer, but he wanted to use legal means to bring clarity on the right to privacy.

“I, however, think that in the interest of developing clarity on the law protecting the privacy of the communication of Ghanaian citizens on mobile telecommunications platforms and setting proper precedents, the breadth of the court order should be subjected to legal scrutiny,’’ he said.

Why the SP wants the call records

It is believed that Mr Amidu wants the call records as part of investigations into what he terms allegations into the “commission of corruption and corruption-related offences, including the abuse of public office for private gain” by Mr Ayariga.

The SP, in a statement in August last year, revealed that Mr Ayariga, a former Minister of Science, Environment, Technology and Innovation in the previous administration, was under investigations over the alleged corrupt deal relating to the importation of some Toyota Landcruiser V8 vehicles.

Mr Amidu accused Mr Ayariga of sending some personal friends, former colleagues, chiefs, pastors, among others, to beg him (Amidu) to stop the investigations against him (Ayariga).

He further said that he had reported the Bawku Central MP to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for attempting to block a probe into the acquisition of three used white Toyota Landcruiser V8 vehicles after refusing to honour an invitation by EOCO over the matter.

"The suspect refused to report to the offices of EOCO in Accra, as demanded by a publication at page 26 of the Daily Graphic on June 20, 2018, with vehicle numbers GR 2220-18, GR 2221-18, GR 2222-18, GT 2243-17 and GT 4054-13.

Consequently, it fell on me to write to the Speaker of Parliament, with a copy to Honourable Mahama Ayariga (the suspect), in my letter dated June 26, 2018, to release the suspect to report to EOCO on July 3, 2018.

"When the suspect, Honourable Mahama Ayariga, received his copy of my letter to the Speaker, he immediately started to get people he perceived could put pressure on me (such as personal friends, former colleagues, chiefs, men of God, etc.) to abate the investigations being conducted in the performance of my functions under acts 959 and 804.

I asked EOCO on a number of occasions to warn the suspect to desist from his conduct of obstructing the investigations by soliciting others to put pressure on me to abate same, to no avail,” he said.