You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2009 09 30Article 169430

Opinions of Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

President Mills Cannot and Will Not Do This

A Guide To Corruption (4). President Mills Cannot and Will Not Do This

By Sydney Casely-Hayford. www.ghananewsmonthly.com

You can read all about the Mabey and Johnson judgment from the leading websites on Ghana. Each carries the story and details what I said in an earlier breaking news alert of August 7th. At the time, I wrote about the impending implosion and chronicled the history of the Mabey and Johnson bribery of NDC executives in another Guide to Corruption (http://www.thenewghanaian.com/viewnews.asp?id=3264&page=news). Since then we have waited patiently for September 25th and this is just the beginning. I will dare to suggest that President Mills will make a show of investigating the issues involved and former President JJ Rawlings will pretend that all this happened under his nose and he knew nothing of it, even though his senior cabinet ministers were in the thick of it, and so was his wife.

President Mills has allegedly asked the Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrissu to investigate the Mabey and Johnson case in Ghana and spare no one found guilty of the offences established by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

Well, the first thing that must happen is Dr. Sipa Yankey and other appointed persons must resign, they must be indicted, charged and tried. On the back of the Quality Grain Rice issue, for which he was jailed by the NPP Government, pardoned by President Kuffuor and subsequently appointed a minister by President Mills (even though he has a criminal background) he is in the middle of another corruption case. The monies he received are only the tip of the iceberg. Bear in mind that the UK SFO’s report only details about UK100,000 pounds of the UK470,000 paid in bribes. Where is the rest? Who got it? Can the NDC party explain?

No smoke without fire. In paragraph 114, the prosecution notes in the trial T20097513, the then NDC finance committee, included Kwame Peprah as Minister of Finance, Obed Asamoah for Justice, Mrs Konadu Rawlings, amongst others was part of the scandal. Our campaign finance laws were clearly flouted, with government ministers involved in NDC finance matters. Did no one see the conflict of interest? Did President Mills not see this, when at the time he was in charge of the Government’s economic management team? The UK SFO cites the NDC finance committee as partakers in the corruption but does not mention how much they siphoned from the deal. If you remember those days, Ghanaians complained constantly of the contract cuts “demanded” by NDC executives before performance. Remember also the days when Obed Asamoah was in the news about cash stolen from under his bed? The corruption trail is there and as time goes on and more is revealed, we will splice the picture together.

Joy FM ( http://news.myjoyonline.com/politics/200909/35693.asp ) reports JJ saying “The quick response by President Mills in requesting further investigations into these allegations can only be applauded. However, hesitancy and inaction in the days to come will be seen as not serving the greater good”. Where was he during the time this corruption was going on? He was the head of state. He didn’t know what was happening under his nose? He saw nothing? now he wants Mills to act fast? He did not act for five years and he calls the convictions of a UK court “allegations”. This is JJ’s mentality. It is always someone else’s responsibility and in his mind no one is guilty unless he says so. When PV Obeng and Ato Quarshie were reigned before the Commission For Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) they both left the Government. Ato Quarshie because he was not wanted back and PV because of a fall out with the “Old Man”. JJ refused to accept the CHRAJ report, refused to gazette it, because his Government said they had not had a chance to review the report before it was published. Talk about the corruption cocktail. PV Obeng has admitted he collected “consulting fees” from SCANCEM while he was in Government and Ato Quarshie is now embroiled in this scandal.

All the ministers involved in the bribery case have educated their children abroad, including JJ and Konadu Rawlings.

The NPP and former President Kuffuor betrayed the trust of the people of Ghana in two major ways. One, they promised to clean the country of the corruption inherited from a decade and more of the rule of the (P)NDC, which is one of the main reasons why they were voted into power. Kuffuor then turns tail and pardons those jailed by a competent court of the country, thus undermining the judiciary and two, the NPP failed to pass the most important legislation ever in our history when they had the opportunity to do so; the Freedom of Information Bill. Had they done so, we would be telling a different tale of corruption at this time.

Mills cannot prosecute this case to its full extent in Ghana for many reasons. The NDC party is implicated in this scandal and he cannot afford to go against the party. President Mills does not have a real following in the party. The power base is JJ Rawlings and Mills will be a one-term candidate if he turns against JJ. Nana Konadu had a part to play in this mess, noted clearly by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and that can of worms cannot be opened. President Mills has demonstrated to Ghanaians that his bar of accountability is very low. His key transition leader was PV Obeng. Key Ministerial appointments, Chairpersons of various Boards, Ambassadors and other agency heads are questionable. President Mills cannot say that he believes that Dr. Sipa Yankey, Dan Abodakpi and Kwame Peprah were jailed only because they were NDC appointees? And this goes to the core of the issue at stake here.

Once this case is opened, President Mills must broaden the scope. All contracts during Kwame Peprah’s tenure as Finance Minister must be investigated. There are issues in Cocobod during the tenure of Mr. Newman. There are major contracts involving other British companies such as ICI, Trafalgar House, BiWater and New York Bay Company. There are pending cases in the in-tray of the Ghana SFO, in the Ministries of Education and Finance and the role of DFID and other bi-lateral donor agencies, Ghana Investment Promotion Council, Ghana Export Promotion Council, Ministry of Trade; and when we get to the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority, then we will be in the nitty-gritty of affairs. And if he really wants to come clean, let’s re-open the murder of Mobilla, the shooting of Ahongar and Ahulu during the Kume Preko protests, the strange poisoning of Djin Soussoudis, Danny Ofori Atta’s death, the recent Agbogbloshie murders. Let us not try and pretend that this is the only open item we have. This Mabey and Johnson scandal has the NDC’s DNA imprint all over it and President Mills cannot untangle it without unraveling other parts. He will not do it.