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Opinions of Sunday, 23 April 2017

Columnist: Francis Kwarteng

Prosecute Ibrahim Mahama and Kennedy Agyapong now!

By Francis Kwarteng

What a country!

It’s being alleged that either Ibrahim Mahama or his company Engineers & Planners (E & P) issued some dud cheques to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), supposedly to cover some heavy equipment he imported into the country.

However, there are a number of outstanding controversies surrounding who exactly may have issued those dud cheques.

As if it matters.

It doesn’t. Really.

And then apparently from nowhere, one technical hypothesis or theory after another suddenly resurfaces to muddle, obfuscate this indispensable strand of national discourse even further.

Here is how one such platform, “The Herald,” puts it:

“I am not a lawyer, but my first year law in the university, I was taught that a limited liability company is a separate legal entity from its owners; it can sue and can also be sued.

“We celebrate and worship mediocrity in this country, a Member of Parliament, does not know that Ibrahim Mahama is different from Engineers & Planners (E&P), you will have to strip the veil of incorporation before you can touch him.”

We may have to disagree with the substance of these critical observations on principle, in the strongest of terms.

We don’t think “The Herald” author is suggesting Ibrahim Mahama was not in the know that his company was importing heavy equipment into the country and that, somehow, import duty had to be paid.

We don’t think the author is also implying Ibrahim Mahama didn’t know how much the heavy equipment was going to cost his company, and how or through what means the import duty was to be paid, not to talk of whether he took the opportunity to look at the cheques.

A man like Ibrahim Mahama, with supposed business acumen will not overlook this commonsense approach to business transactions, especially involving a state institution such as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GBA).

But having said that, there are those still out there like Kofi Bentil, Vice President of think tank IMANI, who either don’t seem to endorse the clear separation that exists between Ibrahim Mahama as the CEO of E & R and his company, of the same name, or that they necessarily see an inseparable overlap between Ibrahim Mahama and the theory of a limited liability company.

Bentil has said in part in response to the raging controversy:

“If you write a cheque it is a liquidated sum that is a prima facie case against you.

“He also accused the president's brother of taking advantage of situation and called for the prosecution of officials at VRA who sat down in the face of clear breaches of the law.

“The 44 cheques is a trend; the amount involved is colossal.”

Bentil reportedly explained further that Ibrahim Mahama’s behavior constituted a criminal offense on the basis of the fact he breached the Bills of Exchange Act 1961 (Act 55).

Indeed the money in this controversy is huge, and could be used to construct bric-and-mortar structures for children in under-tree classrooms, just to name but one essential public service this colossal money can provide for the people.

Yet the Economic and Organized Crime (EOCO) is reported to have asked Ibrahim Mahama to pay what he or his company owes the government, with interest.

This is not fair.

This is a serious matter that must be prosecuted in a court of competent jurisdiction if the widely reported allegations are indeed true. Let’s not also gloss over the fact that Kennedy Agyapong is widely known for his boastful canards.

This proposed prosecution, if we may add, should be extended to all those state employees who may have received the dud cheques in behalf of the state, the GBA, including their imprisonment if consequently found guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction.

In the meantime, why these employees did not first communicate the outstanding issues surrounding these dud cheques to the EOCO is worthy of serious consideration for national investigation by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Yet, the controversial manner in which the EOCO reportedly dispensed with this matter is so not unlike reinstating the judges caught in the Ana Aremeyaw Anas’ investigational dragnet, and then asking the culprits involved to return all the bribes they took during the investigation—with interest.

Here, the Akufo-Addo government is a spitting image of ex-President Mahama’s.

Through the questionable investigational and forensic activities of the EOCO, the Akufo-Addo government has characteristically chosen to behave the same way as the presidency of Mahama during the Bus Branding Saga, so-called, which linked the then-Minister of Transport Dzifa Attivor to Selassie Ibrahim and her husband Ibrahim Adams, reportedly joint owners of Smarttys Management and Productions, when the Mahama administration asked the culprits merely to return the humungous amount involved in this disgraceful national controversy.

One thing is certain though: We should want to make it unambiguously clear that Kennedy Agyapong has no moral authority to speak on this matter.

This is because we do see a clear case of moral equivalence between his treasonous association with violent vigilante groups and Ibrahim Mahama’s import duty evasion.

Of course this is a man, a legislator for that matter, for God’s sake, who has gone on national television and radio and unabashedly professed his undying support for politically affiliated vigilante groups, the Invincible Forces and the Delta Force to name but two, even to the extent of publicly acknowledging or admitting to offering financial and logistical support to these groups during the 2016 general.

Here is what the national constitution has to say about the Invincible Forces, the Delta Force, Bolga Bulldogs, Kandahar Boys, Azorka Boys and so on (Note: Paa Kwesi Nduom threatened to form his own vigilante group, the Sea Lions)

“The 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which is the supreme law of the land, stipulates in Articles 200 (2) and 210 (2) that no person or authority shall raise any private army, police force or militia except by or on the authority of an Act of Parliament.”

Thus, in our layman’s opinion Kennedy Agyapong’s open admission to supporting vigilante groups constitutes grounds for treason and impeachment.

This is why we have been suggesting that he, like Ibrahim Mahama, should be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted for supporting these groups, and then if found guilty, imprisoned.

It does not really matter if both businessmen provide jobs to Ghanaians. The law must simply be made to work, and also it must not be forced to be a respecter of persons. Social justice, fairness and equity should be the guiding principles of our budding democracy.

Moreover, for, after all, we see Kennedy Agyapong as the biggest threat to Ghana’s national security, an argument we advanced in one of our articles titled “Kennedy Agyapong Is The Biggest Threat To National Security” (Ghanaweb, April 8, 2017)

On the other hand if the reported allegations against Ibrahim Mahama are true, then we will also argue that the appropriate state institutions should embark upon blacklisting his company E & P, and as well preventing it from acquiring or procuring any contracts from the Ghanaian government, and that even those in charge of companies that manage to procure contracts from the government and who also decide to outsource part of their contracts to Ibrahim Mahama’s company must be blacklisted as well—sanctioned.

We shall say here that, perhaps, if ex-President Mahama and the NDC had won re-election, nothing, absolutely nothing, will have come out of this strange bookful of dud cheques.

Certainly the re-election will have been the end of the story.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: SOME CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES

It’s our submission that the BNI and the CID should have thoroughly investigated Akufo-Addo and the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) prior to and during the 201 general elections, as it were for reportedly importing Serbian and South African mercenaries into the country to train the Invincible Forces and the Delta Force, on the blindside of the law.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) didn’t do it and so it should not, never in fact expect Akufo-Addo (and the NPP) to do it to himself. Investigate and prosecute himself, for what? There is an implicit assumption lingering in the back of our minds that suggests to us that the Akufo-Addo administration will not fight itself on the basis of the concept of sovereign immunity.

They say, “a house divided cannot stand.”

CONCLUSION

Some of these rich Ghanaians, politicians and non-politicians alike, who will be polishing the shoes of Aliko Dangote, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Patrice Motsepe, and Warren Buffet, are reprobate thieves and criminals.

Our political leaders these days are apprehensive about blatantly stealing from the public treasury, secreting the stolen money in offshore accounts, and eventually being found out.

Knowing this full well, they transfer this stolen money to their cronies through shady procurement deals—crony capitalism and sole sourcing. Crony capitalism and sole sourcing are killing Ghana.

Here is Bob Marley’s “Revolution”:

“It takes a revolution to make a solution…

“Too much confusion, so much frustration

“Can't trust no shadows after dark…

“Never make a politician grant you a favor…

“They will always want to control you forever…

“Let righteousness cover the earth, like the water cover the sea…

REFERENCES

Ghanaweb. “Is It Jealousy Or Witchcraft That Is Driving Kennedy Agyapong Against Ibrahim Mahama.” April 22, 2017.

Ghanaweb. “Ibrahim Mahama Committed No Crime By ‘Arranging’ To Pay Taxes—Loh.” April 22, 2017.