General News of Saturday, 27 August 2016
The family of the former New Patriotic Party (NPP) legislator for Bawku Central who was granted unconditional amnesty in 2012 by President John Mahama have dismissed claims that their relative received the pardon on false grounds.
The family was reacting to a claim by former Chief of Staff and lawyer for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nana Ato Dadzie, that Adamu Dramani Sakande’s petition to the President to be released on health grounds was a ruse to walk free.
Mr Sakande was jailed for perjury, false declaration of office, forgery and deceit of public officer in 2012.
“[Adamu Sakande] came out with a public statement that he was not ill, he has not been ill. The records are there” Ato Dadzie said on Newsfile on Joy FM and on the Joy News channel (Multi TV), Saturday.
Ato Dadzie said this to suggest that some members of the opposition party have equally enjoyed the benefits of the President’s prerogative of mercy even under less serious instances.
Some NPP members have said the recent remission of the sentences of the Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase was arbitrary and an abuse of the President’s discretional power to intervene in a sentence.
Others have said the three, jailed for scandalizing the court, were released on Friday August 27, 2016 because they are NDC activists.
Ato Dadzie also made reference to the Sakande pardon in his bid to ward off unrelenting criticisms that has greeted the recent remission of the sentence of the three. However, shortely after the NDC lawyer made the comments on Newsfile, an elder sister of Mr Adamu Sakande, who gave her name only as Elizabeth, called into the show to present a swift rebuttal.
“I have been instructed by my junior brother, Adamu Sakande, to ask you [host of the show] to require Nana Ato Dadzie to retract the false statement he made about his health during his incarceration and his health. As a matter of fact, he has never written a letter or held any press conference asserting that he was never sick.
“He is still battling with the aftermath of the issues concerning his health and currently seeking attention in the UK,” she told show host, Samson Anyenini.
Nana Ato Dadzie hurriedly retracted his claim, blaming a report he had read for the misinforamtion. He also apologized for same.
President Mahama granted an unconditional amnesty to the former NPP Parliamentarian in December of 2012 after he served five months in jail.
The Presidency at the time explained that the decision to pardon the legislator, who has been on admission at the cardio-thoracic center at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra was purely on medical grounds.
The then Bawku Central legislator was jailed in July 2012 after being convicted by an Accra High Court on charges of perjury, false declaration of office, forgery and deceit of public officer.
Soon after the December 2008 elections, Sumaila Bielbiel, a Bawku-based cattle dealer, challenged the eligibility of Sakande to be a Parliamentarian due to his dual citizenship.
Bielbiel had alleged that Sakande held both British and Burkinabe passports, a charge the MP initially denied, claiming he had renounced his British citizenship.
Ghana’s electoral laws provide that anyone with dual nationality would have to renounce the other citizenship to qualify for holding an elected position in Ghana.
Mr Sakande however denied the claims, spending most part of his term in Parliament fighting the case which travelled for over three years.
However, the state in a surprise move preferred criminal charges against the MP and successfully prosecuted him.
Expatiating on its judgment, the court noted that the prosecution had established beyond doubt that the Bawku Central MP was a Burkinabe, having been born in Burkina Faso, as his refugee pass issued in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1992 indicated, which the MP confirmed in his evidence before the court.
He was however given a reduced sentence although perjury is a second degree felony which attracts not less than a 10-year jail term, as his counsel,Yoni Kulendi, pleaded for leniency for the MP who was suffering from a heart condition.
After spending a few weeks at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison, Sakande was in August 2012 rushed to the Cardio-Thoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital after his heart conditioned worsened.