Speaker dismisses motion to investigate President's Ford gift

By Ken
Sackey/Benjamin Mensah

Accra, Sept. 1, GNA – The Speaker of
Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, on Thursday dismissed a motion by the
Minority for a bi-partisan special committee to investigate the controversial
Ford Expedition gift to President John Mahama by a Burkinabe contractor.

The Minority, through its leader Osei
Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu, earlier in August in the motion, called on the House to
investigate the receipt or otherwise of the vehicle by the President, if
receipt infringed on any of the Laws of Ghana and on his (President’s) Code of
Conduct.

The House which had been on recess since July
was recalled following the motion to the Speaker.

Proceedings for the day started about midday
rather than the stipulated 1000 hours, and business for the day lasted for less
than 10 minutes after prayers.

After the Speakers ruling at the well-attended
plenary, the Majority side displayed placards that made mockery of the
Minority’s insistence on a parliamentary inquest into the Ford gift to the
President.

Mr Adjaho, addressing the House, dismissed the
motion on the grounds that the matter was being considered by the Commission on
Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHJRAJ), recalling that some political
parties and personalities had taken the matter to that state institution for
investigation.

He said upon receipt of the motion he sought
to find out whether the matter was under investigation at the CHRAJ and
consequently directed the Clerk of Parliament to conduct a search that proved
the matter was under investigation there.

The Speaker said the search showed that there
were three petitions before the Commission and that the matter currently before
CHRAJ was no different in shape or form from the motion brought by the
Minority.

Quoting Articles 286 and 287 of the
Constitution that gives the CHRAJ the power to investigate matters of
corruption and breach of code of conduct, he said: “I am firmly convinced CHRAJ
is the only mandated body to probe this case.”

The Speaker also referred to a Supreme Court
judgement in a case in which Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Dr Edward
Omane-Boamah sued the late Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey for abusing his office in
his purchase of a state bungalow.

Mr Ablakwa and Dr Omane-Boamah are now serving
as deputy ministers of Education and Communications respectively, while the
late Obetsebi Lamptey served in the erstwhile Kufuor Administration in
different capacities, including Minister of State of different portfolios.

Speaker Adjaho said the Supreme Court had made
a number of rulings on the exclusive jurisdiction of constitutionally mandated
bodies, including the CHRAJ, on dealing with the Code of Conduct of public
officers, including the President.

The Speaker, dismissing the motion, said the
House was bound by the interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court,
saying; “It is my view that CHRAJ is the institution vested with the exclusive
authority to investigate the matter relating to the Ford gift.”

The Speaker invoked constitutional provisions
that empowered him to exercise discretionary powers and said; “As Speaker,
I’m of the firm belief that constitutional bodies must respect each other in
order to avoid conflict.”

He directed the Clerk of Parliament to return
the motion to the member in whose name it stood and adjourned the House sine
die.

Earlier at a press conference on Wednesday,
Majority Leader Alban Bagbin said the recall was unnecessary and a waste of
public resources, counting the cost of transporting legislators and other
ancillary staff of parliament back and forth, logistics, publicity and the risk
involved in travelling.

He said the motion was a ploy by the Minority
to throw as much dirt on the President before the December 7 elections.

But the Minority, in a rebuttal after the
proceedings, told a press conference addressed by its leader, Mr Osei
Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu that the Speaker’s rejection of the motion was a “cabalistic
display of power that we have witnessed since the Fourth Republic began.” 

He described the Speaker’s decision to quash
the motion as “whimsical and capricious”, saying the side was
disappointed the Speaker ceded the powers of parliament to CHRAJ and that the
House had lost a good opportunity to invoke its powers of oversight on the
Executive.

Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu said the call for the
inquest into the president’s receipt of the said gift was a matter that had
been brought before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the
Minority was only asking the House to exercise its oversight responsibility
over the conduct of a public official, including the President.

He explained further that had the Speaker
allowed the motion to go through, it would have been a good opportunity for
President Mahama to clear himself of the tag of bribery and corruption
currently trending.

“There is no institution better than
Parliament to have investigated this issue,” the Minority Leader said, adding
that if the Speaker’s ruling was anything to go by, then the recent judicial
scandal involving some judges should have been referred to the CHRAJ and not
the courts.

He said the Speaker arbitrarily exercised his
powers of discretion in dismissing the case.

It will be recalled that a journalist,
Manasseh Azuri Awuni, reported that a Burkinabe contractor, Mr Jibril Kanozoe
gifted a Ford Expedition vehicle to President Mahama in 2012.

According to Awuni, that same year, Kanazoe
was awarded two contracts – the fencing of the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso at
a cost of $650,000 and the construction of part of the Eastern Corridor Road
Project.

GNA

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