General News of Saturday, 3 September 2016
Steps taken by the Minority in Parliament to cause a Parliamentary probe into a controversial gift to the President was rejected on Thursday.
Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, single-handedly shot down the Minority’s motion which occasioned a recall of Parliament.
Below is the Minority’s full statement
I thank you for the opportunity to move the motion advertised on the order paper, today Thursday, September 1, 2016. The motion which I submitted on behalf of the Minority group in Parliament reads:
In respect of this motion a request, signed by an overwhelmingly larger number than the 15% of Members of Parliament as provided for under Article 112 (3) in the 1992 Constitution was submitted to Mr Speaker.
The notice for the motion has been duly signed by my humble self on behalf of the group of Members of Parliament as the members proposing the motion as required by Order 79(2). The motion thereafter was duly submitted as provided
under Order 79(1).
Article 112(3) provides for the Speaker to summon Parliament within seven days after the receipt of the request. Order 38(1) provides further amplification by stating “The Speaker shall, pursuant to clause 3 of Article 112 of the Constitution, upon a request of 15% of Members of Parliament, summon a Meeting of Parliament within 7 days after the receipt of the request, except that the meeting shall commence not later than 7 days after the issue of the summons”.
The combined effect of the two provisions is that, Mr Speaker is required to act within a maximum of 14 days for Parliament to meet in such a circumstance.
All the persons involved in this motion have been compliant with the provisions of both the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the House, the Standing Orders. That is commendable. Mr Speaker, the antecedent to this motion is a report of the Auditor-General which was submitted to Parliament and which covered this matter.
The facts of the matter as we understand, are the following, that:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had procured a parcel of land at Ouagadougu to facilitate the construction of a new structure for Ghana’s embassy in that Republic.
In order to secure the land before construction began a perimeter wall was to be erected. Bids were invited for the construction of the perimeter wall.
Ghana’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso at the time preselected three (3) bidders for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to award the contract to any of the three that the Ministry deemed fit.
The firm of one Mr. Djibril Kanazoe was eventually chosen to construct the wall at a cost of six hundred and fifty-six thousand, two hundred and forty-six United States of America dollars and forty-eight cents (US$656,246.46), the equivalent of about two million and six hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (GHC2,600,000.00).
The parcel of land is about four (4) standard plots, i.e. about one (1) acre or 0.4 hectare.
The wall which is about two (2) metres high has two (2) security posts. The Managing Director of the successful construction company Mr. Djibril Kanazoe had, until he won the bid to construct the perimeter wall around the parcel of land described, submitted bids for some construction projects earlier in 2010 all of which had been unsuccessful.
Mr Kanazoe after his unsuccessful bids got introduced to the then Vice President of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama by a Ghanaian contractor friend, Mr. Mike Aidoo, Managing Director of Mikado Co. Ltd, a Ghanaian Construction Company. Mr Kanazoe became friends with the then Vice President after the meeting facilitated by Mr. Mike Aidoo.
That, at that meeting with the then Vice President, Mr. Kanazoe told the former about his business as a contractor and the fact that he had on occasions submitted bids for contracts on Ghanaian projects but had not been successful.
Mr. Kanazoe won the bid to construct the perimeter wall after the friendship with the then Vice President was courted.
That, after the friendship had been established the said Djibril Kanazoe’s company won a second bid, the construction of a section of the Eastern Corridor road, in particular, the Dode Pepeso – Nkwanta road, at a cost of Twenty-five million Euros (€25,000,000.00).
That, after the payment of the first (1st) tranche of the cost of the construction of the perimeter wall in Ouagadougou, which payment was effected in the last quarter of 2012 the Managing Director of the company that had executed the contract Mr. Kanazoe Djibril procured and donated to his friend the former Vice President, who had then become the President after the transition of President JEA Mills, a Ford Expedition vehicle with chassis number IFMJUIJ58AEB748 and Engine number: E173A1905101.
That the said Ford Expedition country vehicle entered Ghana on October 29, 2012 through the Paga entry point (border). That clearance of the vehicle was done at the Tema port on February 13, 2013 by Vision Logistics Ltd a private Clearing House.
That the name of the importer of the said vehicle was listed as Sheik Mohammed Ouadrago.
That subsequent to the presentation of the said vehicle to the President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama the contractor was chosen to do the following major contract works: a) the Dode-Pepeso-Nkwanta road at a cost of €25million; and b) a 28km portion o the Wa-Hamile road at a cost of Eighty-two million Ghana cedis (GHC82,000,000.00).
According to the Hon. Minister for Roads and Highways, the justification for the award of the sole-sourced contract for the 28km stretch of the Wa-Hamile road to Mr. Djibril Kanazoe’s company was that:
that Mr. Kanazoe’s company had excellently executed the works on the Dode-Pepeso-Nkwanta road and had, accordingly, received high commendation from the President of the Republic at the commissioning of the project in-question upon its completion; That the Wa-Hamile road was very close to Burkina Faso the home country and base of Mr. Kanazoe.
That within one month after the commissioning of the Dode-Pepeso-Nkwanta road, the road had started to deteriorate and the DCE for the area had admitted to that fact and accordingly informed the Volta Regional Minister.
That after the publication of the outcome of a private investigative journalist in respect of the donation of the said Ford Expedition vehicle to the President John Dramani Mahama, various comments have been made by various groups, private citizens as well as activists of various political parties.
Some of these comments have sought to indicate that the President conducted himself in a manner which had brought or was likely to bring his office into disrepute, ridicule or contempt; some of the comments attributed plain corruption to the conduct of the President whilst others indicated that the President’s conduct was in breach of some provisions of the Constitution.
Some other comments sought to vindicate the President and saw nothing untoward in the conduct of the President in his acceptance of the donation of the Ford Expedition vehicle, and pointed to an earlier incident in a previous administration involving the donation of a Mercedes Benz saloon to the Presidency.
His Excellency the President on at least one occasion has had cause to state that his conduct in that particular incident was above board and that he had nothing to hide.
The President on at least one occasion has further stated that if inspite of his declaration there were doubts then the persons who are not satisfied could apply themselves to the relevant constitutional provisions.
In spite of the President’s own denial of any wrong doing, and inspite of the stoic defence mounted by many persons, agents and assigns of the President for the President there are still many Ghanaian who, on virtually daily basis continue to castigate and pour invectives on the President for what they consider as a misconduct.
Prayer of motion
Parliament is the body that is vested with the oversight authority over the Executive in such matters. Article 1(1) of the constitution vests sovereignty in the people of Ghana.
Indeed the said article reads: “The Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in the Constitution”.
The powers of government are to be exercised for the welfare of the people, the governed, not the government! Parliament is the House that is composed of persons, Members, who represent the people of this country.
The Preamble of the constitution is the soul and spirit of the entire constitution. That the preamble which is an encapsulation of the vision and aspirations of the people declares and affirms our commitment to Probity and Accountability, among other things.
It has been argued by some people, including some Members of this House, that aspects if this matter that we have raised today have gone before the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and that Parliament should therefore not do anything that may tend to undermine the authority of CHRAJ.
The response to this is that the constitution per Article 187(5) makes Parliament the ultimate destination of the reports of the Auditor-General and not CHRAJ.
Some have also indicated that if the matter is before the Public Accounts Committee, why not allow the matter to rest before the Committee. Our response is that Article 187(6) fortifies our request to set up an ad-hoc committee.
Indeed Article 218(e) of the constitution provides for the report of CHRAJ in the matters to be submitted to the Attorney-General the appointee of the President to deal with the conclusions of CHRAJ. The matter would be dead at birth. That is why Parliament must assume its legitimate role.
This motion seeks to invite this House to invoke our powers of oversight to constitute a bi-partisan committee to delve into the matters raised ensuing from which many people in the country have proffered various comments, to establish at the end of its inquiry, whether or not the conduct of H.E. the
President is above aboard.
If the President’s conduct is found to be above board the President shall stand vindicated eternally. If, on the other hand, the President’s conduct is found to be inappropriate, Parliament in its wisdom, within the ambit of the constitution could proffer the relevant recommendation in order that such conduct shall not have further procreation.
This is the purpose of this motion. It is not meant to humiliate anybody. It is meant to establish truthfulness in order to broaden and deepen our democratic governance.
Mr. Speaker, the members who have appended their signatures to this motion are not unaware of the import of Article 69 which is on the removal of a President: We are not unaware of the fact that Article 69(2) does not call for the summoning of Parliament to debate the matter submitted to the Speaker.
We have elected to invoke the general oversight functions of Parliament in this matter in order to elicit a buy-in from the House, if indeed we are purposed not to abdicate our responsibility but to hold fast to our oaths.
We are aware of the fact that in the motion on the Offer, Sale and Purchase of Merchant Bank, one of the reasons assigned by colleagues on the other side of the divide was that the Minority group had not consulted the Majority.
This motion is aimed at providing the platform at the level of the Committee to be established to be very consultative in the effort to unravel the truth.
Mr. Speaker, Article 103(6) of the Constitution and indeed Order 155 of our Standing Orders vests in committees established by Parliament “the powers, rights and privileges of the High Court or a Justice of the High Court at a trial for – a) enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on Oath, affirmation or otherwise; b) Compelling the production of documents; and issuing a commission or request to examine witnesses abroad”.
A committee of Parliament is specifically vested with such authority.
An individual Member of Parliament is not clothed with such authority. An individual member could only invoke Article 21(1)(f) which states:
“All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications, and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
Clearly, if an individual member or a group of Members of Parliament undertake to delve into the issue, to the extent that the individual does not, or the group does not constitute a committee of Parliament, the individual Member or that particular group of Members would not be clothed with the powers of a committee and may therefore neither be able to compel attendance or the production of documents.
It is for these reasons why this motion is moved today so that Parliament would be seen to be standing together in the discharge of our oversight responsibilities. Mr. Speaker, I so move.