General News of Friday, 23 March 2018
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused government of harassing former appointees of the Mahama administration with “malicious prosecutions”.
In a statement signed by General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the party made reference to the reported commencement of the trial of the immediate-past Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, as a clear case of witch-hunting of persons perceived to be linked to the NDC.
Dr Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and AgriCult Ghana Company Limited, are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of GHS217million to the state, through three separate fertiliser supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.
The contracts were GHS43.1million (2013/2014 cocoa farming season), GHS75.3million (2014/2015 cocoa farming season) and GHS98.9million (2015/2016 cocoa farming season) totalling GHS217million through sole-sourcing, the state claimed, adding that procurement procedures for sole-sourcing were not followed.
According to the charges, the consignments of Lithovit Foliar were produced locally, contrary to an agreement between COCOBOD and AgriCult Ghana Company Limited that it be sourced from Germany.
Also, the Attorney General claims the fertilisers were manufactured without registration, thereby, flouting the Plants and Fertiliser Act 2010.
However, the NDC said: “…The charges even at a time when Dr Opuni and his counsel had not been informed of the development, runs contrary to decent and professional conduct and we condemn same in the strongest possible terms”.
The NDC believes the prosecution is aimed at diverting attention from corruption cases in the present government.
The NDC said it is demanding “fairness in the judicial process and it is our expectation that historical hostility to the NDC, whether real or perceived, will play no role in the determination of all cases and that only the facts of each case, the position of the law and the objective assessment of same will inform any outcome”.
Below is the full statement:
STATEMENT ON HARASSMENT AND MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) FUNCTIONARIES
The National Democratic Congress has learned of a news item in which the Akufo-Addo government is reported to have indicated the commencement of the trial of the immediate past Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and one Alhaji Seidu Agongo in the coming days.
We wish ab initio, to place on record, our total belief in the rule of law and the need to fight corruption and wrong doing in public office. We have offered indisputable proof of this by becoming the only governing party in the history of the fourth republic to successfully prosecute its own member.
We have taken note of the populists and prejudicial conduct of the Akufo-Addo government and the Attorney General in the Opuni matter through the publication of twenty-seven charges against him and Alhaji Agongo in the media.
It is our position that the publication of the charges even at a time when Dr Opuni and his counsel had not been informed of the development, runs contrary to decent and professional conduct and we condemn same in the strongest possible terms.
We are aware that the announcement of the commencement of the trial and the publication of the charges were deliberately done to achieve two objectives.
The first was to divert attention from the public outrage that greeted three major corruption scandals that broke out last week under the Akufo Addo government.
We refer to the GHS 23million oil corruption scandal at BOST, the GHS 28 million used car scandal at MASLOC and the nepotistic award of eleven contracts in a single day to a sister-in-law of the NLA CEO. The second was to deliberately prejudice the outcome of the trial, demonize Dr Opuni and prepare the grounds for the public to expect only one outcome after the trial. This in turn derives from a desperate desire to justify the many malicious falsehoods told about Dr Opuni in particular and the NDC government in general in the run up to the 2016 elections and its immediate aftermath.
We have always been aware that the Akufo Addo government, in light of its knowledge that it cannot fulfil the legion of utopian campaign promises made to Ghanaians, has devised a scheme to use malicious prosecutions of NDC functionaries to curry favour with the electorate in the hope that a false notion of anti-corruption would form the basis of their re-election in 2020.
We had however never thought that such crudeness and blatant disregard for the rights of our members would be the weapons of choice in this political vendetta. We have been apprised of countless instances of harassment, intimidation, lawlessness and abuse of processes suffered by our members under the guise of investigations into alleged wrongdoing by various state bodies.
We have also observed the sanctimonious and hypocritical sermons on corruption by President Akufo Addo and his never-ending promises of prosecutions. It is obvious that his notion of fighting corruption is limited to the unjust pursuit and witch-hunt of political opponents while turning a blind eye to massive corruption right under his nose by his appointees.
His practice of obscene nepotism and cronyism through the appointment of scores of relatives, known friends and business partners into government, the allocation of juicy contracts to them and his total inaction in the face of mounting evidence of corruption in his government, completely expose his duplicity on the matter.
We wish to make clear, that contrary to the Akufo Addo government’s misguided belief that the maltreatment of our members, hasty media trials and the peddling of outrageous falsehoods against them will meet with a docile party, we will take every reasonable step to assert the innocence of our members and insist on respect for their fundamental human rights.
We once again reiterate our commitment to the fight against corruption and support for due process in the attainment of same. That commitment and support does not extend to malicious trials and politically motivated harassment.
We demand fair and lawful treatment for all our members and an immediate end to harassment from the various investigative bodies.
We also demand fairness in the judicial process and it is our expectation that historical hostility to the NDC, whether real or perceived, will play no role in the determination of all cases and that only the facts of each case, the position of the law and the objective assessment of same will inform any outcome.
Johnson Asiedu Nketia General Secretary