Emerging evidence shows that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is no more interested in the Special Prosecutor continuing with the investigation of the Airbus scandal.
Rather, President Akufo-Addo wants his Minister of Justice and Attorney General (AG) to take over the probe, Today can authoritatively confirm.
Ghana was among the five countries in which the European aviation giant, Airbus, paid or attempted to pay millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for contracts, leading a court in Britain to slap a fine of £3 billion on the company.
And following the judgement of the Crown Court at Southwark in the United Kingdom (UK) where some Ghanaian officials were involved in the illicit procurement of the aircraft, President Akufo-Addo, through his director of communications, directed the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, to investigate the case.
“President Akufo-Addo has taken notice of the judgment and its implications, and has referred it to the Office of the Special Prosecutor to collaborate with its UK counterparts to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present, involved in the said scandal, and to take the necessary legal action against any such official, as required by Ghanaian law,” a statement from the presidency read.
But it looks like one month after the case was referred to Mr Amidu, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is not satisfied with the work done so far by him [Mr Amidu], hence the government’s move to involve the AG in the probe.
A cabinet memo dated 27th February, 2020 and sighted by Today recommended that the AG should work hand-in-hand with the Office of the Special Prosecutor in the Airbus probe.
Confirming the content of the said leaked cabinet memo which failed to give reasons for the AG’s inclusion in the Airbus probe, a senior cabinet minister (name withheld) who claimed he was at the said meeting told this reporter that the recommendation was necessary, although it received some resistance from some of his colleague ministers.
“Some of us knew from day one when the President referred the matter to the Special Prosecutor that Martin Amidu will not be able to investigate this scandal.” the minister said.
“I’m sure President Akufo-Addo himself knew Martin will fail but because he (Akufo-Addo) did not want people to think he was after past appointees that’s why Amidu came in,” he added.
When asked why the Akufo-Addo’s trusted minister explained that since Mr Amidu was a key member of the government which supervised the illicit purchase of the aircrafts it was morally improper for him to investigate it.
“We all know Amidu was the chief legal advisor to the then government when the contract for the purchase of the aircrafts was awarded so one way or the other he played a role”, he said.
When probed further to know why government was so interested in the airbus scandal when there were similar alleged corrupt scandals involving current appointees of President Akufo-Addo, the minister said, “if anybody has any evidence of corruption against any appointee of the current administration that person can also push for an investigation to be done”.
“As for us (NPP) we have ample evidence to prove that that the elected Government Official 1 in the Airbus scandal is Mr John Mahama, and we’ll ensure that Mr Mahama faces the full rigours of the law,” the minister said.
According to the minister, “the Airbus Scandal is part of the reasons Mr Mahama who is the 2020 flag-bearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has not been able to name his running mate because members of the NDC even know that when prosecution starts in earnest, Mahama will not survive” .
Corroborating the government’s stance on the Airbus probe targeting Mr Mahama as a prime suspect, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, last week Tuesday disclosed that his ministry had triggered the process for the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to name persons involved in the Airbus scandal.
According to him, the AG’s Department was exploring Ghana’s cooperation agreement with the UK and that “a letter has been written by the AG l to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) requesting for the information, so the process has been triggered for such information to be given”.
Mr Dame said this at a press interaction held on the sidelines of the opening two-day conference on dealing with transnational crimes organised by the Attorney General Alliance (AGA-Africa) in Accra.
He indicated that the Special Prosecutor would unravel the circumstances surrounding the transaction if the key actors would not want to come out and explain their roles and circumstances before the people, “then the legal process would be pursued to ensure that they account for that.”
Mr Dame whose statement seemed to suggest that the 2020 flag-bearer of the NDC was was one of the accomplices in the Airbus scandal said, in the spirit of accountability to the people, probity, integrity and transparency, one would have expected those key government officials who negotiated and/or were involved in the impugned transaction to self-report and voluntarily cooperate with the investigations directed by President Akufo-Addo
“From the Preamble to our constitution, probity and accountability are the bedrock for the democratic principles on which the affairs of the state are run.
“Having previously sworn an oath to defend the constitution and its principles, it is ironic that the past government officials in question will not open up to the people on the role they played in a transaction the subject matter of a criminal matter in a British court”, he said.
But according to our sources at the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Mr Amidu who is noted for his strong principles and beliefs in corruption related matters was not happy with the new development.
Mr Amidu who the source said was also equally not happy with public pronouncement on the case which is still under investigation was not ready to succumb to any political pressure to fast track the investigation.
According to our source, Mr Amidu had even told President Akufo-Addo that, he would not yield to any political pressure to prosecute the latter’s political opponents.
It would be recalled that, Mr Amidu, commencing the Airbus probe in a statement said: “The Special Prosecutor has determined that the said referral and deferred prosecution of agreements and judgments accompanying them raise reasonable suspicion of the commission of corruption and corruption-related offences of bribery of public officers and the use of public office by public officers for private office which are offences falling within the mandate of this office under the office of the Special Prosecutor Act 2017 Act (595). A preliminary investigation was, accordingly opened on 4 February 2020 by this office into the allegations contained in the judgements referred to this Office aforesaid”,
The statement further said that, the relevant domestic public institutions had been invited to provide relevant documents to aid in the probe.
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Mr Amidu therefore , urged the public not to speculate or politicise the content of the UK and America courts on the matter until after the outcome of the investigations.
“The relevant domestic public institutions which can assist the ongoing investigations have been contacted to provide information and documents under Act (595).
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor appeals to the general public not to speculate or politicise the disclosures made in the deferred prosecutors agreements and judgements so as to allow this office to treat the suspected crimes as suspected crimes simplicita and nothing more pending the conclusion of the investigations,” the statement said.