Ghana: Mahama’s car gift brouhaha, filing of nomination papers for elections reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The brouhaha over a car gift given to President John Dramani Mahama by a Burkinabe contractor while he was vice president and filing of nomination papers by presidential and parliamentary candidates for the 7 December elections were some of the stories reported in Ghana this week.

The opposition parties latched onto the story when it was reported by an Accra-based radio station describing it as a case of bribery and conflict of interest. The vehicle was received officially by the Ghana mission in Burkina Faso, processed by the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority and placed presidential pool. President Mahama has never used it.

Two members of two opposition parties, the Convention People's Party (CPP) and Progressive People’s Party (PPP) petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the matter.

And on Thursday, CHRAJ dismissed the bribery allegations levelled against President Mahama over the receipt of the Ford Expedition vehicle as a gift and also exonerated him of the allegation of conflict of interest.

“CHRAJ clears Mahama of bribery allegation,” was the headline of the state-owned Graphic newspaper.

It quoted CHRAJ as saying that “at the end of its preliminary investigation, the Commission came to the conclusion, based on the extensive evidence assembled, that the allegation that the respondent (President Mahama) has contravened Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution by putting himself in situations of conflict of interest had not been substantiated.

“Consequently, the commission holds that full or further investigations into the allegation are not warranted. The allegations, therefore, are hereby dismissed,” a 79-page report signed by the acting Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Richard Quayson, stated.

It said it was clear from the evidence available that the President surrendered the gift in question for use by the state “and the vehicle has been under the charge of the Counter Assault Team (CAT) at the Office of the President”.

It said beyond accepting the prohibited gift, the available evidence did not show that the President was partial, used his office for private profit and induced another person for his profit.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times reported the story under the headline, “President has done no wrong …. CHRAJ declares in Ford saga.”

The newspaper said CHRAJ noted that President Mahama violated the gift policy for accepting a Ford Expedition gift from a Burkinabe contractor, but his action did not constitute bribery.

The Commission added that the allegations of conflict of interest and fraud against the President were not substantiated by the complainants.

According to CHRAJ, although the gift constituted a prohibition under the Gift Policy Code of Conduct, the subject of contention (the vehicle) was kept in the Presidential vehicle pool and used in the interest of the state.

It explained that it was unable to determine a case of conflict of interest which the complainants sought to rely on, because of a non-existent and clear-cut constitutional provision on conflict of interest.

On the filing of nomination papers for the elections, the media reported that at the end of the deadline on Friday, 17 aspirants presented their papers to the Electoral Commission (EC) to contest the presidential race.

Hundreds of candidates also filed their papers to contest the 275 parliamentary seats.

The EC will scrutinise the papers and inform the candidates later whether their papers have been accepted.

The filing of papers was nearly halted when an opposition party, the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), filed an injunction at the High Court in Accra seeking to force the EC reduce the filing fees.

The EC therefore collected the forms without the filing fees as it awaits the hearing of the case.

The Ghanaian Times reported the story under the headline, “EC suspends collection of filing fees.”

It said the EC had suspended the collection of filing fees from presidential and parliamentary aspirants contesting the December polls, due to the legal contention over the amount.

The Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, told the aspirants who presented their nomination forms in Accra to hold on to their monies until further notice.

“We want you to hold on to the amount for now. We shall invite you to present them when we get clearance from our lawyers,” she said.

The EC increased by filing fees by about 1,000 per cent to 50,000 Ghana cedis for presidential candidates and 10,000 Ghana cedis for parliamentary candidates. (US$1=3.97 Ghana cedis).

Under the law, presidential candidates poll 25 per cent of the votes would have a refund while parliamentary candidates who obtain 12.5 per cent of the votes will also have a refund.
-0- PANA MA 1Oct2016

01 october 2016 06:15:46

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