Ghana: Media report clash of anti-corruption crusaders, crises in opposition party

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Nasty exchanges between two prominent anti-corruption campaigners, the ongoing crises in the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the 2016 budget were some of the major stories reported in the Ghanaian media this week.

Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Martin Amidu this week attacked investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, calling into question his work and accusing him of carrying out illegalities and working for the government for profit.

The sudden attack of Amidu on Anas, whose work has been hailed internationally, caught the country by surprise, especially as his latest underground exposé that unearthed widespread corruption in the judiciary has been described as a masterpiece.

But for Amidu, who served under the late president John Evans Atta Mills until 2012, Anas is a “criminal”.

“Anas at war with Martin Amidu,” was the headline of a story in the state-owned Ghanaian Times which reported Amidu’s claim that the government “commissioned” Anas to investigate massive corruption in the judiciary.

Amidu claimed that the reason for such an action had its genesis in the acrimonious relationship between the government of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the judiciary on the assumption of power in 2009 and the constant demand by the judiciary for proof of judicial corruption.

Amidu said, unfortunately President Mills died before his commission could be fulfilled and his successor, President John Dramani Mahama, had chosen to use the results selectively and to suppress other results, particularly the parliamentary exposé, whose video is ready, available to the government and has with its permission being reviewed secretly by the leadership of one branch of government.

The state-owned Graphic in its version of the exchanges under the headline “Martin Amidu questions Anas’ integrity” said Amidu had called the integrity of Anas into question, suggesting that he had been compromised.

Mr Amidu alleged that it was the late President Mills who recruited Anas to collaborate with select security personnel to undertake the judicial corruption investigation, which exposed monumental bribery and corruption in the judiciary, involving over 180 workers, including 34 judges.

He said that the late President commissioned a two-pronged investigation targeting the judiciary and parliament. However, while President Mahama had sanctioned the release of the results of judiciary investigation to the public, he has compromised and suppressed the results involving parliament.

Mr Amidu also questioned the Attorney-General’s decision to grant immunity to Anas and his Tiger Eye PI team, whom he described as “entrepreneurial Government Commissioned undercover agents”. He said they had collaborated with established security agencies as independent whistle-blowers under the Whistleblowers Act and contrary to the private security organizations regulations.

“The principle I am fighting against is the use of paid private Government agents in an Orwellian Big Brother fashion contrary to the Constitution of Ghana.”

But Anas has denied the allegations. The Ghanaian Times reporting under the headline, “Anas refutes assertion” said he had vehemently denied the claims, pointing out that although it had collaborated with government agencies in the past, there was no collaboration in the investigations into the judiciary.

“In the case of our recent expose into the judiciary, we had no such collaboration. We did not seek it, did not want it, did not need it and did not require it. Nobody in government commissioned the work, it was our own singular effort.”

The Graphic in a story under the headline, “Martin Amidu goofed big time with Anas accusation – Kweku Baako” quoted Anas’s boss, the Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, Mr Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, also as denying that the undercover journalist was commissioned by the government.

He said anytime government or State agencies had had anything to do with projects undertaken by Anas, the journalist had publicly acknowledged it.

Mr Baako added that although Mr Amidu was ”a great patriot, passionate about the fight against corruption and bad governance, he has goofed big time” with his latest accusation.

The Graphic on Friday reported that the National Council of the opposition NPP had dismissed the petition by the chairman, Paul Afoko, against his indefinite suspension from the party as the destructive power struggle continued. It said Afoko could be heading to the court.

“Afoko’s petition dismissed,” was the headline of the story which said the National Council in an overwhelming majority decision upheld Mr Afoko’s indefinite suspension.

The power struggle is between the faction of Nana Akufo-Addo, presidential candidate, and former President John Kufuor.

The newspaper sad former President Kufuor was the first to leave the meeting while it was still in session. Nana Akomea, communications director of the NPP, said on Friday that the former president addressed the meeting calling for unity and left because he had a meeting in Accra with former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Already, two lives have been lost as a result of the struggle for turf within the party. Some activists of the party are so bent on seeing the back of the embattled chairman and are also calling for the suspension of the general secretary, Kwabena Agyepong.

However, some moderates have appealed to the NEC to exercise circumspection in the handling of Afoko’s suspension. They think everything must be done to build bridges in order to present a formidable force for the 2016 elections.

Ghana’s Finance Minister Seth Terkper in the 2016 budget to Parliament on Friday said the economy would grow by 4.1 per cent at the end of the year 2015.

This is up from the projected 3.5 per cent and slightly better that 4.0 per cent growth rate achieved in 2014.

Terkper said government's home-grown policies and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme brought good gains at consolidating the economy.

The Minister of Finance reiterated government’s promise not to overspend its budget during the 2016 general elections.
-0- PANA MA/AR 14Nov2015

14 november 2015 07:30:02

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