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Friday, September 25, 2009

I took £500 for school fees, not bribe - Boniface Saddiq

Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddiq
Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddiq

Alhaji Boniface Saddiq, one of seven politicians alleged to have collected 'inducement sums' from a UK construction firm has admitted collecting the money but insists it was not a bribe.

He told Joy FM’s Bernard Saibu he is surprised by the revelation, adding, the £500.00 he took around 1995, was in support of his Masters education as a student in the UK and not as a politician to influence any activity in Ghana.

Officials of the construction firm, Mabey & Johnson pleaded guilty at a Southwark Crown Court in London, Friday, for corrupting high ranking officials in Ghana and several other developing countries in the 1990s, paying close to half-a-million pounds in bribes before major projects were undertaken.

The UK-based company is said to have executed three contracts, – totaling £26 million – two priority bridges and a bridge along a feeder road. The exact locations of the bridges were not mentioned.

Health Minister Dr. Sipa Yankey, was alleged to have taken £10,500, whilst the Dr Ato Quarshie who was a former Works and Housing Minister allegedly benefited from a cheque of £55,000.

Other persons including one Mohammed Seidu is alleged to have taken £5,000 while £10,000 went to a certain Edward Attipoe.

Alhaji Saddiq was said to have picked some £500 for his school fees. He was then a student of International Banking and other related courses.

Former Finance Minister, Kwame Peprah was also alleged to have benefited from the deal which totaled £470,000.

Alhaji Boniface Saddiq who is also the immediate past Works and Housing Minister under the Kufuor administration, explained that prior to his enrollment for the Masters Degree, he worked as a schedule officer in the Finance Ministry where he came into contact with the UK firm, but maintained he worked conscientiously without demanding any money from them.

He confirmed receiving the £500.00 but said that was only to support his education.

“They knew I was there in London schooling, so they decided to give me £500 to support my education. To me at that time I was not doing any job, so giving me that money was not to influence me to do anything,” he said.

No reason was given before the money was paid, he said; and he saw it as a show of support having worked tirelessly in the Finance Ministry without collecting any money from them.

He is upset that 15 years after taking that ‘gift’, he will be accused of bribery.

Meanwhile the Attorney General, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrissu said she has begun thorough investigations into the matter on the instructions of President Mills.

“I have already sent a request to the UK to the appropriate authorities,” she told Joy News, adding the President himself already must have had preliminary talks with those implicated.

She gave the assurance that government will prosecute any member found culpable, in line with the criminal code of Ghana.

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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