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Friday, October 9, 2009

AFAG challenges Mills over M & J bribery

Political pressure group Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) has challenged president J.E.A. Mills to demonstrate his commitment to fighting corruption by prosecuting members of his party and government accused of taking bribes in a UK court.

It said the president blew a similar chance he had in the cases of former Youth and Sports Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak and Foreign Minister Mohammed Mumuni in whose case he turned a deaf ear incriminating evidence.

Addressing a press conference in Accra, a leading member of the group, Anthony Kabo said the president must without delay put before court NDC activists reported to have taken bribes from UK construction firm, Mabey & Johnson.

The company confessed in a court in UK in a plea bargain, that it paid thousands of Pounds to Ghanaian public officials in the 90s to influence the award of contracts for its benefit.

Some of the people mentioned as having received bribes from the company include Dr Sipa Yankey, Mr Kwame Peprah and Dr Ato Quarshie.

Dr Ato Quarshie who is a former Works and Housing Minister is said to have taken a cheque for £55,000 in 1995 whilst Health Minister Dr Sipa Yankey reportedly received a total of £10,500.

AFAG said President Mills should redeem his image by acting decisively in the Mabey & Johnson case.

“When the news broke in July 2009 that Mabey & Johnson were facing corruption and had indicated their willingness to plead guilty, though the president had fore knowledge that some of the ministers duly appointment by him had been mentioned as culprits in the case, the president still chose to keep mute,” Mr Kabo said.

He said when the group went on a demonstration recently, the president called on its members to rather pay attention to the Ghana@50 probe, asking whether the president was “following and monitoring the proceedings in the UK court.”
In response to the president’s request that thorough investigations be conducted into the issues, AFAG said it was superfluous to conduct any more investigations.

According to Joy News’ Bernard Saibu who was at the press briefing, the group argued that the issues were not just allegations but the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction in the UK.

AFAG contended that diligent investigations had been conducted into the matter and the officials Mabey & Johnson had pleaded guilty in the case, stressing the president had no excuse not to have taken action.

For the pressure group therefore, the Attorney-General’s visit to UK on the directive of the president to gather facts was a simple waste of public resources.

It noted the information the A-G went for could have been sourced using diplomatic contacts.

“The Attorney-General in her visit cannot question any institutionalized body in the United Kingdom, (because) she has no jurisdiction in that country to conduct investigations into corrupt practices,” Mr Akabo stated.

He therefore suggested even if the president needed more actionable information to make a decision, independent bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Serious Fraud Office of Ghana should rather have been charged to do that and not the A-G.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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