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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Prez Mills never forced out resigned ministers - Ayariga

Presidential spokesperson Mahama Ayariga
Presidential spokesperson Mahama Ayariga

The presidential spokesperson Mahama Ayariga has stressed that two ministers who resigned their posts following the fallout of the Mabey and Johnson ruling in London last month did so on their own volition.

Health Minister Dr Sipa Yankey, who was a director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and Alhaji Seidu Amadu, who was a Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways at the time of the alleged bribery, have resigned their positions pending the outcome of an investigation by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) into the matter.

Since news broke of the resignation of the two and the President's subsequent acceptance, speculations have been rife that the two ministers were impressed upon by the President to opt out of their positions as happened in the case of former Sports Minister Muntaka Mubarak.

A Deputy Information Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, speaking on Joy FM's news analysis programme, Newsfile, also stated that the President, indeed, asked the two minister to resign.

"Your side has not been heard, it is true. We cannot say that we have exhausted all the avenues under natural justice rules, however I am a President who said that I will raise the bar when it comes to matters of accountability and transparency and so I will advise you to tender in your resignation," Mr Ablakwa quoted the President as saying.

He said the two ministers subsequently tendered in their resignations and "he [the president] accepted the final resignation."

But speaking to Joy News' Dzifa Bampoe, Mr Ayariga said the two ministers did not tender in their resignation under any duress from the President as was being suggested.

He said President Mills had engaged in “extensive consultations” with those who were mentioned in the bribery scandal but did not show any of them the exit.

“Those ministers…then offered to resign and the President did not object to their offer to resign,” he said.

Dr Sipa Yankey has told the media he tendered in his resignation from his ministerial duties to enable him time and space to prove his innocence in the matter.

“I have never taken bribe in my life, and I am well prepared to prove that this allegation is false and preposterous,” the former Health Minister told the Daily Graphic on Saturday.

Mr Ayariga insisted that the resignation of the ministers would also “avoid the situation where people would use their continuous stay in office as an opportunity to launch unnecessary attacks on the personality of the president."

The presidential spokesperson also responded to whether Alhaji Saddique Boniface, who is a member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), would be dragged before CHRAJ for questioning.

Mr Ayariga said: “Looking at the terms of reference....,and the judgement of the British court, I will presume that the commission will consider and determine the question of whether or not Boniface falls within the category of those who they should investigate.”

He would also not confirm who would fill the position of Dr Yankey as Health Minister, stressing, the President has the prerogative to appoint a replacement “and he would do so as soon as he sorts outs who he wants to go there."

On how President Mills feels about the fallout of the case, Mr Ayariga said “the president feels vindicated that the men and women who he has appointed to various portfolios are persons of high integrity and honour.”

“We respect their courage and commitment to the government and the principles and values we have set for ourselves.”

Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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