In order to ascertain whether or not President John Mahama has brought the high office of president into disrepute by accepting the Ford Expedition car gifted him by Burkinabe contractor Djibril Kanazoe, who has been given a series of contracts by the Government of Ghana, Professor Mike Aaron Ocquaye, a former Member of Parliament for Dome Kwabenya constituency has urged Ghanaians to analyse the issue in its totality.
According to him, the laws of the country vehemently frown upon actions and inactions of public office holders, including the president, that are likely to conflict with the performance of their duties. Therefore, the situation at hand currently is a serious one that requires a holistic analysis.
President Mahama has been heavily criticised following his acceptance of the vehicle offered by Mr Kanazoe.
Mr Kanazoe, according to investigations by Joy FM’s Manasseh Azure Awuni, was given a series of contracts by the Government of Ghana, including a $650,000 deal to fence a tract of land around Ghana’s mission in Burkina Faso, after he had parted with a Ford Expedition to Ghana’s President.
The contract for the wall was reportedly described as “outrageous” by the Public Accounts Committee of parliament. The Burkinabé contractor also won a €25.9 million contract for the Dodo Pepeso-Nkwanta road.
This matter has generated heated debate among the Ghanaian public. Although the government admits Mr Mahama received the gift, the minister of communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah said the vehicle did not influence the awards of contracts to the Burkinabe contractor. But Minority Members of Parliament have hinted at impeaching the president over the matter. Minority spokesperson on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Joe Osei-Owusu, thought the gift was a bribe to influence the president to give out juicy deals to the said contractor, a situation he believed conflicted the president.
Speaking in an interview with Emefa Apawu on Class 91.3 FM’s 505 last week, Prof Mike Ocquaye, who is also a former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said: “We need to examine a number of things in this country. Article 59(1)(b) of our constitution says the president shall be removed from office if found among others to have conducted himself in a manner that brings or is likely to bring the office of the president into disrepute, ridicule or contempt.
“And this you can only determine by looking at the totality of the fact. This is what has led to the impeachment of presidents, for example in America. …So, when these things happen, let no one just play with the thing and throw dust into the eyes of the people of Ghana. You will have to seriously bring together all the facts, the totality of the fact in question and see whether having looked at it all it is such an act that is likely to bring the high office of the president of the republic into disrepute, into ridicule, or into contempt.
“And you will see that basically the code of conduct, which has been established under the constitution, what the CHRAJ has brought and all those ones, speak in a certain direction.
“Article 284 of our constitution says a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office.”
Prof Ocquaye added: “I like to remind people to look at the thing holistically. How did the two people come together, the contractor and the president? The contractor himself, in that interview, with a very clever move on the part of the journalist…said among the things that he was complaining about his not getting of contracts. He was desperately looking for contracts in Ghana then somebody said, ‘Let me take you to the president.’ So, the purpose of the meeting itself was to get contracts.”
He reiterated: “…Under what circumstances did the two come together? The man basically met our president by the introduction of another person because he was desperately looking for contracts in Ghana.”