The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has said its investigations into bribery and conflict of interest allegations brought against President John Mahama in connection with his acceptance of a Ford Expedition gift does not only exonerate the president but also brings closure to the matter.
After close to four months of what CHRAJ describes as extensive investigations, the commission said President Mahama only violated the gift policy in the code of conduct for public officers.
It is recalled that the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), the Youth Wing of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and a private citizen petitioned CHRAJ to have Mr Mahama investigated for conflict of interest and bribery after he received the Ford SUV from Burkinabe contractor Djibril Kanazoe who was in turn awarded government contracts.
Speaking to Class News’ Emefa Apawu in an exclusive interview on Thursday September 29, acting Commissioner for CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal said the President’s conduct after receiving the gift exonerates him of any wrongdoing.
“…In this case when he was made aware, the President immediately told them: ‘Put it (Ford SUV) in the presidential pool,’ which we think was the right response that was expected. He had dealt with his conflict of interest immediately. He didn’t say take it to my house or give it to my wife or my brother; he said place it in the presidential pool and our investigations found that it was within four days of the entry of the vehicle into the country that it was placed in the presidential pool. What is the time [frame] with which he could have meddled with it? In any case, he was not even aware, he was on campaign, that is why we are of the firm conviction that his actions after getting to know of the gift being given completely exonerate him of any conflict of interest,” Mr Whittal stated.
Touching on whether the gift was a bribe, the acting CHRAJ boss said: “What is the secrecy in which the gift was made? What about the personal gain because there is an offence called acceptance of bribe by a public officer and if you read the report clearly, this is a gift that came through the embassy. It came through public officials, public officials handled everything through Paga border, immigration officials were aware of it, from there it came to the regional coordinating council, from there it went to the presidency, that is very transparent…now he (President Mahama) got the opportunity to know that there is a gift like that and he straightaway orders that: ‘Put the car in the presidential pool.’ Where is the personal gain? He has not taken advantage of the gift…”
Meanwhile, the PPP has expressed disappointment with CHRAJ’s report on the matter.