President: I Will Prosecute Ex-Ministers
President John Evans Atta Mills has warned that his government is getting ready to prosecute former officials who served under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration and that the operation will commence as soon as investigations into their perceived corrupt deals are concluded. Furthermore, he officially justified the latest craze for snatching of vehicles from officials of the Kufuor-led Administration and warned that the operation would continue whether or not the former government officials were in favour of it.
“We are not hesitating about prosecuting them but when you use the word prosecute, you are obviously referring to the legal process and when you go to court, there is a presumption that anybody brought before court is innocent until proven guilty. That means that you must do your home work well and get all the facts and figures before you go to court. “We do not want a situation where you go to court and your cases are thrown out. We owe it to the people of Ghana to ensure that those who have broken the law are made to face the full rigors of the law,” noted the President in an interview with ace broadcast journalist, Alex Jakana of the BBC.
Though President Mills is a direct beneficiary of a government policy that allows the administrative class to purchase their official government vehicles which are two years and over, he warned that there need not be a rule about retrieving vehicles from past government officials. “There does not have to be a rule. You are in government and you are given property and vehicles to enable you do your work. Once you leave government it stands to reason that the property be returned. So if you are using it, are you using it for government purposes or for private purposes?
“I am surprised that the person is talking about the rampant seizure of property. Whose property are we talking about? Is it property that belongs to the people or property that belongs to the state? If there is any property that belongs to the state, anyone in possession of this property must hand it over to the state. Our problem as a nation is that we do not have any inventory of our assets and therefore, in one or two cases, there have been some uncertainty about ownership but I can assure you that whatever belongs to the government would be retrieved whether the people in possession like it or not,” he told the BBC.
The warning comes from President Mills weeks after his office had sent an official apology to the flag-bearer of the NPP for the 2008 elections, Nana Akufo-Addo, after security officials from the seat of government forcefully snatched his private vehicle on allegations that the said vehicle belonged to the state. Though it later turned out that the claim was false, another batch of Castle operatives snatched yet another private car of Nana Addo and many more of other NPP faithful, as well as private individuals. Speaking to Joy fm, Presidential Spokesperson Mahama Ayariga, confirmed media reports that the President and his controversial entourage were lodged in a plush hotel in the UK, but added that the British government would foot a larger chunk of the bill. His claim was in apparent response to a publication by the Statesman newspaper which reported that though the government said the President had a 25-member entourage, the paper’s investigations showed that his entire entourage was over 40 and the cost of the trip conservatively estimated stood at £160,000.00 (US$233,000.00).
According to the paper, 25 members of the team, including the President, are staying at the plush Royal Garden Hotel, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, London and that the first couple is chilling in the profligately luxurious £1,380.00 per night Royal Suite, with a violet and gold Tudor bed. Daily Guide’s checks from sources in the UK have revealed that it is completely untrue that the President has a team of 25 members and that indeed, the actual number stands at 47. The UK sources noted that the team arrived in London in three groups and that the first one had 15 members, the second had 12 members and the final team had 20 members.