General News Tue, 14 Jul 2020

Vote buying: Deputy MASLOC CEO trying to save face with denial – Corruption Watch

Corruption Watch, initiators of a report on vote-buying by aspirants in the recently held New Patriotic Party primaries, has parried claims of misrepresentation by the Deputy CEO of MASLOC, Hajia Abibata Shanni Mahama Zakaria.

Hajia Zakaria and other prominent persons like the Deputy Procurement Officer at COCOBOD, Alhaji Umar Farouk Aliu Mahama, incumbent Member of Parliament for Kwesimintim Constituency, Joseph Mensah, among others were cited for allegedly influencing delegates with cash and other inducements.

According to the Corruption Watch report, Hajia Abibata Shani Mahama Zakaria allegedly took advantage of her office, using the State agency’s resources to induce delegates in the Yendi Constituency with cash.

The report further noted that, Hajia Abibata Zakaria distributed GHS1,000 of state money under the MASLOC loans to each delegate in her constituency.

She is also alleged to have distributed three bags of NPK fertilizers to each of the delegates in Yendi.

After the report was published Hajia Zakaria said the claims in the reported were false.

In a two-page rejoinder copied to GhanaWeb, Hajia Zakaria indicated that Corruption Watch report was not factual, and questioned why the reporters used the caveat ‘allegedly’.

She also indicated that the term ‘buying’ connotes the presence of offer and acceptance and ‘inducements’ would imply persuasion.

Hajia Abibata Zakaria further stressed that there was no vote-buying on her part and it is false for an organization with a huge stature and capacity such as the CDD to state that MASLOC money was used to induce NPP delegates during the primaries.

But in a sharp rebuttal to the Deputy MASLOC CEO’s comment, Corruption Watch told GhanaWeb on Wednesday, July 14, 2020, that its investigators adhered to the highest journalistic standards in compiling the report.

Technical Advisor to the Corruption Watch initiative, William Nyarko, said Hajia Zakaria’s denial of the findings is mostly a face-saving reaction.

“This reaction is an afterthought… after she realised the enormity of her actions,” he said.

He explained that the Corruption Watch project, which is led by the governance think tank, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), will not seek to publish falsehoods about any public servant.

Mr Nyarko explained that Corruption Watch investigators contacted the Deputy CEO for her response after its findings, in accordance with the journalistic standard of balance.

According to Mr Nyarko, Hajia Zakaria allegedly admitted to the findings but insisted there was nothing wrong with her action.

In the two-page reaction to the findings, Hajia Zacharia also questioned why the Corruption Watch report used the caveat ‘allegedly’ throughout its findings.

“If the reporters were truly confident in their ‘findings’, why did they find the need to use the caveat ‘allegedly’? You make a categorical statement in your headline that votes were bought and yet in your opening paragraph, you introduce alleged inducement,” parts of her statement read.

But Mr Nyarko said this defence is a clear indication that the Deputy MASLOC CEO does not understand how true investigative journalism works.

“She misconstrues the fact that we used the word allegedly as meaning that we are not sure…but it does not mean that we are not sure. It is only the courts that can make a definite determination of wrongdoing. The public has seen the video and heard her,” Mr Nyarko said.

William Nyarko, who is also Executive Director of Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), said Corruption Watch is considering petitioning the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the findings pertaining to Hajia Zakaria and the others captured in the report.

“This is one of the things that is in consideration. In her case, she is in a very precarious situation because she is a public officer,” he said.

Corruption Watch is led by CDD-Ghana in collaboration with ACILA, Joy FM Super Morning Show, Ghana Integrity Initiative and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition.
Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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