Ford Gift: CHRAJ Verdict 'Problematic' - Short

The decision by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to clear President John Mahama in the Ford Expedition gift controversy is “problematic,” former CHRAJ Commissioner Justice Emile Short has said.

CHRAJ has said not only did its investigation into allegations of bribery, fraud and conflict of interest brought against Mr Mahama in connection with the SUV gift 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 regime 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 after he received the Ford SUV from the contractor who was in turn awarded government contracts.

Reacting to the verdict on Friday 30 September, Mr Short said: “Well, I think the decision is problematic,” explaining that: “It poses more questions.”

“And one wonders what signal it’s sending to public officers especially the Minister of Roads and Highways, who has to deal with contractors in the course of official duties in awarding contracts.

I said so because the Commission established that the code of gift for public officers was violated by the president yet it went ahead to dismiss the petition without granting any of the releases,” Mr Short said in an interview with 3FM.

Mr Short’s sentiments echo with that of former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye who told Emefa Apawu on Class91.3FM’s 505 news programme on Thursday that although CHRAJ has exonerated Mr Mahama of wrongdoing as far as his acceptance of the SUV from Burkinabe contractor Djibril Kanazoe is concerned, there are more questions that need to be answered by the President.

“Definitely from what I see at the moment, there are more questions than answers and I don’t think we are anywhere nearing closure to such a controversial issue. …Was the President called? Was the President asked pertinent questions that he should answer? It is very important in this case how you really interrogate the issue. How did the President come to know this gentleman in the first place?

“The circumstances [under] which you come to know a person are very important. From what I heard about the initial evidence, the introduction was made by this Burkinabe to the then vice president for one single purpose.

The purpose was so that he could win contracts because he tried for so long but was not winning a contract. That was the purpose of the introduction. That purpose should be a matter for serious examination,” Prof Ocquaye said.