Ghana President accepts resignation of two ministers

President John Evans Atta-Mills has accepted the resignation of two Ministers of State, Dr. George Sipa Yankey, Minister of Health and Mr. Amadu Seidu, Minister of State at the Presidency, following the bribery allegations in the Mabey and Johnson case.

This follows lengthy closed door discussions held over the last two days with the Vice President, the Chief of Staff, Attorney-General and other close aides of the President.

According to a statement signed by Mr.John Henry Martey Newman, Chief of Staff, “the President has also decided to invite an independent body, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), to conduct investigations into those allegations of bribery against Ghanaian public officials in the said case.”

“The President expressed regret at the resignations and was hopeful that the decision to ask the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the case would offer a platform for the public officials named in the case to clear their names and hard won reputations.”the statement said. 

Ministers Pushed Out – Daily Guide 

Two of the ministers implicated in the Mabey & Johnson bribery saga did not exit office out of their own volition as Ghanaians were made to believe, but they were pushed out by President John Evans Atta Mills to save his government from further embarrassment in the face of allegations that the President benefited from the scandal.

The so-called resignation of Dr George Adjah-Sipa Yankey, Health Minister and Alhaji Amadu Seidu, Minister of State at the Presidency from the Government, flaunted in the countenance of Ghanaians to give the action a touch of honour, is part of a carefully designed manouvre to massage what is obviously a bad situation for the ruling party.

Other heads are expected roll in the days ahead as more revelations emerge of the bribery scandal that has rocked the government to its foundation.

Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, during a radio programme at the weekend, lent credence to the fact that the two ‘corrupt’ ministers were pushed out by the President.

According to Okudzeto, President Mills called the two ministers and told them to resign in order to mitigate the embarrassment.

Incidentally, all the named persons had shunned public comments until the President axe fell on Friday, dealing a fatal blow to their political careers.

Okudzeto said President Mills will meet other kingpins in the bribery scandal, particularly Baba Kamara, Ghana’s High Commissioner designate to Nigeria today for the next line of action, having been left out during the swearing in of Ambassadors last week.

Pressure is also mounting on Kwame Peprah, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) board chairman and former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, and Dr Ato Quarshie, former Minister of Roads and Highways who took the highest chunk of the nearly one million pound sterling bridge contract bribes.

Dr Ato Quarshie is chairing a committee set up by the Transport Minister, Mike Hammah, to probe the activities of the Metro Mass Transport.

Dr Adjah-Sipa Yankey took £15,000 as his share of the booty while Alhaji Amadu Seidu, had over £10,000, with Dr Quarshie collecting a whopping £55,000 in cash.

Upon arrival from her United Kingdom trip, primed with all the documents pertaining to the Crown Court’s judgment in the bribery scandal, including transcripts of witnesses, Ms. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, held a discussion with her boss, President Mills, during which she laid the cards on the table, the bottom-line of which was adverse.

Being the President’s Chief Legal Consultant, she reportedly explained the implications thereof and the various options, it has been learnt.

Even before her arrival, there have been intense activities which saw the ministers shuttling between their offices and that of the President, ostensibly to save the situation.

As the meetings went on, a major Public Relations campaign unfolded with pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) newspapers presenting Dr. Sipa Yankey as a very good man who had not taken a salary since taking up his appointment among other manouvres, raising questions about the morality of the former Health Minister.

It would be recalled that the President’s appointee for the position of High Commissioner to Nigeria, Alhaji Baba Kamara, was not sworn in when his colleagues lined up for the official ritual because of the Mabey & Johnson baggage.

Today, he is scheduled to meet Mr. President in a two-man discussion which would most likely centre on the Mabey & Johnson saga against the backdrop of the about-to-commence investigations.

Ms. Betty Mould-Iddrisu has expressed dismay at what she noted is the shielding of the British directors by the UK Serious Fraud Office and as it were “throwing our own to the wolves”.

She was quick, however, to add that the government does not intend to shield anybody implicated in the scandal.

Betty’s arrival from the UK where she had been dispatched by President Mills to seek the Crown Court judgment about the Mabey & Johnson saga and other relevant materials, presented the President with no option but to push the Ministers out.

In Jamaica where the Mabey & Johnson largesse was lapped, the affected public officials have already resigned.

With the curtains now drawn over this scene, Ghanaians are about to witness the commencement of another public hearing of a damning corrupt case as Justice Francis Emile Short’s Commission on Human Rig­hts and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) readies itself to investigate the saga.

Justice Short reportedly told the media earlier that he was awaiting the arrival of Ms. Betty Mould-Iddrisu from her UK trip.

Even before her arrival, he did state that CHRAJ was constitutionally mandated to probe cases of corruption without a complainant as in the case of human rights violations.

Perhaps therefore, the decision to go ahead with a CHRAJ probe presupposes that there are ample grounds to inform such an approach.

Observers think that such an approach would spill more beans about the deal which was hitherto unknown to the Ghanaian public.

Curious persons for instance want to know how the Ghana Development Fund which ostensibly depended on the proceeds of the Mabey & Johnson largesse, was managed and who are the signatures outside Baba Kamara.

Not all persons think Justice Emile Short’s CHRAJ can garner the necessary independence to do a good job of the investigations, having for instance had his appointment under the tenure of Jerry John Rawlings’ presidency.

 Not all whose names were mentioned have taken the honourable route as in the case of Mr. Kwame Peprah who heads a SSNIT board.

One of the resigned ministers, Dr. Sipa Yankey, has in a post-resignation statement denied any wrongdoing, explaining that he resigned to save Mills from further attacks.

His statement flies in the face, in view of the submission by Okudzeto.

Dr Yankey noted that for some time now, there have been consistent attacks on the President and his government and that he does not want these to distract them from their work.

He declared in the statement, “I have never taken a bribe.”

The Ghanaian officials mentioned in the bribery saga include Dr. Yankey, then a director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and Alhaji Amadu Seidu, who until his resignation was a Minister at the Presidency. He had served as a deputy Minister of Roads and Highways in the 1990s.

The rest are Dr. Ato Quarshie, then a minister of Roads and Highways who received the highest handshake, and Alhaji Abubakar Siddique Boniface, then a schedule officer at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

By A.R. Gomda