The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) yesterday held a press conference and wildly accused President John Dramani Mahama and his brother, Ibrahim Mahama, of attempting to bribe the Northern Regional Chairman of the NPP, Daniel Bugri Naabu. Mustapha Hamid, who addressed the media, said the intention was to get Bugri Naabu to turn against the NPP’s flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, portray him as a divisive ethnocentric bigot and destroy his chances of winning the 2016 elections.
“On Friday, the 28th of October 2016, our Northern Regional Chairman, Mr. Daniel Bugri Naabu, was invited to meet President John Dramani Mahama. The meeting was set up by his brother Ibrahim Mahama and a friend of his, Mohammed Awal. Ibrahim Mahama and Awal drove to the office of Bugri Naabu in Osu near the Osu Police Station, Accra shortly before 9pm. It was Alhaji Awal who walked to Bugri Naabu’s office. With Bugri Naabu were Majid Bawa and John Kwaku Alhassan (JK), who contested in the NPP parliamentary primaries in the Yunyoo constituency. Awal said that the President wanted to see Bugri Naabu and insisted it was important that Bugri meets with the President,” the NPP press statement said.
The NPP further alleged that Mr. Bugri Naabu was taken to a meeting in Ibrahim Mahama’s house, where President Mahama, Ibrahim Mahama, and one Awal Mohammed met Bugri Naabu. The press statement said:
“As the President was talking, Ibrahim got up to signal and a man walked into the room with a bag behind his back. He dropped it in front of Bugri and left. Ibrahim opened it and it was full of Fifty Ghana Cedis notes. Bugri asked what that was about. Ibrahim said there was GH¢500,000 in it. The deal was that they were prepared to give him more.
“Bugri said to them that, he was surprised. Why now? The government had sat on Bugri’s money as a contractor for years. Bugri was still owed GH¢247,000 for a feeder road contract and the certificate had been ready since 2013, when he was not even Regional Chairman but they refused to pay because he is NPP.
This was the full details of the deal they offered Bugri that night:
(1) Brand new V8 Toyota Land Cruiser
(2) Brand new V6 Mitsubishi Pajero
(3) Brand new Nissan Pick-up
(4) GH¢3.3 million, including the contract sum owed to Bugri and minus the GH¢500,000.
(5) Plus a new road contract
“Ibrahim said they were prepared to give Bugri a road contract worth GH¢190 million. There and then, they offered Bugri work on a road that he had already worked on years ago under the NPP, the Osenase-Apenamang Road. The President directed Bugri to see the Director of the Department of Feeder Roads, Mr Francis Digber. When, Bugri was leaving, Ibrahim asked him to give GH¢50,000 of the GH¢500,000 to Alhaji Awal, promising to reimburse him later.”
The press statement continued: “The very next day, Bugri managed to locate the one Prudential Bank that he knew would be open on a Saturday and put the money in. That is, the Abossey Okai Branch. He deposited it in his account number 0090985590013, which account holding branch is Ring Road Central. Bugri immediately reported the full details of the meeting to the Flag bearer, who was out of town campaigning, but through a trusted aide who is also a senior member of the NPP campaign. A few days later, to show good faith, Ibrahim Mahama joined a high-powered NDC delegation, led by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Kenneth Wujangi, with Minister of State, Dr. Mustapha Ahmed and Ghana’s Ambassador to Angola Moses Bukari Mabengba, to he funeral of Bugri Naabu’s daughter. Ibrahim Mahama generously donated GH¢20,000 at the funeral, and the President GH¢10,000.
“True to their word, the first of the three vehicles was ready and Bugri sent one of his boys to pick it up. According to the Customs Classification and Valuation Report, the vehicle was imported into Ghana by Malin Investment Ltd in August this year and the duty paid on it was GH¢40,274.70.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the media, I have given you enough names and enough details to support the case that the President and his brother have approached Bugri and offered him cash, a contract and vehicles and in return, for him to create divisions in the NPP and tell lies about the flagbearer and paint him as an ethnic bigot who hates northerners.
“But, I know there are some who may still doubt me. Well, let me give you just one more piece of the evidence. The company that imported the vehicle and transferred it to Bugri, Malin Investment is owned by a Hawah Hayisi Aryee Mahama and Frank Nuhu Alormasor, a Personal Assistant to the President. I leave it to you to find out who Hawah Mahama is.”
The director of the President Mahama’s campaign, Mr. Kofi Adams denied the allegation on Joy FM yesterday. He, however, admitted he hadn’t spoken to the president on the matter before denying the claim.
It is not clear who Hawah Hayisi Aryee Mahama is and her relationship with President Mahama. But Frank Nuhu Alormasor is well known. He is a special aid to President Mahama. He is the best person to exonerate the President.
Bribes are not given with receipts and documentation. But in this case, the vehicle has a paper trail. The vehicle was owned by a company before it was transferred to Bugri Naabu. One of the two directors of that company is the President’s special aid, Frank Nuhu Alormasor. At this point, the burden of proof is not on the NPP. It is on Mr. Alormasor.
He should tell us the circumstances under which the ownership of the vehicle was transferred from Malin Investment Limited to Daniel Bugri Naabu. The letter which was written to the DVLA authorizing the transfer of the ownership stated that the vehicle had been sold. How much was it sold to Bugri Naabu? How did he pay? Cash? Cheque? And why should a construction company buy a car in 2016 and sell it a month or two afterward? Is that part of the company’s business? What necessitated the selling of this car if it was an isolated case? How did Bugri Naabu know about the deal? Or are all the documents accompanying the vehicle fake? If so, he should prove it? Or was the vehicle a gift to Bugri Naabu and not a bribe?
It is possible the NPP can make wild and baseless allegations in these last days. For the meeting and the cash, it will be their word against that of the Mahamas. But to the extent that there is a paper trail on that suggests a link between the vehicle and people close to the President, it will be necessary that the President, his brother and his aid come clean on this. The president is the commanding officer of the battalion that is supposed to fight and defeat corruption in the country. Allegations of acts of corruption against him are and should be taken seriously.
If it is not true, we will want to know. They may also consider suing Bugri Naabu and the NPP if this is a case of unfounded fabrication. This is not one of the senseless political utterances that should not deserve a response. I called Frank Nuhu Alormasor twice yesterday. The call went through but he did not pick up. Some of my colleagues have also tried sources close to Ibrahim Mahama and the President to get their responses but all of them have declined comment. But we should get to the bottom of this serious matter. If the NPP are lying, it is important to expose them.
For now, NPP’s wild allegations backed by the documentation accompanying the vehicle sound more believable than those who are denying without speaking to the parties accused. Three years ago, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, denied that President Mahama had no relationship with gay writer Andrew Solomon before the launch of his book. He later came back to apologise because there was evidence of friendship between the two.
When I was doing the story on the Ford Gift saga involving President Mahama, I spoke to the President’s advisor on governance, Daniel Batidam. I asked what advice he would give the president on whether or not to accept a high-value gift from a contractor who did business with the government. This was because the President’s code of conduct for his ministers and public officers prohibited the acceptance of gifts of any value from a business entity.
“Well, I’m sure you know that these are not situations that would occur in reality in terms of the kind of president we have,” Mr. Batidam said.
“It’s a hypothetical situation,” I told him.
“I think it’s obvious,” Mr. Batidam said. “It’s obvious that any leader, any president: not even a president, a minister; a responsible public servant would know that that situation could put him in a situation of not only conflict of interest but potentially being corrupted.
“And so I think it goes without saying that you cannot take gifts from sources that have the potential of influencing your decision making. It’s not acceptable. I think a responsible leader, minister [or] senior public servant would not need to be advised on that.”
The day the story was published, the President admitted taking the Ford Expedition Vehicle as a gift from the Burkinabe contractor, Djibril Kanazoe. He explained that the vehicle was added to the pool of vehicles at the Flagstaff House.
With the past as a guide us, it is difficult to trust anybody who denies allegations made against another person without first speaking to them. President Mahama, Ibrahim Mahama and Frank Nuhu Alormasor ought to respond.
The party foot soldiers and loyal sympathisers who think with their hearts will believe the denials from Kofi Adams and Koko Anyidoho without interrogating the facts contained in the documents. But there are people in this country who think and reason with their heads. They need to be convinced, if they are to believe the denials.
The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a senior broadcast journalist with Joy 99.7 FM. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are his personal opinions and do not reflect, in any form or shape, those of The Multimedia Group, where he works.