Monday, October 12, 2009 (Centre Spread)
THE Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, has described as “unwarranted and negative” assertions by her critics that her trip to the United Kingdom to gather relevant information on the Mabey & Johnson bribery case was a waste of national resources.
She said, “This type of negation does not go well for the continuous working of the rule of law.”
“My visit was extremely useful and enabled the President to take certain decisions in an informed manner in respect of the way forward on the Mabey & Johnson matter,” the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice emphasised.
Disagreeing with claims by the Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG), a political pressure group, that her trip would not yield any independent findings, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu told the Daily Graphic in an interview that such assertions were false.
According to her, the Attorney-General was a national competent authority and any dealings in international criminal matters between sovereign countries should go through competent national authorities.
She, therefore, stated that President John Evans Atta Mills did the most appropriate thing by directing her to travel to the UK to gather the relevant information on the bribery allegations.
Further justifying her trip to the UK from October 5 to October 7, 2009, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu stated that any agency from a different country seeking assistance on information under the mutual, “Legal Assistance Scheme can only do so through the respective national authorities”.
Touching on the referral of the matter to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Attorney-General said “as I understand it, the CHRAJ is looking into the allegations under the laws of Ghana alone”.
Asked the way forward following the resignations of the two ministers and the subsequent handling of the matter by the CHRAJ, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said, “I will continue to engage competent UK authorities and other relevant bodies until the final resolution of the matter.”
Mabey & Johnson, a construction firm, had claimed in a court in London that it had paid bribes to influence the award of contracts in Ghana in the early 1990s.
The Ghanaian officials mentioned in the alleged scandal include Dr George Yankey, the Minister of Health, who resigned last Friday. He was then a director at the Ministry of Finance.
The other mentioned officials are Alhaji Amadu Seidu, a Minister of State at the Castle, who was also a Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways in the 1990s. He also tendered in his resignation last Friday.
The rest are Dr Ato Quarshie, who was a Minister of Roads and Highways; Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Siddique, a Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing in the Kufuor administration who was a director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning at the time of the alleged scandal, and one Mr Edward Attipoe.
Following the allegations of bribery, President J.E.A. Mills directed Mrs Mould-Iddrisu to gather the relevant information from the UK authorities on the claim in a court in London by Mabey and Johnson that it had paid bribes to influence the award of contracts in Ghana in the early 1990s.