Anti-graft body Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) says President John Mahama may have to return a controversial gift he received from a contractor because it breaches the state’s anti-corruption code.
GII Executive Director Linda Ofori Kwafo explained that according to the guidelines of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the President has two options available to him.
Either he gives out the 2010 Ford Expedition he received or pays the market value of the luxury vehicle, she explained on Joy FM Super Morning Show Monday.
A Joy News’ investigation by Manasseh Azure Awuni revealed a Burkinabe contractor in 2012, gave a gift worth $100,000 to the President after he had won contracts.
The revelations have put government’s fight against corruption under a cloud and president’s Mahama’s image is under scrutiny as the President’s acceptance of the gift raises conflict of interest questions.
Ghana Integrity Initiative is emphatic that the acceptance is a clear case of conflict of interest. She explained that conflict of interest may be potential, apparent or actual.
President John Mahama has put himself in two of these scenarios – potential and apparent, she said.
Linda Ofori stated that President John Mahama who launched a code of ethics for government officials in 2013, is fully abreast with issues of gift-taking, conflict of interest and corruption.
“Mahama knows what gift to accept and not to accept” she explained.
Linda condemned attempts by government spokepersons and sympathizers to rationalize the action of the president. Despite the clear guidelines, government has explained president John Mahama donated the car to government. It is now part of the president’s fleet of cars, a statement has explained.
But Linda says anti-graft campaigners “get very worried when public officials try to explain it depending on who we are talking about”.
There are also calls for President’s anti-corruption advisor, Daniel Batidam to resign after he vouched for the president’s integrity saying he would never accept a gift valued at $100,000. But it turned out the president did collect the gift.
Linda Ofori says she wouldn’t advise the anti-corruption advisor to resign because he plays an important function in explaining anti-graft policies to the public.
Vouching for a person’s credibility when it comes to corruption is dangerous she suggested pointing out that “ you don’t know until you find yourself in a position”.