Former President, John Dramani Mahama has absolved himself of any underhand dealings in the infamous Airbus bribery scandal.
He says claims that he made some financial gains from the purchase of the two aircraft for the Ghana Armed Forces are complete untruths.
Mr. Mahama who remains proud over the purchase agreement maintains that the deal as he superintended over was rather to better the operations of the Armed Forces and not to make moves to serve his parochial interest as being suggested.
“Let me state without any equivocation that no financial benefit accrued to me neither was there any form of inducement in the purchase of the aircraft. My singular motivation was to equip and retool the Ghana Armed Forces in a manner that would make the discharge of their national and international roles efficient and less burdensome and for all the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make. They do not deserve less. I am happy that the said aircraft has become the backbone of the Ghana Air Force and its operations. They are used for troop transportation, logistics deployment, and medical evacuation,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic on Friday.
Speaking on the processes leading to the purchase of the aircraft, John Mahama noted that due diligence and negotiations were undertaken contrary to suggestions that his government sealed the deal through fraudulent means.
According to him, a plan to re-tool both the Armed Forces and Police Service had already been presented and approved by the then President, John Evans Atta-Mills.
He also disclosed in the Daily Graphic interview that the military was already in the process of acquiring two C27J aircraft before he became Vice President in 2009 although the quoted price, (above $40 million per unit) was said to be exorbitant.
“The military settled on two C295 aircraft at a cost of about $24 million each, bringing the cost of the two aircraft to about $48 million. All the processes and negotiations by the government in the acquisition of the aircraft were conducted directly with Airbus and my administration without any untoward influence either directly or indirectly through any agents it may have appointed. Indeed, nowhere in the available UK Court Documents has it been said that Airbus paid any public or government official on the side for the purchase of the aircraft. Some of our gallant and highly efficient officers who composed the technical team are still in active service in the military and I reject any idea that they have arrived at their decisions through inducement or coercion by any person,” he told Daily Graphic.
Response to corruption allegations
Highlighting why he has decided not to succumb to pressures to speak about the development, he admitted that, his silence was a result of the ongoing investigations being carried out by the Special Prosecutor.
“It is clearly and unambiguously stated in all the available documents of the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO). It has nothing to do with the government of Ghana or with any official of the government. To state otherwise is to misrepresent the conclusions of the SFO report and spread deliberate falsehood. I recognized that it was the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Special Prosecutor in Ghana, following the almost immediate referral to that body by the President”, he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mahama says he is yet to receive an invitation from the Office of the Special Prosecutor on the subject matter.
The presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has served notice that he will address “all the allegations of corruption made against me over the years, and I will also take on fully, Nana Akufo-Addo on his own record of corruption”.
NPP and NDC trade accusations
On January 31, Ghana was cited as one of five countries in which global aerospace group, Airbus SE, allegedly bribed or promised payments to senior officials in exchange for business favours between 2009 and 2015, according to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.
The scandal caused a political storm in Ghana over accusations of Airbus payments to a relative of a government official in connection with the purchase of military planes.
The governing New Patriotic Party, (NPP) alleged that the said government official 1 is former President John Dramani Mahama.
Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame challenged the former President who is also campaigning for re-election to exonerate himself from the scandal in the spirit of transparency and accountability.
But the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which was in power at the time, has denied the claims.