The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, says the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, did not lie to the ad-hoc committee probing the botched Sputnik V vaccine deal about the money paid in advance by the state to Dubai-based Sheikh Al Maktoum for the supplies.
According to him, the minister in his testimony did not state emphatically that no payment had been made, but rather said to the best of his knowledge, he was not aware of any such payment.
The Minister has come under intense pressure after it emerged in the committee’s report that US$2,850,000 had already been advanced to Sheikh Al Maktoum despite public pronouncements by the Minister that no money had been paid by the government.
The Minority in parliament has since called for the dismissal of the Minister for various infractions in the deal, including his purported lie under oath that no money had been paid.
The minority further alleged that it had earlier been included in the report that the Minister lied to the committee, but they later realized that that portion was not in the final report.
But according to Suame legislator, the Health Minister did not make any such emphatic statement, hence cannot be said to have lied.
He explained that following the disagreement on what happened, he asked that it should be included in the report that some findings were found to be at variance with the testimony of the Minister, but upon further verification, he asked that that portion be removed.
“I called the Chairman [Afenyo-Markin] and Vice Chairman [Akandoh], and they both disagreed on what really happened at the committee level. I called the clerk of the committee, and she said she doesn’t really remember what exactly happened, but she will call for the recording. She did and came to inform me in the presence of the Chairman and Vice Chairman that indeed the minister did not make a categorical statement, and that the minister said ‘to the best of his knowledge no payment had been made.”
“Before then, I had told the secretary that if indeed the Minister made a categorical statement that no payment had been made, and they discovered that payment was made, then they should put that in the report that what the Minister had said was inconsistent with their [committee’s own finding. So they put that in the report.”
“But when the clerk came out with the admission that indeed the Minister did not make any such categorical statement, and that the statement was qualified that ‘to the best of his knowledge, no monies was paid’, in that case will you say the minister lied? Clearly no… [So] in the presence of the Chairman and Vice, the secretary took out that portion of the report,” he explained.
Besides the controversial aspect, the committee’s report tasked the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to take action to retrieve the over $2.8 million paid.
Meanwhile, the Chief Whip, Muhammed Muntaka Mubarak, has said that if the president does not heed the call to sack the Health Minister, his side will pass a vote of censure on the minister.
He said his caucus believes that he violated the 1992 constitution and his oath of office by trying to procure vaccines through middlemen without recourse to Parliament or cabinet.
“It is beyond any reasonable doubt the minister betrayed his oath of office and, for that matter, and he also failed to uphold the constitution and the laws of our country.”
“I must say that the Minister should be sanctioned. He must be removed by the president. He is not fit to occupy the office of a minister of state and must therefore be removed from office henceforth, failing which this House must pass a vote of censure on the minister.”