Top officers of the Ministry of National Security have intervened to stop the leadership and members of the “Fixing the Country Movement” from going ahead with their planned picketing exercise at the office of former President John Mahama, in Labone, over their demand for more action by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) on the Airbus scandal
The National Security Ministry, according to reliable sources, saw the planned picketing as setting a dangerous precedent for protests being organized at private offices of individuals even if they are seeking public office.
The National Security Ministry, to this end, met with the leader of “Fixing the Country Movement,” Mr Ernest Owusu Bempah, and other members of the movement and impressed upon them not to carry out the exercise.
“Following extensive engagements between the Ministry of National Security and the leadership of the “Fixing the Country Movement,” ahead of their planned demonstration on 23 November 2023, it has been agreed that the said demonstration be called off over threats it poses to the security of the State”, a source at the Ministry of National Security said.
“Consequently, the general public is directed to desist from convening for the purposes of staging any such demonstration. Law enforcement officials shall be deployed to designated routes on the scheduled day of the demonstration to ensure strict adherence to the directive” the source further disclosed.
Leaders of the Fixing the Country Movement notified the Ghana Police Service of their intention to exercise their constitutional rights under Article 21(1)(d) and (f) of the 1992 Constitution to picket at the office of former President John Mahama on 16 October 2023. The group subsequently rescheduled the event to Thursday, 16 November 2023, and again to Thursday, 23 November 2023.
According to the convener, the planned protest was intended to reflect the group’s antipathy towards the laid-back attitude of authorities investigating the Airbus corruption saga. That, Mr Mahama has a lot of questions to answer, and the scandal cannot be swept under the carpet. Additionally, the movement avers that it believes in public accountability and wants to reiterate the point that no one is above accountability.
The office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) in July 2023, indicated ongoing investigations into the alleged bribery by Airbus SE, a European multinational aerospace corporation, regarding the sale and purchase of military aircraft for the Republic of Ghana, during the administration of former President John Dramani Mahama.
The OSP, per its mandate, investigates corruption and corruption-related offences committed by both public and private sector workers. The office commenced its investigations into what has come to be known as the “Airbus Bribery Scandal,” after it concluded that there are corruption and corruption-related allegations against Ghanaian officials.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor, according to Kissi Agyebeng, Special Prosecutor, is collaborating with INTERPOL and key authorities of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, under the mutual legal assistance regime, towards securing an international warrant for the arrest of some officials including the brother of former President Mahama.
Four British nationals including Mr. Mahama’s brother were said to be wanted by Ghanaian authorities for questioning for their roles in the alleged bribery of Ghanaian officials in the purchase of the aircraft.
In a half-year report published on July 4, 2023, the OSP disclosed that Airbus is alleged to have paid bribes in Ghana during the sale of three military aircraft. The company admitted hiring the brother of a top elected Ghanaian official, as its consultant for the pitch to sell the aircraft to Ghana.
The investigation became public after a 2019 settlement was reached between Airbus SE and authorities in the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.
As part of the settlement, Airbus agreed to pay a record $4 billion fine to resolve allegations of bribery and corruption in multiple countries, including Ghana. It was alleged that Airbus SE paid bribes to various individuals in Ghana in exchange for securing contracts related to the sale and purchase of military aircraft. These alleged bribes were said to have been paid between 2009 and 2015.