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General News
We Will Jail NPP With Same Law 2/7/2007
A cross section of Members of Parliament from the opposition National Democratic Congress say the law on causing financial loss to the State, which was passed under the NDC, but never once applied, is good in principle and must therefore be allowed to stay in the statute books of Ghana.

They promise to actively use the law to prosecute officials of the current government, citing at least eleven such cases that they allege should be prosecuted. The MPs, who spoke with The Statesman in separate interviews, accused the ruling New Patriotic Party of selectively applying the law in a partisan manner.

Promising vengeance, the Minority members, who boycotted parliamentary proceedings yesterday in apparent solidarity with their jailed colleague, Dan Abodapki (Keta MP), gave notice that they are so many cases they are preparing to prosecute against NPP officials, should the NDC win the 2008 presidential elections and appoint the next Attorney-General.

Some of the cases cited by the NDC at Tuesday''s news conference were an "alleged colossal loss of about $35 million to the state” on the acquisition of a strategic reserve plant by the VRA in 2002; the “cost incurred in pursuing the IFC and CNTCI loans,” that were later abandoned by the President Kufuor government; the Energy Commission''s “lease agreement for HQ building involving ¢7.5 billion;” the “Unimax Macmillan contract involving $27 million,” and management consultancy contract to Telenor, leading to huge losses to Ghana Telecom.”

Speaking exclusively to The Statesman after his party’s news conference on Dan Abodakpi’s 10-year conviction, A S K Bagbin, the Minority Leader, dismissed calls for Section 179(a)(3) of the Criminal Code (Act 30) to be repealed.

In his view, the law of willfully causing financial loss to the state is, in principle, useful to the fight against corruption. His difficulty, however, was how the law was being interpreted and applied by the courts.

“I think it’s a good piece of legislation in the fight against corruption but the interpretation that has been put on it by the judges is completely erroneous. I’m sure that in the near future that position will be reviewed,” he told our reporter.

But, with his party coming up with its own list of “few allegations crying for investigation by NPP administration,” and the vengeance messages coming from his own party leadership, including the founder, Mr Bagbin, who is MP for Nadowli, said any prospect of vengeance would depend on “the democratic culture” of the party in power.

“Multi-party democracy is about consensual governance, getting everybody on board and so it depends on the type of government,” he added, excluding the NPP from the kind of consensus government he had in mind.

Lee Ocran, Jomoro MP, also agreed to the intention of the law being good. He described it as a double-edged sword which could be used well or misused depending on which party is in government.

According to him, the law is being misused by the incumbent government. He, however, with some contradictions, gave a clear hint of the underlining vindictiveness that awaits the NPP in opposition.

“It is a very bad law but it should stay since other people are using it so that another group can come and also use it,”he told The Statesman.

Mohammed Sorogho, member for Abokobi-Madina, shared the view of his colleagues in allowing the law to operate. But his reasoning seemed based on the fact that the NDC would also have a future opportunity to apply the law.

Another concurring voice was Collins Dauda, member for Asutifi South. He argued that the NDC was not against the law but the selective manner in which it was allegedly being applied under the NPP. He said, with a naughty smile, that the law should be allowed to stay put on the statute books.

Mustapha Ahmed, East Ayawaso MP, however, like Mr Bagbin, sounded moderate in his views, arguing that there were not enough measures to safeguard the abuse of the law. The import of the law, he explained, was to ensure prudent use of scarce national resources.

According to him, the law calls for an urgent review because, as he claimed, its application rests on the discretion of the government of the day, making it vulnerable to misuse as a political tool against opponents. He told this paper that he would prefer the law to be reviewed to ensure equity and fairness in its application than to allow it to remain to be misapplied for political vengeance.

Earlier, the NDC at yesterday’s press conference described the conviction of the Keta MP as politically motivated and has directed their MPs to boycott parliament in solidarity with their colleague, whom the party described as “the latest victim” of the agenda of using “political trials to jail the party’s leading members and functionaries.”

“Unfortunately, when we have a government that is intent on prosecuting the opposition into oblivion, while it closes its eyes to blatant act of corruption and financial loss occurring in its own administration, the platform cannot exist for achieving national cohesion and reconciliation that we all crave.”

While calling for a break in “this cycle of vengeance,” the NDC, nevertheless, issued this note of caution yesterday: “We just hope that those currently administering this measure of justice must remember that the same measure with which they judge their political opponents today, might be the same measure by which they are judged in the future.”

The Minority members, who begun a boycott yesterday, are not expected to return to the House for President Kufuor’s state of the nation address tomorrow.

The Statesman

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