President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cleared the Trades Minister in what has become the cash for a presidential seat scandal.
The president says the information available to him on the $100,000 reserved-seat scandal does not support the claim of wrongdoing.
“The facts, as reported to the president, do not disclose any wrongdoing on the part of the Minister or any government official,” Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid said in a statement Thursday.
The government’s statement comes days after public outrage over claims that the Trades Ministry has extorted $100,000 from expatriates for a “presidential seat” at the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards (GEBA).
Deputy Trades Minister Carlos Ahenkorah has admitted some monies were taken from expatriates but said they were later transferred into the account of the awards organizers, Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF).
But MEF president Ashim Morton disputed that Wednesday, saying part of the funds has been kept at the Ministry to champion activities of GEBA.
He also said the use of “president” in the offer letter to the expatriates was in reference to him as MEF president and not president Akufo-Addo.
The Minority in Parliament has called for a bipartisan probe into the matter to unearth the real facts.
MEF president Ashim Morton
But the president has cleared the Trades Ministry of any wrongdoing after he was briefed on the matter Wednesday.
Trades Minister Alan Kyerematen has also said, “neither the presidency nor anyone close to the government was remotely connected to the event.”
In a statement explaining the matter, the Minister said president Akufo-Addo was only “invited as a special guest of honour.”
He also said the Trades Ministry only served as facilitators of the event in line with the government’s “public-private partnership.”
But Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mohammed has described the government’s statement as “complete cover-up” and unacceptable.
He told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story the scandal is not different from the sale of the 5million contaminated fuel at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) and corruption allegations levelled against the two Deputy Chiefs of Staff.
“I believe and the minority still believes that if a parliamentary probe goes ahead many things will be unearthed,” Mr Mohammed said.
But the president’s explanation for clearing the Trades Ministry of any wrongdoing amounts to an insult of the intelligence of Ghanaians, he said, adding the Minority will be able to prove that some people paid the $100,000.
North Tongu Member of Parliament (MP), Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said he will sue the deputy Trades Minister for assaulting him over the scandal.
The former deputy Education Minister said it will not serve the president’s image if the truth of the matter is not established through an independent probe.