…How Diplomats Used Celebrated Half-baked Journalist In Political Hatchet Job
Insiders in the Foreign Service, have given some detailed account with names of those who hatched, cooked and served the alleged Ford Expedition car bribery story against President John Dramani Mahama to Joy FM’s Manasseh Azure Awuni.
Sources at the Burkina Faso and the elements close to the former Ghana’s ambassador, Chief Bawumia, have mentioned three loyal disciples of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as those who schemed the story and sent it to the radio station to establish a claim of corruption against President Mahama.
The names given so far are;Maxwell Nyarko Lartey, Marcel Domeyele and Jones K. Boakye. The three were all recruited under the NPP as Foreign Service Officers.
They at various times, had something to do with the receipt of the car and its eventual delivery to the Flagstaff House to be part of the Presidential fleet since 2012.
Two letters have so far emerged from Ghana’s Mission in Burkina Faso on the Ford Expedition gift, suggesting a calculated plot to fix President Mahama, in the process the politically-charged diplomats and the investigative journalist, out of inexperience, ignored the point that the trajectory of the Ford Car, has been exceedingly documented, therefore, claims of bribery were farfetched.
Indeed, the car was captured by Ghana’s Embassy in Burkina Faso with supporting documents showing it was on its way to the Ghana. It was also captured by both Ghana and Burkinabe Customs officers through the necessary documentation.
The car was subsequently driven and presented to the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council by Ambassador Chief Bawumia himself,through Mark Owen Woyongo,for onward presentation to the Flagstaff House.
This means that, apart from the various documents, the Ford Expedition car, had come into contact with many individuals, who had no doubts about its final destination; the Flagstaff House.
Indeed, it has been argued that, Djibril Kanazoe, the Burkina Faso contractor, could have bought the car in Ghana from Mechanical Lloyd Co. Ltd, and driven it to the private home of President Mahama or a secret location agreed with the president and left the keys behind, if the two men wanted to hide something from the people of Ghana.
The presidency is a security zone, therefore, not unusual to have cars which are not registered or documented at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). The absence of the Ford Expedition car from the files of DVLA,clearly confirms the car, has not been registered in a private individual’s name.
Yet another intriguing aspect of this story is that, although the Joy FM reporter, Manasseh Azure Awuni, sought clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Ministry of Communications and the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL); an agency under the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing their responses were not captured in his news item.
At the time, Maxwell Nyarko Lartey, was the Head of Chancery/Administration. He’s the one Joy FM is referring to as the one who signed the ‘Laissez Passer’.
What is instructive about Maxwell to this whole issue is that, the Laissez Passer joy fm is referring to as what was used to allow easy passage at the border, is not what is in the file at the Embassy.
The one joy fm is using, has only Maxwell’s signature without the Embassy’s stamp. That Laissez Passer (LP), has no stamp because, when Maxwell was tasked by the Ambassador to draft the LP, he brought what Joy fm read and the Ambassador disagreed with him and directed him to shred it. He prepared a more acceptable one for the Ambassador and apparently refused to shred the one Joy fm is reading today.
His NPP colleagues, used to refer to him as the ‘smooth operator’. Those guys practiced open partisan politics and usually when they meet, they’ll say control, control, who’s in control?”
Maxwell is currently an Aide to the Secretary to the President on secondment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Marcel, had disciplinary issues and was recalled to Accra and he vowed never to forgive the Ambassador and this government.
Jones was the Accountant, who provided the supporting documents regarding the ones relating to the cost of the wall project.
But in all these, Maxwell, was the resident coordinator of all the mischief and now has sanctuary at the Office of the President.
Meanwhile, The Gazette Newspaper says it has intercepted two different versions of the purported Laissez Passer from the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso produced by JOY FM’s Manasseh Awuni Azure, linking the controversial Ford Expedition gift from Burkina Faso to President Mahama as a bribe.
Both letters requesting free passage of the vehicle into Ghana, have similar dates October 29, 2012, but had different tones and different description of Djibril Kanazoe, the Burkina Faso contractor that Joy FM has alleged bribed President Mahama.
Both letters were signed by Maxwell Nyarko-Lartey, the Head of Chancery at the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso, but it is unclear the reasons for the existence of different version of the same letter.
Manasseh, has been accused of peddling a fake letter, particularly since the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso, have indicated that those letters did not contain the official seal of the Embassy.
Reports gathered indicates that,Alhaji Bawumia (a senior brother of the running-mate of the opposition NPP, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia) who oversaw the transaction of the Ford Expedition, was reportedly unhappy with the tone of the laissez passé letter drafted by Mr. Nyarko-Lartey.
According to information picked up by this paper, Alhaji Bawumia, did not like the tone of the letter, when he read it, so he directed the Head of Chancery to rewrite the letter and affix the seal of the Embassy on the letter. The head of Chancery is said to have re-written the letter, but failed to destroy the initial draft, one of which Manasseh intercepted and used as his basis to claim the Ford Expedition was meant as a personal gift to President Mahama.
According to the Joy FM report that has generated considerable public interest, Djibril Kanazoe of Kanazoe Freres Company Ltd. Was in 2012 encouraged to bid for juicy road contracts and a $650,000 Ghana Embassy Fence Wall project in Burkina Faso after he had given President Mahama a US$ 100,000 Ford Expedition vehicle as a bribe.
But President Mahama has denied this allegation saying, he had always had the impression that the vehicle was meant for the state. Besides, the President revealed his preference for Japanese cars rather than American car’s, “I don’t use Fords. I don’t like American cars. I use Japanese cars.
Toyota is my car,” adding that the allegation of him being compromised with the Ford Expedition gift was baseless.
On October 29, 2012, the controversial car was sent to the Ghanaian Embassy to be sent to the Presidency as a token of appreciation for gestures shown by President Mahama during the funeral of Djibril Kanazoe- the Burkinabe Road contractor who is being accused of bribing the President to get juicy government contracts-.
Joy FM had deliberately ignored facts that the contract for the wall was duly audited and found not to have had any issues.
In October, 2013, an Audit team audited the Embassy, looking through at all the documentation on the contract. They also went to inspect the project and found no issue with the contract and raised no query whatsoever on the project.
While, gathering materials for the report, Joy FM’s Manasseh sent questionnaires to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hannah Tetteh, and in her response she stated that there was no query from the Auditor- General on that contract. But Joy refused to reflect this response in the report.
Joy FM also sent a questionnaire to AESL-the consultants of the fence wall project-. AESL responded to Joy FM denying that the Auditor General had ever queried the project. Again JOY Fm refused to incorporate that in their report.
The then Ghanaian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Chief Bawumia, is said to have had some issued with two unnamed staff of the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso. These aggrieved staff, are said to have fabricated the story and called Manasseh to do the hatchet job.
There are speculations that the NPP,may have contracted Manasseh to accept to do the hatchet job, knowing the political capital they may gain from such a scandal.