Anti-corruption crusader, Vitus Azeem, is calling for further investigations to unravel the truth in the claim by former President Jerry John Rawlings, that he received $2 million from the late Nigerian President, Sani Abacha.
The former president was accused in 1998 of allegedly taking $5 million from Sani Abacha, but refused to confirm or deny the claim.
Eighteen years down the line however, Mr. Rawlings has unusually opened up and admitted receiving the booty, but says the amount was $2 million instead of $5 million as alleged.
Speaking to Citi News on the development, Mr. Vitus Azeem said the gesture can constitute a corrupt act, if it was offered to the former president in return for a favour.
“If it is not easy to rush to a conclusion, you will need further questioning or even an investigation to able to establish whether it was a bribe or a matter of conflict of interest or what,” Vitus Azeem added.
Mr. Azeem thus suggested that a further probe will help establish whether the acceptance of the gift constitutes a conflict of interest or bribery.
“Nigerians and Ghanaians should be asking questions. The questions Nigerians should be asking includes, was it Sani Abacha’s private money that he sent to our former president? What was the purpose of giving that money? Were they expecting any benefit for the country Nigeria in sending that money?”
He added that “on the other side, we should also be asking: what did Nigeria want from Ghana that they needed to send that money to our president. Did our president ask for any financial help from Nigeria to undertake governmental projects or for his personal purpose? Again we have to ask what Sani Abacha wants from our president or from the country. Was the money being given in expectation of some kind of favour and was it given for the benefit of our president or for the benefit of our country? Was it given in response to an SOS request to deal with state matters in Ghana?”
Rawlings may have received Abacha’s $5m in full
A Ghanaian journalist, who was at the forefront of the reports back in 1998, William Nyarko, has punched holes into Mr. Rawlings’ sudden confession.
William Nyarko, who worked with The Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper at the time, argued that information he gathered then indicated that former president Rawlings may have received $5 million dollars.
According to Mr. Nyarko, he spoke to Guazo and “he [Guazo], insisted that he gave President Rawlings $5 million. It is interesting that the former President said he only received $2 million… We would still say that he alleged that he gave President Rawlings $5 million because you and I weren’t there.”
Go and sin no more
Former Member of Parliament for New Juabeng North, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, believes former President Jerry John Rawlings’ admission that he accepted $2 million from former Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha, after nearly 18 years of denial, should warrant forgiveness from Ghanaians.
“He has confessed it and I think we should be magnanimous enough to say let bygones be bygones, but I think from him, we should learn lessons that the President should desist from taking gifts from persons or money and everything like that,” he stated on Eyewitness News.