Members of the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament engaged in a heated debate last Friday after the NPP MP for Assin South, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour, had made a statement on the Airbus SE bribery scandal involving some Ghanaian government officials.
The Assin South MP had detailed the circumstances leading to the purchase of three C-295 military transport aircraft by the NDC government under Prof. John Atta Mills, which he said smacked of cost inflation and bribery and, therefore, called on Parliament to also do an independent investigation into that matter.
“Mr. Speaker, the rather disturbing revelations contained in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement and Statements of Facts on the case reveal, inter alia, that some officials of Airbus SE between 2009 and 2015 made or promised success-based commission payments of approximately five million Euros to Intermediary 5, who is alleged to be a close relative of high ranking elected Ghanaian Government Official (Government Official 1),” he said.
He pointed out that the Statement of Facts further revealed the payments to Intermediary 5 by officials of Airbus SE were thus intended to induce or reward improper favour by Government Official 1 over the purchase of three C-295 military transport aircraft and that out of the five million Euros promised Intermediary 5, 3.85 million Euros was paid between March 2012 and February 2014.
He further asserted that according to the United States Department of Justice to the District Court for the District of Columbia, Government Official 1, who was alleged to be an elected government official and was in office from 2009 to 2016, made direct contact with the management of Airbus SE in respect of the purchase of the aircraft a few months after he assumed office.
He, therefore, said the issue had gained international dimension and needed the immediate attention of Parliament.
The Minority members seriously opposed the statement and questioned why the Speaker should admit such a statement which was full of alleged factual inaccuracies and innuendos.
According to the NDC MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, such a sensitive issue should have been admitted on the floor through motion and not a statement.
He said a precedent had been set and that when the NDC assumed the Majority in Parliament, it would call for investigation into alleged BOST saga, Ameri, disappearance of 500 excavators, disappearance of 400 tricycles and the missing gold under the present government.
According to the North Tongu MP, the Minority would be prepared for any investigation only if it would be fair and transparent because that would definitely vindicate the NDC government then that nothing wrong was done.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said indeed there were serious issues with the acquisition of the military aircraft by the then NDC government.
According to him, the government then bought a used aircraft for $35 million while a completely new one was then selling at $22 million.
He said the further purchase of staircase and the wings of the aircraft brought the total cost of each aircraft to around $60 million.
He pointed out that hangar alone for one of the planes was built by the government at a cost of $17 million which was so outrageous.
He, however, said that it would be a duplication of work for Parliament to also do another investigation into the matter which had already been referred to the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) for investigation by the President of the Republic.
He stated that Parliament could rather rely on the outcome of the investigations of the OSP for any further action on the matter.