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13.05.2006 Crime & Punishment

Minister Denies Bribery Allegations

By Graphic

Prof Mike Ocquaye, MP for the Dome-Kwabenya constituency and former Minister for Energy,now Minister for Communication, has reacted through his lawyers to a number of publications appearing in certain newspapers, which he says are scandalous and defamatory.

Letters demanding retraction of the said publications could not be delivered to some of the newspaper houses because searches for their locations proved futile, according to the lawyers of the Minister.

Prominent on the list is the Searchlight newspaper, to which the MP is demanding an unreserved retraction lest he seeks redress in a court of law. The full texts of the MP's reactions which are two-fold with the second directed at Ghana Palaver follow on page.

We publish this Press Release on behalf of our client, Hon. Prof. Mike Oquaye, in response to a series of false, misleading and defamatory publications contained in the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper editions of Friday, May 5, to Thursday, May 11, 2006, and Wednesday, May 10 to Tuesday, May 16, 2006.

The said publications sought to associate our client with unsubstantiated bribery allegations.

We wish to state categorically and vehemently that our client denies these allegations.

We further categorically and unequivocally state that our client has not in any way, shape or form, been involved in any attempt to bribe any person or persons as alleged or at all; neither has he caused any person(s) to offer any bribe on his behalf. He has neither authorised nor instructed anyone to influence anyone in any unlawful manner, whatsoever.

Following a number of publications in the Palaver, the Insight and the Lens newspapers, we wrote a rejoinder by way of our earlier RELEASE in defence of our client which was published in some newspapers. This sought to refute the false, misleading and defamatory allegations which have been made.

In view of the fact that some of the publishing houses concerned could not be traced, those persons responsible for serving our RELEASE, demanding retraction of the previous publications, went on several searches to find their locations. Some media personnel offered to assist them but at no point in time was any bribe offer made.

These persons, we are advised, never made any attempts during these searches or at any time or on any other occasion, to do anything improper or illegal. Indeed, our legal demand for retraction cannot be consistent with the wild allegations now being made.

Accordingly, we hereby demand that the publishers of the SEARCHLIGHT, unreservedly and unconditionally retract the false allegations and or associations being attributed to our client and render due apology by their next publication, failing which legal action will be taken.

Our RELEASE, which was sought to be served on the offending newspapers, follows: PRESS STATEMENT (1) We issue this press statement on behalf of our client, Hon. Prof Mike Oquaye, MP for Dome – Kwabenya and Minister of Energy.

On or about April 11, 2006, the Palaver published an article on certain matters concerning our client, particularly certain properties attributed to our client. The newspaper stated that certain reports had referred to it and those reports had been duly investigated.

The day after the said Palaver publication, another newspaper, which had also received the same reports, came out with its own findings. The essence of the different publications was that there were only four houses in Haatso. Two of the houses belong to the Minister. The other two belong to others related to the Minister. In fact, he had lived in one since 1981, and completed the other before he became a Minister early 2005.

A third house belongs to the Minister's son Godfried, a system analyst, holding MSc working in London. The house was completed before the Minister took office last year. The fourth house is the only one still under construction on land owned by Mrs. Alberta Oquaye, spouse of the Minister, and the project is being developed by her children Nana Apiasam Aidoo and Nana Kofi Aidoo, both resident, and working in the USA. The Minister has nothing to do with its construction.

It is regrettable that thereafter, the newspaper went ahead to make a further publication which deserves reaction. For the sake of putting the records straight, the following are stated accordingly: 1. Our client has not owned, and does not own, nor is associated with a jewellery shop in Osu or any part of Ghana or the whole world. The newspaper is hereby invited to produce any evidence to the contrary now, or apologise in all honesty.

2. Our client has not built, nor is he building a cold store anywhere in Accra or elsewhere. The assertion is false and the evidence should be provided now or an apology rendered forthwith.

3. Our client has not built several houses at Ashongman. In fact, he has not built even one. Our client owns only two houses in Haatso, as previously stated herein.

4. Our client does not own any house at Agbogba as the newspaper will want the public to believe. Neither is he engaged in any such construction. The publishers of this falsehood must come out with evidence to substantiate it within forty-eight (48) hours of publication of this rebuttal, or apologise to our client, in all honesty.

5. Our client has not pulled down and rebuilt any family house in Osu. The assertion is certainly baseless and those who so assert are invited to provide proof to settle the issue, or apologise. Nothing whatsoever, of the sort alleged, has taken place concerning our client.

6. Our client has been a responsible man for many years. He has been a lawyer, lecturer, researcher, writer, publisher, farmer, land and house owner, diplomat, business promoter.

7. Neither our client nor anyone associated with him has ever used any public-owned vehicle for private construction purposes. No ECG vehicle has been abused in this way. We wish to bring to the public domain that a Kia Double Cabin, blue in colour registered as GE 4971 V purchased in December 2004 and which our client's family had used on a number of occasions is private property and its colour and make should not be confused with an ECG vehicle. Those who have been publishing news are invited to check on these and honourably apologise.

8. It has been well explained that the vehicles bought on auction were purchased by the NGO Cottage Aglow for its charitable work. The NGO has embarked on a model cottage industry park in Kwabenya. This was publicly outdoored.

9. No sister of our client has taken him to Court. Anyone who cares to know about Madam Anum's case may enquire from the Courts. Our client when served with a subpoena while already in town on other business dutifully went to assist the Court to do justice and was “thanked” by the Court for so doing.

10. In trying to discredit the Oquayes and dissociate them from their rightful properties all over Osu, the newspaper regrettably said the Duncans are rich but not the Oquayes. Kindly be informed that the name Duncan relates to only one individual, David Duncan Yeboa Oquaye - the eldest of the successful Oquaye Brothers of Osu and Asamankese. The newspaper is invited to withdraw its wrong assertion and apologise. For now, we take it that the writers have been misled by certain persons for reasons best known to them. We look forward to rectification, accordingly.