An Accra High court has slashed charges slapped on opposition MP, Mahama Ayariga, by the Special Prosecutor.
The court said the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, is not allowed by its law to prosecute the Bawku Central MP on charges of fraudulent evasion of taxes, fraudulent evasion of customs duties and dealing in foreign exchange without a license.
It all relates to the MP’s importation of three Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles in 2017, partly funded by a loan facility guaranteed by Parliament and accessible for all MPs.
The Special Prosecutor found, the MP was to pay duties of about ¢36,000. But the MP paid ¢6,000.
He also said the former Minister under the John Mahama government, broke the law when he dealt in foreign exchange with an agent of the Dubai-based supplier of the V8 vehicles.
These charges, the Justice Afia Asare Botwe presided court says, are not corruption-related offences which is the mandate of the Special Prosecutor.
In effect, of the four charges relating to the purchase of the three used Toyota Land Cruisers, only one remains standing.
The charge of using public office for private gain. A second accused person, Kendrick Marfo, was also discharged by the court. He was charged with tax evasion.
While the Bawku Central MP would enjoy some amount of early success in getting the charges severely reduced, he made no such progress in another set up charges relating to the purchase of a Mercedes Benz sprinter to be used as an ambulance for his constituency in April 2018.
He faces two charges in this transaction. Abetment to contravene the procedure to request for quotation in the purchase of the Mercedes Benz bus for ¢100,000.
The Special Prosecutor said the MP also used his public office for private gain when he got the ambulance branded as his own personal donation to the Bawku Municipal Assembly.
The fact is, that money was public funds disbursed to the MP from the Common Fund.
Martin Amidu maintains, the Bawku Central MP knew this “very well”. In both cases of the purchases of the V8 Land Cruisers and the Sprinter bus, Mahama Ayariga pleaded not guilty.
In this particular case of the Sprinter bus, Mahama Ayariga was granted self-reconnaissance bail at the same cost as the Bawku ambulance – ¢100,000.
Mahama Ayariga had tried to stop Martin Amidu from trying him at the High court. He questioned his capacity to hold public office at age 66 when the statutory age for such offices is 65years. He failed at the High Court although that case is still at the Supreme Court.
He also questioned the Special Prosecutor’s capacity to try him for the offences. He only partially succeeded. The former Minister now has three charges to contend with. It used to be six.