Case against you not politically motivated - A-G tells Ato Forson

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
 A-G and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame
A-G and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame

The Attorney–General’s Department (A-G) has refuted assertions by a former Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, that a criminal case against him is politically motivated.

On December 23, last year, the A-G filed criminal charges against Dr Forson, who is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Ajumako-Enyan-Essian, and the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, for allegedly causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase some 200 ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016.

Reacting to the charges at a press conference on December 24, 2021, Dr Forson said they were a "frivolous and politically motivated attempt" to silence him from performing his legislative role in scrutinizing the 2022 Budget.

But in a press statement on January 5, 2021, the A-G said Dr Forson linking the prosecution against him to the 2022 budget in Parliament was “absurd and misleading”.

The statement was signed by a Deputy A-G, Ms Diana Asonaba Dapaah, on behalf of the A-G and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame.

Investigations

According to the A-G, investigations into the alleged financial crimes in the purchase of the ambulances commenced in 2017 way before the 2022 budget was laid before Parliament.

“The investigations had been ongoing since 2017 with a number of statements taken from various persons at different points in time, including the Rt Hon Alban Bagbin, former Minister of Health (now Speaker of Parliament), Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, Madam Sherry Ayittey and Dr Alex Segbefia, all former Ministers of Health as well as the first accused. At that time, no issue relating to the 2022 budget and economic policy of the government had either come up or was contemplated,” the statement added.

The A-G explained that the investigations reached a crescendo in June 2021 with the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service starting criminal proceedings against some individuals for prosecution by the A-G.

“Further statements were taken from various persons. At that stage, no issue relating to the 2022 budget and economic statement of the government had come up,” the statement added.

Prosecutions

The A-G said it was committed to upholding the rule of law and protecting the public interest by the discharge of its prosecutorial duties without fear or favour of anyone.

“The Office of the Attorney-General will zealously prosecute crimes bordering on abuse of public funds which have been fully investigated and are considered to be worthy of prosecution.

All persons in Ghana are equal before the law. The status of a Member of Parliament is no bar to prosecution for a crime committed,” the statement added.

Charges

Dr Forson was charged together with Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health and Richard Jakpa, a businessman.

The three are facing on five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully cause financial loss to the state, contravention of the public procurement act and intentionally misapplying public property.