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Rockson Bukari resigns from office as Minister of State over bribery allegation

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Rockson Bukari resigns from office as Minister of State over bribery allegation
Rockson Bukari resigns from office as Minister of State over bribery allegation

Mr Rockson Bukari has resigned from office as a Minister of State at the Office of the President following allegations of attempted bribery of a journalist to "kill" a story in the Upper East Region.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has since accepted the resignation.

Mr Bukari is said to have attempted to bribe the journalist, Edward Adeti of the Daily Dispatch newspaper, who is also the Upper East Regional correspondent for Accra based radio station Starr FM.

He is said to have offered a new motorcycle and Gh¢5000 to the journalist, for him to drop a story against a mining firm and a judge, but the journalist reportedly refused to accept the "gift" to "kill" the story.

The journalist went ahead to take photos of the motorcycle and Gh¢5000 "gift" and published them.

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He also recorded his telephone conversations with Mr Bukari pleading with him to accept the "gift" and drop the story and has published that as well.

Mr Bukari, who used to be the Upper East Regional Minister in a statement issued by the his office on Sunday denied the bribery allegation and insisted he was only intervening.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Minister’s approach by way of pleading with Edeti [journalist] is typical with his peace-making intervention approach to situations, and in this case, sought to avoid what he was informed was a misjudgment sought to be projected to hurt the reputation of a retiring judge in the region he had superintended as minister,” a statement from Mr Bukari's office on Sunday said.

The journalist also reacted to the Minister’s statement and called for his head.

“With all due respect, I think the Minister should resign. How could you sink so low with a tattered statement like this! You cannot be trusted! You have demonstrated that you are not fit to be there!” Adeti said.

Resignation and statement from Presidency

A statement signed and issued by Mr Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the Presidency explained Mr Bukari's resignation followed an allegation of an attempted bribery of a journalist in the Upper East Region.

"The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Monday 29th April 2019, accepted the resignation from office of Hon. Rockson Bukari, Minister of State at the Office of the President."

"This was after Hon. Rockson Bukari submitted his letter of resignation to the President on Monday, 29th April, because he had "taken note of the tape circulating in the media", and had, therefore taken the decision to resign "in order not to allow the tape to disrupt the focus of government in delivering on its mandate," the statement from the presidency said.

In his letter of resignation, Mr Bukari explained he was taking the move "as a matter of principle", having "exercised judgment contrary to what I have known you [President Akufo-Addo] to stand for and require of your servants in running this country."

The statement from Mr Arhin said the President accepted his resignation and wished him well in his future endeavours.

What happened?

The journalist has been explaining why he recorded the telephone conversation he had with Mr Rockson Bukari, over an attempt to bribe him to drop a story against a judge and a Chinese mining company.

Below is the full write-up on his Facebook page on Sunday April 28:

MY LAST WORD ON THE LEAKED TAPE

I just hope this is my last word on this tape thing. No one should question why I recorded that conversation. I recorded it because of you— past, present and future victims of the injustices in our justice system.

It wasn’t that I didn’t need money when they brought five thousand Ghana cedis to me to hide that story from you. I remember my son (name withheld) was wearing a tattered pair of shorts to school at the time. It wasn’t that I did not need a better means of transport at the time. Those who know me in Bolga know that the motorbike I use is so wobbly I feel shy to ride it even at night. I could have taken those ‘gifts’ for myself and nobody would have known about it and injustice would continue to bleed of all you dry. This is not to court public sympathy; I don’t want that kind of attention. I’m saying this for someone to understand how the public interest is more important than any gratuitous personal interest. Injustice and murder are the same.

When Rockson Bukari pleaded his heart out, it wasn’t that I was coldblooded. As he was pleading with me on the telephone, I was looking at the underprivileged children, the hungry aged people and the frustrated young men and women who were bleeding somewhere because of the corruption and the injustice in our system. If I had to put courtesy aside as an elderly cabinet minister begged, I had to do so because I did not want you (the helpless) to beg for justice tomorrow. That is all Journalism is about. That is what the Rhythm you hear in the Jingle of Journalism is all about. Rockson was not my aim. Injustice was! Injustice is real. And you will taste it one day if you are not tasting it already!

The more you hate me, the more I do what you hate me for. I don’t need any love from anyone who loves injustice no matter who they are! The circulation of the leaked tape has, among other interesting things, also revealed people I least expected to stab me in the back but who are now stabbing me right in the bare face! If you stretch your ‘bloodstained’ hands to me tomorrow wherever we meet, I will give you a heartbreak rather than a handshake.

“Why did you give some of the tapes to some lawyers?” you ask. My answer: I engaged them to confront the judge in his chambers to recuse himself from the case, a demand he would not yield to without evidence (those tapes). “The lawyers, because they speak for one of the parties involved in the case, probably paid you for the tapes,” you guess. My clarification: the lawyers rather were afraid I was recording them, too; and their concern was rather about my security.
Besides, if I could reject five thousand Ghana cedis and a brand-new motorbike worth the same amount, for how much would I sell a small number of tapes I gave out as compared to the value of the bribe and the juicy promises the bribers also made? A thief would have taken advantage of the ‘opportunities’ by feasting from all sides with impunity. And if I had benefited from that investigative work, you would have seen some changes in me by now since last year.

I am not into Journalism for fame or fortune. Let those who support injustice, including the media-preneurs, continue to do what they do. They will surely answer one day for the blood of the innocent who suffer and die from prejudice.

If you see me in a confrontation with someone, know there is an injustice issue somewhere. If you see me docked any day in court, know that I am standing trial because I am fighting some elements whose greed is a threat to your need. And if I ever go to jail in the line of duty, it is because I want you to be free from the well-established oppressors and the retrogressive intellectuals who think they can always tie a rope around your neck and drag you to a ‘slaughterhouse’ at will. I just pray and hope that a time never comes when we shall not fight corruption and injustice only with the pen but with both the pen and the sword!

Finally, to those who dogmatically say I leaked the tape. In my entire life, I have never regretted anything I have written. The only thing I regret is what I have not written. I am not known for running away from my actions once my conscience was consulted before taking the decisions. I am an Edward, not a coward. If I leaked the tape, I would stand by it. The last time, I explained the reason I had held on to those tapes. I said it last year in a publication that some of them were not meant for the public for the good of the same public.

Some probably did not believe there were any tapes let alone to think they were ‘explosive’ as I indicated. Just one leaked tape, look at the ripples. But I tell you, that leaked tape is ‘a tribute’ as compared to the more damning ones which nobody has any idea about yet and will never be known because no one else has them apart from the source. In my opinion, the leaked recording is just one of the hit tracks of an incomplete album, released by whoever did it. I have not leaked any tape to the public. If I had got any mischief up my sleeve and had wanted to leak any tape, I rather would have gone for a more damning one. I did not leak any tape. But if you push me too far, too far to the cliff, I will not release a mere tribute hit track; I will release the kraken! (as unleashed in Clash of the Titans)

Edward Adeti.

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