THE DAILY GUIDE •
Vice President John Dramani Mahama may soon be invited to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for the alleged role he played in overturning the ban placed on British cocoa trading firm, Armajaro in Ghana.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) placed a ban on Armajaro which is owned by British multi-millionaire Anthony Ward, who is a known donor to the Conservative Party in the UK, when undercover investigations by a Ghanaian journalist revealed the company’s alleged involvement in massive cocoa smuggling on July 7, 2010.
Though John Mahama has denied any complicity in the lifting of the ban, pressure group Alliance for Responsible Office Holders (AFROH) says he, in one way or the other, used his position and influence to help in lifting the ban placed on the company from purchasing cocoa in Ghana.
The group, which has Haruna Mahama as its chairman, yesterday gave a blow-by-blow account of things that led to the lifting of the ban, thereby implicating the Vice President. The Cocobod has exonerated the Vice President of any complicity in the lifting of the ban.
According to them, Anthony Ward, in a letter dated July 1, 2010 asked Andrew Mitchell, the British International Development Secretary, to help overturn the ban.
He was quoted to have written, “We therefore would like to ask you to intervene on our behalf at Presidential level [in Ghana] to request the ban be lifted with immediate effect.”
The Sunday Times reported that “jut days after Mitchell read the letter, the Ghanaian Vice President was indeed lobbied on behalf of Ward’s company by a Foreign Office Minister at a dinner on the eve of the trade forum.”
Subsequently, on the July 6, 2010, Mitchell called the British High Commissioner in Ghana, Nicholas Westcott for a briefing on Armajaro whilst officials of the Department for International Development (DFID) emailed Ward’s letter to the Foreign Office, noting with emphasis, “It will be in your best interest to give this request your urgent attention.”
Not too long after, some civil servants raised concerns about the Vice President being lobbied at a London trade forum.
This proceeded with a dinner hosted by the British Foreign Minister, Henry Bellingham for John Mahama on July 7, 2010, during which Bellingham tried to influence the veep on behalf of Armajaro.
A memo from the British Foreign Office read, “The (vice president) has undertaken to look into it immediately on his return.”
Later, some officials at the Foreign Office sent a memo on July 14, 2010, proposing to meet Armajaro. The memo stated, “They might like to know what we’ve done on their behalf.”
This eventually led to the striking of the deal since the British High Commissioner sent a mail to the DFID somewhere in August 2010, disclosing that the Ghana Cocoa Board had drawn up a draft decision to allow Armajaro to resume trading, adding, “I hope this will sort the matter.”
Finally on September 28, 2010, the trade ban placed on Armajaro from doing cocoa business in Ghana was lifted in all but one district.
Per the decision to lift the ban on Armajaro, the group believes Chief Executive Officer of the Cocobod, Anthony Fofie, lacked integrity, hence did not deserve to be in charge of a multi-billion dollar trade that had, for nearly hundred years, been the main backbone of the country’s economy.
They have therefore called for his resignation since, according to Haruna Mahama, “Cocobod is seeking to cover up the role that the Vice President played.”
They therefore asked CHRAJ to investigate the Vice President to ascertain how much he was paid to lobby for the ban placed on Armajaro to be lifted.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu