The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, has been acquitted and discharged by the Accra High Court in the matter of alleged procurement breaches in the purchase of an ambulance for his constituency.
The case was the first of the only two alleged corruption cases initiated in court by the former Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu.
In a ruling yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, acquitted and discharged the MP and six others after she upheld a submission of no case by their respective lawyers.
Justice Asare-Botwe held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused persons, and, therefore, there was no need for the accused persons to be called upon to open their defence.
She subsequently acquitted and discharged all of them.
The six other accused persons were the Municipal Chief Executive Officer for Bawku, Hajia Hawa Ninchema; a former Municipal Coordinating Director for Bawku, Sumaila Ewuntomah Abudu; the Procurement Officer of the assembly, Alex Vadze; the Municipal Finance Director, Abdul Mumuni Jesewunde; the Municipal Health Director, Mary-Stella Adepesa; and a businessman, Mumuni Yakubu Nambe.
The MP and the six others were dragged to court in 2019 by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) led by the then SP, Mr Amidu.
Mr Ayariga was charged with abetment to contravene the Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), while the rest were charged with contravention and conspiracy to contravene Act 663.
They were alleged to have violated Act 663 for purchasing the ambulance without requesting for quotations as required by the law.
Mr Ayariga, was also separately charged with using public office for profit contrary to Section 179(c)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
It was the case of the prosecution that although the ambulance was purchased with public funds, Mr Ayariga misrepresented that he used his personal resources to purchase the ambulance.
According to the prosecution, the MP branded the ambulance: “Donated By: Hon. Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central to the People of Bawku”, and handed the ambulance over to the assembly.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Submission of no case
The prosecution presented its case based on the evidence presented by two witnesses — the investigator and a procurement officer.
After the prosecution closed its case, the onus was now on the defence to present their defence.
The accused persons decided to file a submission of no case, a procedure provided for accused persons under Section 173 of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).
Section 173 of Act 30 gives a court the power to acquit an accused person if the court determines that the prosecution had failed to make a case sufficient enough for the accused person to open his defence.
Lawyers for the accused persons argued that the prosecution failed to make any case against their clients, which was upheld by the court.
Alleged tax evasion
Although Mr Ayariga is free from this particular case, he is facing another criminal case initiated by the OSP.
In that particular case, he is alleged to have used his position as MP to evade taxes by paying GH¢6,062.86 instead of GH¢36,591.15 to clear some vehicles at the port.
He has been charged for using public office for private benefit.
The MP has denied any wrongdoing, and has pleaded not guilty to the charge.