Court acquits Ayariga in tax evasion case

The Special Prosecutor (SP),Mr Kissi Agyebeng, yesterday ended the alleged tax evasion case against the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga.

The SP entered a nolleprosequi in respect of all charges including using public office for private benefit and using public office in the purchase of brand new and second-hand Toyota Land cruiser vehicles.

With this development, Mr Ayariga, the accused can afford to smile again months after he and six others were acquitted and discharged of procurement breaches by the Accra High Court in the purchase of an ambulance for his constituency.

Appearing before Justice Effia Serwaa Asare-Botwe on Monday, Mr Agyebeng said that after a review of the evidence before him, the case was likely to suffer the same fate as the procurement breaches case.

“Upon further scrutiny of the available evidence, the Republic would be unable to prove its case on the standard of proof required in criminal case, viz. beyond reasonable doubt.

The present case appears certain to suffer the same fate as Case No. FT/012/2019, the Republic v. Hajia Hawa Ninchema and six others, which was dismissed on 7th May, 2021 on a submission of no case to answer.”

Upon his submission, Justice Asare-Botwe discharged the accused.

This brings closure to the two-year legal battle between Mr Ayariga which was then prosecuted by Mr Martin Alamisi Burns KaizerAmidu, the first SP who resigned in 2020.
 
Mr Ayariga and Kenerick Akwasi Marfo pleaded not guilty to all the five charges of tax evasion and abuse of office for personal gain when they were arraigned in July 2019.

The Bawku Central lawmaker appeared in all white dress over a black pair of sandals to match.

His counsel, Godwin Edudzi Tamekloe told journalists after proceedings that he was happy the SP had ended the case against his client.

The lawyer had already questioned the appropriateness of the charges against Mr Ayariga.


Ayariga was dragged to court by the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, in two criminal cases.

In the first case, Ayariga was accused of using public office for private benefit.

According to the Special Prosecutor, Ayariga allegedly 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 was charged with four counts of fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes, using public office for private benefit, dealing in foreign exchange without licence and transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorised dealer.

A second accused person, Kendrick Akwasi Marfo, a car dealer, faces one count of fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes.

In the second case, the Special Prosecutor charged Ayariga, together with six others, including a former Municipal Chief Executive for Bawku, Hajia Hawa Ninchema, for allegedly engaging in procurement breaches.

The MCE, Ayariga and five others are facing seven counts of conspiracy, abetment, contravention of the procedure for request for quotation, using public office for profit and transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorised dealer.

The seven are alleged to have acted together to import an ambulance without following due procurement process as stipulated by law.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA 

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