The Majority in parliament has condemned as “unpatriotic” and “parochial”, claims by the Minority in parliament that a Lebanese-Palestinian businessman, Mahran Mustapha Baajour, has been abducted in Ghana for the past three months without any word on that from the government, a situation the opposition caucus claimed had given cause to international protests.
A statement issued by the Minority on Sunday, 24 March 2019 condemned the Akufo-Addo administration over the manner in which it said the abduction of the 39-year-old Lebanese businessman had been handled by officialdom.
The opposition MPs demanded that the government act in an accountable manner as is expected of democratic states by breaking its “unhelpful silence” over the abduction and disappearance of Mahran Mustapha Baajour.
The statement, signed by North Tongu MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said: “Mahran Mustapha Baajour, 39, is a Lebanese businessman of Palestinian origin, who arrived in Ghana from Lebanon on a business visit on the 13th of December 2018 and has since not been seen in public.
“The Minority is reliably informed that immediately after arriving at the Kotoka International Airport on the 13th of December 2018, Mahran Mustapha Baajour and his two Ghanaian hosts who welcomed him at the airport, were arrested at the precincts of the airport just when they were about departing in their Toyota saloon vehicle with registration number GN 6126 – 15, by persons claiming to be operatives of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
“After all three were kept in detention for six days in violation of Ghanaian law, our understanding is that Mahran's two hosts, one Razak Abdul and another, were then released as free men while Mahran was kept in detention. This is the reason Mahran's family and officials from his country are having a hard time believing denials and claims of innocence by Ghanaian government officials they have contacted.”
It added: “This despicable human rights violation is stirring considerable unease in diplomatic circles, with Ghana's image as a stable democratic state which upholds human rights and respects the rule of law, clearly on the line.
“Mahran Mustapha Baajour's three-month-old abduction has already led to major protests in Beirut, Lebanon where petitions have been presented to that nation's President and the Speaker of their Parliament.
“Our monitoring of international media, including Al-Jazeera, which has already broadcast two stories on this matter, confirms that another petition demanding the release of Mahran addressed to the Ghanaian government has been presented to our Consular Officer in Lebanon where another protest was staged with protesters carrying banners which read: ‘Mahran is in your prisons’”.
“The Minority, which continues to follow this matter with keen interest, has come into further information pointing to an escalation of protests by Lebanese nationals and human rights activists across the world against the Ghanaian government. Indeed, protests have been scheduled to take place at Ghana's embassy in Washington, D.C. in the United States of America later this week. Undoubtedly, this worrying development does not bode well for Ghana's image in the comity of nations. We must also be conscious of the implications of this whole abduction affair, especially on our peacekeeping troops in Lebanon if the matter in issue continues to be handled so abysmally.
“Despite the Minority's numerous behind-the-scenes interventions urging the government to publicly state its claimed innocence and be seen to be manifestly working to resolve the mystery; the continuous silence of the Akufo-Addo-led government for more than three months, even in the face of several local and international press reports as matters degenerate and as anxiety rises to fever pitch [levels], is most reckless and unacceptable, to say the least.
“This uninspiring conduct by the current government is, unfortunately, fueling several suspicions in various quarters even as our international image continues to take a nosedive in recent times following the unresolved assassination of undercover journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale and the disgraceful bloody Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, both of which attracted wide international condemnation.
“The Minority, therefore, demands that the Akufo-Addo administration, which is in charge of the territorial security of Ghana, and which is being held responsible by the growing number of protesters, takes urgent steps to assure the family of Mahran Mustapha Baajour – who we note sadly lost his mum last week, the people of Lebanon and the entire international community – that Ghana will not slide into a state of lawlessness or will we become a haven for human rights abuses perpetrated by faceless persons acting in the name of the state.”
However, the Majority caucus, in a counter press statement signed by Mr John Ntim Fordjour, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said: “We wish to emphatically state that credible checks conducted at the National Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration affirm beyond a doubt that no such person had arrived at the Kotoka International Airport, contrary to the palpably false accounts given by the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. It is abundantly clear that the claims of the Minority are false, unfounded and holding no truth. More so, failure on the part of the Ranking Member and the Minority to verify the facts with the relevant agencies prior to release of the statement, smacks of deliberate attempt to cause disaffection for the image and reputation of Ghana as they have often sought to do”.
Read the full statement below:
MAJORITY PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE PALPABLY FALSE CLAIMS OF ABDUCTION OF LEBANESE NATIONAL MISCHEVOUSLY MADE BY THE MINORITY
The attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament has been drawn to a press statement released by the Minority making rather outrageous allegations of abduction of one Mahran Mustapha Baajour purported to be a Lebanese businessman of Palestinian origin at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, on December 13, 2018.
We wish to emphatically state that credible checks conducted at the National Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration affirm beyond a doubt that no such person had arrived at the Kotoka International Airport, contrary to the palpably false accounts given by the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. It is abundantly clear that the claims of the Minority are false, unfounded and holding no truth. More so, failure on the part of the Ranking Member and the Minority to verify the facts with the relevant agencies prior to release of the statement, smacks of deliberate attempt to cause disaffection for the image and reputation of Ghana as they have often sought to do.
We, therefore, strongly condemn the rather mischievous and most unpatriotic falsehood fabricated by the Minority and accordingly urge the general public to disregard and treat with the contempt it deserves, the obnoxious attempt by the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Minority, to smear the highly reputed image of our beloved country Ghana in the comity of nations.
Ghana is acclaimed in the international community as a country where human rights and the rule of law are creditably upheld and thus, any contemptible attempt by the Ranking Member and the Minority, to falsely portray your country otherwise, in pursuit of parochial and partisan interests should and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.
It is our understanding that the National Security shall accordingly issue a response in due course.
John Ntim Fordjour, MP
Member, Committee on Foreign Affairs
For and on behalf the Majority Caucus