Former attorney general and minister of justice under the erstwhile Kufuor administration, Lawyer Ayikoi Otoo has advised former President John Dramani Mahama to forget about his request to keep the official residence of the Vice President as his official residence and retirement package.
The former president in a statement issued to the new administration requested to maintain the residence which he has occupied while as both vice and president of the republic.
The statement also argued that the sixth Parliament, before its dissolution, approved the former President receiving a house as part of his package as a former office holder.
However, the NPP’s transition team has challenged the former president to provide evidence of his claims. The debate over the request of Mr. Mahama has sparked mixed reactions from commentators including lawyers.
Some have described it as unlawful and a breach of the Transition Act which requires that the president vacates his premises a day before the new administration is sworn into office.
In an interview with Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5 FM, Lawyer Ayikoi Otoo said, the rule of law must be enforced and not the rule of men.
According to him, the president does not have the moral ground to make such a request considering what they did to the late Jake Obestebi Lamptey when he offered to buy his bungalow.
‘’The constitution provides retirement benefits for Article 71 office holders but I am looking at the background to what happened when Jake offered to buy his bungalow…’’
He said the late national chairman of the NPP was insulted and called names and stories fabricated by the NDC that the NPP was stealing Ga lands.
He said Dr. Omane Boamah and Okudjeto Ablakwa went to court claiming it was immoral for the late NPP leader to have purchased the bungalow.
“They even turned it into a campaign issue and started insulting my Ga people that they should not permit such a thing to happen and the NPP were stealers of Ga lands.”
He added, when former President Kufuor also made a similar request, he was attacked and insulted and asked to go to Kumasi and request a land there.
Lawyer Ayikoi Otoo who appeared surprised at the request of former President Mahama asked: ”how come that today, the leader of the NDC is now telling us that he also wants the official government bungalow allocated to him should now be settled as part of his retirement benefits?
He chided the NDC for the demand especially when they have spoken against it in the past.
Lawyer Ayikoi Otoo also called for circumspection in the discussion on the request by former President Mahama because “something does not add up.’’
“The Presidential Transition Act also says that he [John Dramani Mahama] should vacate the residence. So what he is doing amounts to disrespect to the laws of this country. And I don’t think that it is justified in anyway. That is why I am calling upon him that, he vacates the residence.’’
Lawyer Ayikoi Otoo challenged Mr. John Dramani Mahama to “permanently abandon the idea and just quit the place, and allow institutional democratic credentials to follow him wherever he will be in retirement.’’