The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, has admitted he breached the 1992 Constitution when he signed an agreement with Sheik Maktoum for the supply of some 3 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine.
The Constitution in Article 181 Clause 5 says Parliament approval shall be sought on all international agreements, but this was sidestepped in the deal.
Providing evidence before a special Parliamentary committee probing the deal, the minister said exigency at the time made it difficult to comply with the directive.
On Thursday, July 15, 2021, the Minister informed Parliament that government’s contract with middle-man, Sheikh Al Maktoum to supply the country with Sputnik V vaccines had been terminated.
He said the businessman wrote to the Ministry on Wednesday, July 14, to terminate the contract.
Mr Agyeman-Manu also explained that the rising cases of infections and deaths forced him to disregard the procedures in signing the contract to procure Sputnik V vaccines.
“I was in a desperate and helpless situation with the management of the Covid numbers. In February, we had 78 deaths; by March, we had 56 deaths, and these were the numbers that pushed me to act,” he said.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said he had to rely on the Executive Instrument 61 passed by Parliament and hide behind the emergency clauses that had been invoked to do that.
“I had plans to come to seek approval from the House after I have signed the contract. But [due to] my frustrations to try to get vaccines for us at the heat of the second wave, I relied on the Executive Instrument 61 passed by Parliament and hid behind emergency clauses that have been invoked to do that.”
“And I came to Parliament and informed the House that this is what I had done and, therefore, I need regularisation and approval to provide it,” he said.
Mr Agyeman-Manu assured the public that the Ministry would no longer proceed with any procurement without parliamentary approval.
But Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson Dafeamekpor, says the health minister could be liable for prosecution.
“Remember the cases Martin Amidu, the former special prosecutor took to court, the Waterville and the issues surrounding businessman Alfred Woyome government contract and the fact that the court ruled in favour of Martin Amidu on the basis that the defendants did not comply with article 181(5) of the constitution which demands parliamentary approval for all international agreements and this is a clear case of a breach of the constitutional and it is dangerous and further provides grounds for prosecution, but we will wait to see what the president will do,” he said.