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Gov’t rejects allegation from New York Times



By: Raphael Apetorgbor

Government has debunked reports from the New York Times alleging that some government officials used a private jet, Bombardier belonging to Ibrahim Mahama, younger brother of sitting President, John Dramani Mahama which recently landed in Iran.
The story titled, ”U.S.-Flagged plane in Iran has ties to Ghana” questioned the basis on which a US airline landed in Iran without approval.
The report said one image captured the plane flying to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where President Mahama had spoken in September. 
According to The New York Times, the visit came as Iran sought to cultivate close relations with West African countries, including Ghana, which also enjoyed warm relations with the United States. 
In what seemed like an indirect reference to the chilly relationship between the United States and Iran, Marziyeh Afkham, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman who announced the purpose of the visit, in a statement emphasized that the passengers and crew “were all non-American”. The plane departed Iran on Thursday, April 17, Ms. Afkham said, after a series of meetings between the Ghanaian delegation and top Iranian officials.
However, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations explained that the plane carried private business men who on their own went to transact their own business in Iran, adding, Ibrahim Mahama is not a member of government and could not possibly have led members of government to Iran.
"President Mahama has never travelled on that aircraft; the delegation that that plane conveyed to Iran was not a government delegation. It was a business delegation made up of private Ghanaian business men," Ofosu Kwakye stated.
He further refuted this allegation in response to a press statement issued by a pressure group christen Ghanaians for a Better Government which had insisted that the U.S.-flagged plane that landed in Tehran and was traced to Engineers and Planners (E&P), ferried top government officials to Iran, and not a business delegation as claimed by the jet’s operators, (E&P).
Mr. Ofosu Kwakye said that the explanation and clarification offered by E&P should settle the matter.
“Engineers and planners had issued a statement in which they clarified the issues. They state without fear of equivocation that the President has never travelled on the Engineers and Planners jet.
Secondly Government has not sent any delegation that has travelled in that jet to Iran and I believe that should end the matter.” he stated.
He said the Iranian Foreign Ministry can neither purport to speak for the government of Ghana, nor for the company which owns the aircraft.
In a related development Executive Director of E&P, Mr. Adi Ayitevie said in a press statement of which the Daily Express obtained a copy said: “We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft.”
It said the story by The New York Times was speculative, since the company had not received any queries from US law enforcement agencies about international aviation rules regarding the flagged plane.
Mr. Ayitevie explained that the aircraft only transported a group of Ghanaian business executives to Iran and had since returned to Ghana.
"The said trip was made in conformity with all international aviation laws,” it said.
He further debunked breaching any international aviation rule regarding the Bombardier aircraft it flew into Iran.



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