With the 7 December election a week away, a smear aerial bombing campaign by forces aligned to the opposition National Democratic Congress has failed to take off as a video clip claiming to show President Akufo-Addo taking a bribe from an unnamed woman has been exposed as fake.
Original footage has been uncovered and has been seen by reporters for Asaase Radio.
It reveals the identity of all those involved, when the visit took place and the intention behind the meeting between the woman and Akufo-Addo which features in the clip.
The doctored footage, cut and primed for broadcasting on TV and unleashing on social media, shows a woman visiting Akufo-Addo in his office at his home in Accra to “make a donation”.
She hands over a bulky brown envelope containing cash amounting to what the person who seems secretly to be filming the scene describes as $40,000.
Fake news footage
In the fake news footage, the voice of the person apparently behind the camera on the day describes the woman’s husband, a senior public servant.
The woman is visiting Akufo-Addo on his behalf, the voice says, because his career is in danger under the New Patriotic Party government.
Akufo-Addo eagerly accepts the donation and notes details of the sum and the benefactor’s name in a log book.
The voice implies that Akufo-Addo has accepted a bribe to use his influence as president of the Republic of Ghana to ensure that her family’s interests are kept safe.
Attempt to smear
The original clip of the visit is now in our possession and Asaase Radio can report exclusively that it gives the lie to every damning suggestion in the “smear”, doctored version.
The clip clearly shows the then Candidate Akufo-Addo, in the lead-up to the election in 2016, receiving an NPP supporter wishing to make a donation to his third presidential campaign.
She has previously tried to hand over the donation to Ama Busia, a senior member of the NPP Council of Elders, but because Ms Busia is indisposed, the woman has sought out Candidate Akufo-Addo.
The woman, introduced as Hajia Fawzia, is accompanied by Dr Barfuor Adjei Barwuah, previously Ghana’s ambassador in Japan under President Kufuor, and a second man, believed to be the person who filmed the meeting secretly.
There is a friendly conversation between the people in the clip, but nothing to suggest anything other than an informal meeting. They refer to the recent enskinment of the Kpenbewura, the paramount chief of the Salaga area, and the woman expresses her pleasure that he is a friend of the president, as she is the chief’s cousin.
She donates 1,000 T-shirts that she has printed at her own expense to promote the NPP’s 2016 presidential campaign. The man behind the camera fetches a sample of the T-shirt from a car parked outside the office.
A close-up of the T-shirt (reproduced above) clearly shows the T-shirt as one from the 2016 election campaign – not this year’s election.
Akufo-Addo notes the details of the money donated to his then campaign: the sum, by implication, is GHC40,000 rather than dollars. Pleasantries are exchanges as the visitors depart.
Grasping at straws?
The fake news clip presents the story quite differently.
The one-man anti-Akufo-Addo smear factory Kevin Taylor was first out last week with the crude claims in this last-ditch push to soil the president’s reputation.
Taylor began circulating a trailer on social media for a special edition of his propaganda rant “With All Due Respect”.
“This is an official announcement coming from myself,” Taylor said feverishly in one of his trademark monologues: “… on Monday 1 December [sic] the biggest scandal will be released. That will be the final scandal for 2020, the grand finale.
“The scandal I’m about to release on Monday, it’s bigger than Agyapa, it is bigger than PDS.”
Shouting at the camera, he carried on: “When I release this scandal on Monday, the table will turn, drastically [sic]. It will never go back to its normal position again [sic].”
Taylor encouraged viewers to “tell a friend to tell a friend and tell the president”. He said the smear clip would fulfil his promise to unearth a scandal that would “bring this government to its knees”.
A headline in a thinly disguised propaganda rag that has suddenly emerged in Ghana – the self-styled “Salis Newspaper” – hustled to maintain the hype. “CAUGHT PANTS DOWN!” the headline screamed. “President Akufo-Addo taking bribe.”
Ama Busia, the doyenne political activist who served on the NPP Council of Elders, told Asaase Radio that she recalls the woman visiting her because she wanted to make a donation to the party for its 2016 election campaign.
“They brought the T-shirts and they said they wanted to give them to Nana for his 2016 campaign. They wanted me to take them to Nana but I wasn’t too well so I piled them on the verandah. Then I asked Dr Adjei Barwuah to take them to Nana and that’s exactly what he did,” Ms Busia said.
“The things were bulky so they were on the verandah. I couldn’t move them, so they came to pick them with a truck. Adjei Barwuah might have helped them get it.
“I think it was either first week in October 2016 or the last week in September.” She recalled the timing because she travelled out of Ghana in early to mid-October 2016.
On this morning’s Asaase Breakfast Show, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, reissued an alert to the public about the threat of disinformation and misinformation campaigning by political actors.
He warned that the week ahead will swirl with fabricated stories, fixed photos and false information, with the intent of swaying the result of this year’s election.
The opening shots in the first salvo from the NDC’s fake news guns misfired. But, in the dying days of the Election 2020 campaign, Ghanaians can expect to see more of the dirty stuff.
Asaase Radio understands that there will be broadsides relating to local assembly contracts, close associates and near relations of the president, as well as senior members of Nana Akufo-Addo’s first NPP government.
For a fuller-length version of the unedited clip, visit: https://www.facebook.com/asaaseradio99.5.