Claim: Former President Mahama promises Atto Essien a Presidential pardon
Source: Social Media
Researched by Sedem Kwasigah
Has former President John Mahama promised to grant a pardon to Ato Essien when elected in 2024?
On social media, GhanaFact has identified 2 visual cards supposedly published by leading news platforms, Citinewsroom.com and Ghanaweb.com, stating that: “Ato Essien will be granted Presidential Pardon”, with the statement being attributed to former President John Mahama.
The visual cards shared on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook- (here, here and here), began circulating a day after a high court in Accra sentenced Ato Essien to a 15-year jail term with hard labour for stealing over GH¢90 million of the bank’s money.
This report seeks to verify whether the former President made the comment being attributed to him.
Between 2017 and 2019, the Central Bank revoked the licenses of four hundred and twenty (420) financial institutions in an exercise dubbed the Banking Sector Cleanup.
This included 9 banks and subsequently, the prosecution of some actors/persons who played various roles that led to the collapse of the banks.
In 2022, Ato Essien who is the founder of Capital Bank, one of the affected banks was sentenced by an Accra High Court on the charges of stealing about GHS 90 million from Capital Bank and to avoid a custodial sentence, he was asked to repay the money.
However, Ato Essien has defaulted on the repayment plan, leading to a 15-year custodial sentence.
A thorough online search conducted on the websites of GhanaWeb and Citinewroom showed the popular news platforms have not published any such articles.
Further checks on their social media handles also showed no signs of the publication of the viral visual cards on any of their verified social media accounts.
Rather, GhanaWeb, on its social media platforms, issued a disclaimer/debunk of the claim:“ This news flier with [the] caption, “Ato Essien will be granted Presidential Pardon – Fmr President John Mahama, was not produced by GhanaWeb.”
This news flier with caption,”Ato Essien will be granted Presidential Pardon – Fmr President John Mahama” was not produced by GhanaWeb. pic.twitter.com/VAVHl3DtmM
— GhanaWeb (@TheGhanaWeb) October 13, 2023
Also, a Sub-Editor at GhanaWeb, Bernice Owusuwaa, in a phone conversation, confirmed that the online platform did not produce the flyer.
Our checks also show that Citinewsroom has issued a debunk and labelled the visual card as a “fake news card.”
Public Notice !!
Kindly disregard this fake news card.
— CITI FM 97.3 (@Citi973) October 13, 2023
GhanaFact as part of investigating the claim has chanced on a website – dailyinsightsonline.com/ – that published an article with the headline – “Former President Mahama to Grant Ato Essien Presidential Pardon: Controversy surrounds high profile decision.”
(Read another fact-check report connected to – dailyinsightsonline.com – HERE)
“In a surprising turn of events, former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama has announced his intention to grant Ato Essien, the former founder of Capital Bank, a presidential pardon.” The dailyinsightsonline article partly stated, despite not providing the source of the information.
Meanwhile, the Director of Elections and IT of the leading opposition party – National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr Edward Omane Boamah, has debunked the claim on his Facebook page, labelling it as “Fake news”.
The claim that former President John Mahama has promised Atto Essien a Presidential pardon is FALSE.