Former President Jerry John Rawlings has stated that he has no regrets demolishing a $5-million hotel which belonged to entrepreneur and Executive Chairman of the Dara Salaam Group, Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim decades ago.
Mr Rawlings said the property was built on a waterway and that if given the opportunity, he would even clear other structures along with the hotel which he demolished at the time.
“Big people, however, seem to be above the law and are untouchable. If time were reversible, I would do it again and again and I will take along their new gargantuan structures in the waterways,” Mr Rawlings said during a speech on Tuesday to mark the 4 June 1979 uprising.
Alhaji Ibrahim has said that he has long forgiven former President Rawlings under whose administration his hotel was demolished.
Speaking about the issue publicly for the first time in nearly 20 years in an interview on Good Evening Ghana during the launch of his autobiography, the business magnate stated that he had forgiven Mr Rawlings for his wrongs against him.
“I’m not angry with Rawlings. I’m never angry with anybody. I know that whatever happens to me is determined by God, or God says it will happen. So, I don’t have anything against Rawlings. I’ve no choice but to forgive him; the Quran says we should forgive and forget,” he stated.
On Monday April 12, 1999, while on a routine early morning walk, Alhaji Ibrahim recounted that he received the disturbing news that his almost-completed ultramodern hotel, furnished and fitted with air conditioners, television sets, refrigerators, among other valuables, was being razed by some military men based on the suspicion that he was in bed with Sir Sam Jonah, considered as an “enemy of the state” at the time.
Alhaji Ibrahim later took the matter to court and was subsequently awarded a GHS6.13-million judgement debt which was paid by the Prof. J. E. A. Mills administration in 2009.
Addressing supporters on Tuesday, 4 June 2019, Mr Rawlings said Alhaji Ibrahim “is in no position to forgive anyone or anything, not even the bush rat in his home town. God had nothing to do with unlawful structures; neither did he have anything to do with enforcing the law. Governments appear to exercise no restraint when it comes to breaking down poor people’s structures in waterways or unauthorised areas”.
He continued: “Incidentally, the structures were reported on by your respectable law-abiding neighbours who recognised the potential harm the building could cause. And to think that I am accused of ordering the demolition because I had a bone to pick with your Sam Jonah. Sam Jonah by the way, is not unknown to have a treacherous and greedier appetite than your little hotel. I’m not sure the misuse of my name will win you any sympathy. Your financial claims, and that granted by the court was overblown, but that’s how your kind mix business with politics”.