Monday, June 26, 2017

GITMO BOY GRABS WIFE

By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, June 26, 2017

One of the two suspected terrorists brought into the country from Guantanamo Bay near Cuba by the government of the United States of America (USA) has reportedly married a lady from his native Yemen in Ghana.

According to a Citi FM report, Al-Qaeda foot-soldier Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef, who is about 38 years, married Haia more than two months ago.

Official Confirmation
George Clarke, who has been lawyer for Bin Atef since 2015, confirmed the union, adding, “I think it was contracted while he was in Ghana, but I don’t believe the woman is from Ghana.”

“He is already married, but I don’t think it is to anybody in Ghana. He did get married after he got out of Guantanamo, but I don’t know the details of that,” Mr. Clarke added.

The lawyer said Bin Atef wants to have his ‘full’ freedom of movement whilst in the country and be able to work as well; he wants to live a regular life. He wants to get married. He wants to have kids.”

Court Verdict
The Supreme Court on Thursday held that the transfer of Bin Atef, together with Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, 37, from Guantanamo Bay to Ghana during the tenure of the previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration in early January 2016, was unconstitutional.

The court, in a 6-1 majority decision, ordered the repatriation of the two reported terrorists to the United States, if the Parliament of Ghana fails to rectify the deal within three months. 

The arrival of the terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, near Cuba, set tongues wagging and the court has finally ruled that the deal should have been ratified by Parliament, which the Mahama-led NDC government failed to do.

Minister of Information, Mustapha Hamid, after the ruling by the court, issued a statement calling for calm, as the government takes steps to execute the consequential order.

Money for Upkeep
On Saturday, a former NDC MP George Loh for North Dayi, who was then Vice Chairperson of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament when the terrorists were brought into the country, said the US gave the Ghana government $300,000 for the upkeep of the two.

“There was an amount that was agreed on for the upkeep or an amount that was proposed from the US for the upkeep of the two, and that is not something that we are disbursing as a country. We are making sure that they get everything they want,” the former MP told Citi FM, adding “I think it is about $300,000…the agreement is just for two years.

Unconstitutional Action
The suit to get the Supreme Court to interpret the deal was filed by Margaret Bamfo, an 86-year-old retired Conference Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Henry Nana Boakye, a student of Ghana School of Law.
They petitioned the Supreme Court to declare that former President John Mahama acted unconstitutionally by accepting the Al-Qaeda terrorists into Ghana.

The case took a new twist on April 12, 2016 when the defendants, made up of the Attorney-General and the Minister of the Interior, filed a process averring that Ghana actually had an existing agreement with the United States government regarding the two detainees, whose presence in Ghana, continues to generate public uproar.

On page 7 paragragh 3 of the AG’s statement of case filed on March 16, the government said, “We admit that there exists an agreement between the two governments, which was reached by the exchange of confidential diplomatic notes, otherwise known as Note Verbales.”

As a result of the U-turn by the government, De Medeiros & Associates, lawyers for the applicants, sought a request for the said agreement to be made available to them for scrutiny.

Gitmo 2 Arrival
It would be recalled that the previous Mahama administration announced that Ghana would host the terrorists for two years from the time of their arrival.

When they were brought in, the NDC government stated that Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby were being offered humanitarian assistance in Ghana under a deal signed with the Obama administration.

It turned out that the US was looking for a place to dump the two hardcore terrorists.

According to US security report on the two suspects, Mohammed Bin Atef was “a fighter in Osama bin Laden’s former 55th Arab Brigade and he is an admitted member of the Taliban.”

He trained at al Farouq, the infamous al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and “participated in hostilities against US and coalition forces, and continues to demonstrate his support for Osama Bin Laden and extremism.”




Sunday, June 25, 2017

GOV’T APPEALS FOR CALM OVER GITMO 2 DECISION

By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, June 24, 2017

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has said it would take prompt steps to address the order issued by the Supreme Court that the two hardcore terrorists brought into the country by the United States government during the era of John Dramani Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC), was unconstitutional.

The apex court on Thursday threw off the deal reached between the Mahama government and the then Obama-led US government to bring to Ghana two Al-Qaeda foot soldiers - Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef, then 36 years and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, then 34.

The court, in a 6-1 majority decision, ordered the repatriation of the two reported terrorists to the United States, if the parliament of Ghana fails to rectify the deal within three months. 

The arrival of the terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, near Cuba, set tongues wagging and the court has finally ruled that the deal should have been ratified by parliament, which the Mahama-led NDC government failed to do.

Minister of Information, Mustapha Hamid, after the ruling by the court, issued a statement for calm as the government puts the issue to rest.

“Government has taken notice of the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on Thursday, 22nd June, 2017 by a 6-1 majority, in the matter of Margaret Banful and Henry Nana Boakye Vrs Attorney General,” the statement said.

“In the judgement of the Apex Court, presided over by new Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, has held that the agreement between the Governments of Ghana and the United States of America, for the resettlement of two (2) ex-detainees from Guantanamo Bay, required parliamentary approval in accordance with Article 75 (2) of the Constitution, and a failure to secure same makes the hosting of the two ex-detainees in Ghana unconstitutional.

“Consequently, the Court has instructed that the agreement be given parliamentary approval within three (3) months or the ex-detainees deported out of Ghana upon a failure by parliament to ratify the agreement.

“Government wants to assure the nation that the ex-detainees, who have been comporting themselves well since their arrival in Ghana, continue to be under the supervision of the security agencies.”

Unconstitutional Action
The suit, filed by Margaret Bamfo, an 86-year-old  retired Conference Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Henry Nana Boakye, a student of Ghana School of Law, had petitioned the Supreme Court to declare that then President John Mahama acted unconstitutionally by accepting the Al-Qaeda terrorists in Ghana.

The case took a new twist on April 12, 2016 when the defendants, made up of the Attorney-General and the Minister of the Interior, filed a process averring that Ghana actually had an existing agreement with the United States government regarding the two detainees whose presence continues to generate public uproar.

On page 7 paragragh 3 of the AG’s statement of case filed on March 16, the government said, “We admit that there exists an agreement between the two Governments, which was reached by the exchange of confidential diplomatic notes otherwise known as Note Verbales.”

As a result of the u-turn by the government, De Medeiros & Associates, lawyers for the applicants, sought a request for the said agreement to be made available to them for scrutiny.

Proper Interpretation
The plaintiffs had averred among other reliefs that the court should make a declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Article 75 of the1992 Constitution of Ghana, the President of the Republic of Ghana acted unconstitutionally by agreeing to the transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby (both profiled terrorists and former detainees of Guantanamo Bay) to the Republic of Ghana without the ratification by an Act of Parliament or a resolution of parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the Members of Parliament.

They further sought a declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Article 58(2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the President of the Republic of Ghana who is under an obligation to execute and maintain laws of Ghana, breached the Anti-terrorism Act of 2008 (Act 762) and the Immigration Act of 2000 (Act 573), both being laws passed under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

Gitmo 2 Arrival
It may be recalled that the Mahama administration announced that Ghana would for two years from the time the terrorists arrived, host them.

When they were brought in, the NDC government stated that Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby were being offered humanitarian assistance in Ghana under a deal signed with the Obama administration.

It turned out that the two detainees were hardcore terrorists who the US is looking for a place to dump them.

According to US security report on the two suspects, Mohammed Bin Atef was “a fighter in Usama bin Laden’s former 55th Arab Brigade and he is an admitted member of the Taliban.”

He trained at al Farouq, the infamous al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, and “participated in hostilities against US and coalition forces, and continues to demonstrate his support of Osama Bin Laden and extremism.”


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NDC SLAPS MAHAMA OVER DEFEAT – BOTCHWEY REPORT DISCLOSES

By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 

Professor Kwesi Botchwey, Chairman of the 13-member committee that investigated the reason why the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost the December 7, 2016 general elections, has stated that some of the party’s supporters they interviewed said former President John Dramani Mahama did not put things right and that led to the defeat.

“There were so many issues but I can’t stand here and say that when we toured the country all we could hear was that the ex-president was the main reason for the NDC’s defeat and therefore he should not be given another chance to lead the party,” Prof Botchwey told Kasapa FM in Accra Monday evening, adding, “We didn’t hear that. We rather heard so many issues which they said the ex-president didn’t fix right.”

According to Prof Botchwey, “To be honest, some party supporters we spoke to said that the former president didn’t handle things well. Some laid the blame on constituency executives. Others said there were no jobs in the country. Some talked about the cancellation of trainee nurses’ allowance.”

He said the committee did not go in search of who will lead the NDC in 2020, but rather do a simple task of what led to the party’s massive defeat, claiming, “They told us to investigate why the NDC lost. They didn’t tell us to ask about who should be the NDC flag bearer for 2020. It was not part of our mandate.”

Prof. Botchwey said, “We have submitted our report. The party’s leadership will have to look at it and then the party will go to congress; and I think that is where they will decide who should lead the NDC.”

Money Issues
He also stressed that the committee did not go to investigate how much the NDC spent during the 2016 election campaign.

"We couldn’t state how much the NDC spent in the 2016 general elections,” Prof Kwesi Botchwey pointed out.

He admitted that issues about funds and how money could not reach certain constituencies were rife in their interactions with the supporters, maintaining, “What came to our attention was that in many places, the party could not find the money and campaign resource for them. The huge numbers that worked for the party, not all of them were paid.

 “Money issues were a problem for the NDC. We didn’t quantify how much the party spent but we looked at the amounts that were supposed to go to the grass roots where those in-charge could not do so. If you look at some places clearly, there were money issues.”

Prof. Botchwey had said at the presentation of the 455-page report on Monday that, “Everybody spoke frankly and honestly. We do make a number of recommendations, including a recommendation that the party puts together a group of credible and eminent members of our party to undertake a peace-making and healing tour of the country and visit all key sectors and constituencies. We believe this is extremely important for purposes of creating the necessary conditions for any serious work that needs to be done in the way of the party restructuring and renewal.

“We also have a recommendation that the party takes steps to restore the integrity of the biometric register and the expanded Electoral College. 

Additionally, we recommend that steps be taken to restore the capacity and effectiveness of the party’s organs, especially to the branch level. We believe these organs are most critical because they are the party’s immediate connections with the people. We are, after all, a truly mass party.

“We also have recommendations on ways in which we can and must improve the collation of election results.”
Yesterday, the party’s leadership reportedly held a crunch meeting to study the report and find ways to implement the recommendations.

A deputy general secretary of the NDC, Koku Anyidoho, averred on Starr FM that “we will meet as Functional Executive Committee members; we will look at the report. On Wednesday, we are meeting as National Executive members [as well].”

He added, “Any political watcher will tell you the recommendations certainly are coming out from certain major concerns raised.”




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WHY NDC LOST – KWESI BOTCHWEY REPORT REVEALS

By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The report on why the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost the December 7, 2016 general election to then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), has been released with startling revelations.

At the handing over of the 455-page report to the party’s leadership in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the 13-member committee, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, said it was time for the party to find means of collating its own results from the polling stations to the top ‘independently’.

The assertion of the committee feeds into the widely held perception that the NDC had all along been having a ‘secret affair’ with the Electoral Commission (EC) when it comes to issues of election collation.

It’s being alleged that during the keenly-contested December 7, 2016 general election, the NDC tied results collation platform to the EC’s system and therefore when the commission suffered results transmission breakdown, the NDC was found wanting.

By the time the transmission glitch was restored by the commission, the then opposition NPP had collated more than 80% of the pink sheets which represented over 24,000 out of 29,000 polling stations and knew the (NPP) candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was winning the election convincingly.

In the course of the transmission fault, the NDC told the public that then candidate John Mahama was in ‘comfortable lead’ and that he - who later became the first incumbent president to lose an election to an opposition candidate in the first round - was going to win.

The EC, at an Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting recently, reportedly admitted that the commission had suffered IT system crash during the collation of the 2016 election results.

Kofi Adams, the Campaign Coordinator for John Mahama, also claimed that IT system failed the NDC, without providing any explanation since the country doesn’t vote electronically.

The Prof Kwesi Botchwey Committee yesterday said the report submitted gives a detailed account of what led to the NDC’s humiliating defeat that caused serious agitations in the party.

The committee has listed issues like divisions in the party, especially among the top echelon, the party’s internal biometric registration of members, profligate campaign, diversion of campaign cash and materials, public perception of corruption and complacency among others, as some of the major causes of the party’s defeat.

Division
The committee, in its report with the sub-title, ‘Listening to the voices of the grassroots,’ recounted how the divisions in the party led to its crashing defeat.

The NDC in the run-up to the December 2016 contest, reportedly spent heavily to fuel divisions in then opposition NPP to create the impression that Nana Akufo-Addo was not ready to govern the country.

However, recent utterances by leading members of the NDC have shown that the party was more divided at the top, constituency and grassroot levels than the NPP it had tried in vain to destroy.

 Prof. Kwesi Botchwey was optimistic that the recommendations would help the NDC to re-capture power in 2020, if the party is able to follow what has been suggested.

Peace Tour
Suggestive of a heavily-divided party, the report said the party should take immediate steps to mend all broken fences and recommended a "peacemaking and healing tour," describing it as very important.

Prof Botchwey said it would create the "necessary conditions for any serious work that needs to be done" in restructuring the party.

On the internal biometric registration which turned chaotic in many constituencies across the country as the party tried to expand its electoral college, the report said it should be worked on “to restore the integrity of the biometric register."

The 13-member committee suggested the expansion of the electoral college to include ordinary party members who need to be re-examined to restore confidence in the democratic novelty.

In his 38th anniversary speech of the June 4th, 1979 uprising, former President JJ Rawlings who is the founder of the NDC, suggested in Wa, Upper West Region, that the biometric registration was fraught with irregularities and that might have created enemies from within the party for those who were shortchanged in the exercise.

The committee also touched on the many splinter groups that were formed alongside formal party structures - a situation believed to have resulted in competition for campaign resources - since some claimed the pro-Mahama groups even became more powerful in terms of campaign resources than the party’s structures, including the national executive.

In the run-up to the crucial elections, the NDC, with state resource at its disposal, formed many splinter groups to promote the second term bid of President Mahama.

Groups likes ‘Girls Girls for Mahama,’ ‘Zongo Girls for Mahama,’ ‘Zongo for Mahama,’ ‘Youth for Mahama,’ ‘Celebrities for Mahama,’ ‘Mahama Ladies,’ ‘I Choose JM,’ ‘Ambassadors for Mahama,’ Doves for Mahama’ and others, were formed with massive resources from the Flagstaff House to prosecute the agenda, which failed woefully in the end as Ghanaians overwhelmingly rejected Mahama.

The committee also recommended that the party needs to reconnect with its social democratic philosophy and further pointed out that the NDC has a weak intellectual and research base and recommended that steps be taken to crowd the party with critical thinkers.

The committee also wants the party to strengthen its youth and women’s wings and in a remark, Prof. Botchwey said, "My job is done...it is up to you to implement the recommendations.”

Apart from Prof Kwesi Botchwey, other members were former Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho, former General Secretary Hudu Yahaya, Naval Capt. Asase Gyimah, William Ahadzi (director of research at the NDC headquarters) and Ibrahim Zuberu, (Lecturer at Accra Polytechnic and member of the NDC).

The rest are Razak Abu (Researcher at NDC’s Development Challenge), Juliana Azumah Mensah (former MP for Agotime-Ziope), Barbarah Serwah Asamoah (former deputy minister) and  four members from the NDC parliamentary caucus (including the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu).


Friday, June 16, 2017

MINISTER STOPS DVLA OVER DRIVER’S LICENCE

By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, June 16, 2017

The Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, has stopped the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) from going ahead with the issuance of new driver’s licence to the public.

The DVLA announced recently that from July 18, 2017, it was going to commence the issuance of biometric driver’s licence (popularly called Smart Driver’s Licence and Vehicle Registration Cards) at additional fees, but Mr Asiamah has asked the Authority to put the project on hold until further consultations.

A letter signed by the minister asking the DVLA to suspend the project has been copied to Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia; the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare and Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo.

“There have been recent publications in the media about the launch of Smart Driver Licence and Vehicle Registration Cards by the authority and which has raised some public concerns,” the minister said in the letter.

“I wish also to refer you to the discussion I had with you on the subject for which I drew your attention to the need to obtain approval from the ministry and cabinet before the implementation of such major project,” the letter stated.

The minister requested the DVLA to submit to the ministry a memorandum on the project “to enable me to undertake some consultations and seek the necessary approval from cabinet,” adding, “Meanwhile, you are directed to suspend these projects with immediate effect until the necessary approval has been sought.”

The new DVLA Chief Cxecutive, Kwasi Agyeman Busia, recently told the media that the Smart Drivers License and Vehicle Registration Cards were expected to be issued within a period of one month and was aimed at flushing out fake licences from the system and do away with middlemen popularly known as ‘goro boys.’

He said that the new licence – which was to have come in the form of a smart card - would contain a chip loaded with the owner’s biometric data.

“This will ensure that people who have made duplication an industry will have it extra difficult to duplicate the licence. It will be practically impossible, as it will have enhanced security,” Mr Agyeman Busia was quoted as saying.

“It will also help us manage the revenue that will come to the authority because duplication is causing a lot of revenue leakage, particularly in the driving licence area. Driving licences have become the standard of our authority. We want to make sure this is protected,” he added.

However, the announcement was greeted with uproar, with the public asking for education while others believed that it was not necessary since the current licence was introduced not too long ago.




INTERDICTED POLICEMEN ON WARPATH

By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, June 16, 2017

Four policemen, including the commander at East Legon District interdicted over a $1.3 million gold scam, have accused the police administration of mounting what they claimed to be ‘negative campaign’ against them.

The commander, DSP Emmanuel A. Basintale, together with his subordinates RSM John Sovor, G/CPL Baleto Boafour and G/LCPL Cyrus Egbert Conduah, have therefore served notice to sue their employers to demand justice.

There is currently a ragging issue in which a United States firm, Green Global Resources, is accusing Ghana Police Service hierarchy of corruption in the gold case.

The Director of Strategy and Business Development of Green Global Resources, James Barbieri, alleged at a news conference in Accra that “in this situation, a lot of senior police officials and some other junior ranking officials, including BNI officers, were allegedly protecting the scammers,” a charge the police leadership has denied vehemently.

A news release issued in Accra by Kissi Agyabeng, the lawyer representing the policemen said the Ghana Police Service had engaged in what he called “negative media publications” against his clients and added that that had “encouraged other persons and entities to defame and soil our client’s reputation.”

He said his clients never engaged in any professional misconduct as being portrayed by the police and added that the policemen were not detained in any police station.

“Our clients arrested certain accused persons in connection with a gold case reported to the East Legon Police Station and processed them for court,” he said in the statement, adding that “on November 22, 2016, while the officer in charge of the prosecution was in the process of amending the charges to reflect the appropriate offences, the CID Headquarters took over the investigation of the case from East Legon.”

According to the lawyer, a CID publication of June 12, 2017 acknowledged that one Courage Gegepe, the supposed gold buyer at the center of the raging issue upon his arrest in November last year had disclosed that he and his accomplices were engaged in a scheme and defrauded the complainants, adding that “by a signal of February 17, 2017 and referenced as PO.2811/21, our clients were interdicted without any stated reason whatsoever.”

“As at May 18, 2017, more than three months after their interdiction, no disciplinary proceedings had been instituted against our clients,” the statement said, adding “the Inspector-General was mandatorily required to revoke the interdiction for our clients to resume duty.”

According to the lawyer, the Ghana Police Service has been unable to answer questions they raised about the interdiction, saying “this is because if any disciplinary proceedings have been instituted, it was done in breach of C.I. 76.”

The lawyer said his clients were dutifully doing their jobs and proceeded to arraign the suspects before court, adding that “our clients have not engaged in any act of criminality by any stretch of the legal and factual imagination.”

He said the “the confessed suspect, who had been charged with the respective offences before court, were freed by the CID Headquarters,” adding “the CID Headquarters has now declared them wanted again.”

The lawyer said it was on record that the suspects confessed to defrauding the complainants and switching the actual gold for fake gold.

“Our clients have borne in silence the brunt of the odium the publications reduced them in their name, reputation and standing in society until now,” adding “at first, we gave the Ghana Police Service the veracity or otherwise of the allegations, should it find the need to do so upon their interdiction.

However, recent events have informed us that the service is unwilling to act within the confines of the law and regulation in this matter.”














Thursday, June 15, 2017

63 DEPORTED FROM UNITED STATES AFTER TREKKING FROM BRAZIL

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sixty-three Ghanaians - all males - were deported from the United States of America yesterday.

They touched down at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on board a special flight - OmniAir International - at about 8:00 am with some of them in chains and handcuffs.

The deportees were supposed to be 63 but one could not get the chance to board the plane and was left behind to be brought in later.

According to source, majority of the deportees were football supporters who went to watch the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil but managed to enter the US and never returned.

But the authorities reportedly tracked them and brought all of them to detention centres.

Majority of the deportees, who looked furious, were handed over to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for screening, and the Ghana Police Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) were there to offer assistance.

The US authorities have said that they were brought back because they were staying in the country illegally.

One of the deportees, Awudu, told Accra-based Peace FM that he was part of a group of Ghanaians who went to watch the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but managed to stay back after the tournament, and later went to the USA to seek asylum.

He said he was detained in California for a period but later moved to Arizona and then to New York before his deportation.

Over 100 deportees - 54 of whom were Ghanaians - arrived in November last year even before President Donald Trump, who has not hidden his intention to deport all illegal and undocumented immigrants from that country, assumed office.

Deportation Hint
US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, had hinted that about 7,000 Ghanaians living illegally in the US were being processed for deportation.

“In fact, about 7,000 of them are currently at different stages of the deportation process. And we are not apologetic about that,” Mr. Jackson said in the Brong-Ahafo Region on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

Immediately Mr. Trump won the American election on Wednesday, 9 November, 2016, the Ambassador had said on radio that Ghanaians who overstayed their visas in the US must be concerned because the new administration would ask them to “depart.”

“One thing that I do think that Ghanaians need to be aware of is, I think the president-elect, as I mentioned, is likely to be more rigid about illegal immigration. We have a lot of Ghanaians who have overstayed their visas in the US and I think that they need to be concerned about whether they would be allowed to remain illegally. My guess is they will be given some options, but the president will be serious about asking those who’ve violated their visa status to depart,” Mr. Jackson had told Class FM in November.

Asked if that meant more Ghanaians should be expected back home through deportation, Mr Jackson said, “I think that’s already underway in the Obama administration. I think it’s likely to accelerate under a Trump administration, but apart from that I do not expect major changes in our policy and whatever government emerges here after the elections on December 7 will have a friend in the U.S. and I’m confident will be a friend of the U.S.”

Maltreatment Claims
Some of the deportees have complained that they were never involved in any criminal offence yet the US authorities treated them like common criminals.

“Most of us were handcuffed and treated as criminals by the U.S. authorities in Louisiana and even while on board the plane,” an aggrieved deportee complained.

Another deportee said that when the plane touched down at KIA, the US escorts attempted to take off the handcuffs to create an impression that they were treated with respect.

“They handcuffed us before we were put on board the plane. That is why we were saying we are not getting down unless they allow us to get down with the handcuffs for everybody to see how they have been treating us,” he posited.

He maintained, “They called some immigration officers (at the airport) to come and talk to us but we said ‘no we want to come down with the handcuffs on’ and so they said we should come down. They handcuffed us in the United States. My waist, hands and my legs were all cuffed. Both legs [were cuffed], so you cannot even walk, you cannot eat, you cannot do anything.”

Another said, “We have been handcuffed from Monday to today and a lot of people here (Kotoka Airport) today saw it. If you think I am lying, you can ask the people around. If you want to urinate you struggle in the handcuff before passing urine.”




GO FOR GH¢5BN STOLEN CASH - SUPREME COURT SAYS

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Auditor General (AG) to chase all public officers, who have been cited for misappropriating monies belonging to the state and surcharge them.

The court’s decision to get the AG to enforce its laws in order to protect the public purse had stemmed from a suit filed by pressure group OccupyGhana, which is currently at the forefront in the fight against corruption.

The supposed looted money is said to be over GH¢5 billion, mostly siphoned through dubious transactions like what happened at SADA, GYEEDA, the Woyome judgement debt, among others.

A seven-member Supreme Court panel presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo - who is awaiting parliamentary vetting to become the next Chief Justice - granted all the reliefs sought by OccupyGhana in respect of the Auditor General's powers of disallowance and surcharges. 

On June 22, 2016, OccupyGhana filed the suit against the AG seeking a declaration that “the Auditor General’s omission, failure, refusal or neglect to issue any Disallowances and Surcharges in respect of the above, and as appears in his successive Reports since the coming into force of the Constitution, violates the Constitution.”

The pressure group also sought an order of the court “directed at the Auditor General to issue Disallowances and Surcharges to and in respect of all persons and entities found in his relevant, successive reports to have engaged in any of the above.”

“The Auditor General must issue Disallowance and Surcharge in respect of all state monies found to have been expended contrary to law,” it averred.

The group prayed the court that“the Auditor General must take steps to recover all amounts lost to the state, and this covers private persons. The Attorney General must ensure enforcement of the orders, including criminal prosecution where necessary.”

According to the group, over GH¢40 billion has been lost due to ‘irregularities’ of public officials.
It noted that a thorough study of the Auditor General Report revealed that between 2003 and 2014, the total losses the state incurred in “irregularities” arising from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies was about GH¢2,448,968,912.29.

“This is alarming more so when we discovered further that for just the four years, 2009 and 2012 to 2014, amounts lost to Ghana from ‘irregularities’ in public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions was Five Billion, Seventy-Two Million, Six Hundred and Eighty-Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixteen Ghana Cedis (GH¢5,072,686,716),” OccupyGhana observed.

“From our projections, since the promulgation of the Constitution, the total losses to Ghana arising from ‘irregularities’ in public offices, central and local government administration, public institutions, public corporations and statutory bodies, possibly exceeds Forty Billion Ghana Cedis (GH¢40,000,000,000),” the statement added.

Before the court action, the pressure group had said it wrote to the Auditor General in 2014, reminding it to surcharge all those indicted in his respective reports or face the group in court.

Without getting any positive response after about two years, the group issued a statement, saying, “In November 2014, OccupyGhana wrote a letter, reminding him - the Auditor General - of his powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under the Constitution, demanding that he exercises them.

“Subsequently, we engaged several times with the Auditor General, with a view to assisting in putting in place the structures upon which he would exercise those powers.

“Regrettably, after a dozen letters and exchanges, and one publicized meeting on 27th March, 2015, the Auditor General has not taken any steps to exercise those powers which would lead to the recovery of huge sums of money for the State.

“That the Auditor General’s omission, failure, refusal or neglect to issue any Disallowances and Surcharges in respect of the above, and as appears in his successive Reports since the coming into force of the Constitution, violates the Constitution,” OccupyGhana stressed.










Wednesday, June 14, 2017

VICE CHANCELLOR HOT OVER GH¢2.5M INVESTMENT

By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Vice Chancellor of the Takoradi Technical University formerly Takoradi Polytechnic together with some management members are under pressure to explain why they invested the university’s money in a private financial institution which is reportedly experiencing cash flow problems.

The university invested a whooping GH¢2,550,000.00 of school fees, the management claimed did not want to use in the interim, in Brooks Assets Management and this had been done without the prior approval of the institution’s council.

31% Interest
Daily Guide investigations showed that the university started dealing with Brooks around April 2016 when it invested around GH¢26,000 but by August the same year, a whooping GH¢ GH¢2,550,000.00 had been sent to Brooks who were offering 31% interest for the investments.

Somewhere in December last year, the Finance Directorate of the university had to file a complaint against Brooks at the regulatory body -Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) - to get the private firm to pay a tiny fraction of the total the investment recalled by the university.

The university currently has around GH¢5.6 million investments with both investment and commercial banks and other financial institutions with Brooks alone sitting on about GH¢2.5 million of the funds which they management claims is ‘excess money we did not need’.

Vice Chancellor
When Daily Guide met the university’s officials, in Takoradi, the Vice Chancellor Rev. Prof. John Frank Eshun said as far as he was concerned there was nothing untoward about the whole transaction.

He said that he did not think “the investment with Brooks is any problem,” and added that the council was ‘very happy’ with the investment they made.

In an initial telephone interview, the Vice Chancellor had said “I work through the council (University Council),” and queried “How can I invest the university’s money without the council’s consent?”
When pressed further if it was prudent for the university to invest such an amount in a private entity he had said “I can’t talk to you on that.”

Finance Director
The university’s Finance Director Emmanuel Boadi granted extensive interview to Daily Guide where he also defended that through the investment strategy they adopted, the management had been able to bring more money to run the institution.

He confirmed that the university had investments with Brooks and said the banks were giving around 27.5% as interest asking “why would I take a loan at 27.5% and go out there to invest for 28%? It doesn’t make sense! Brooks was giving 31%.”

The Finance Director explained that “when school fees came around August we had so much money we didn’t need immediately so per our statutes under the Finance Committee we are allowed to invest.”

Cash Flow
He said they made the investments in order to ensure that the university did not run out of cash for the day-to-day management explaining that “in most times by May the money is finished in the school but we brought in new measures to check the problem.”

He said the student population which was around 9,000 kept dwindling as they faced stiff competition in the tertiary education sector and added that their expenditure continued to rise in spite of the dwindling number of students.

“Our population has dropped considerably but our expenditure continues to go very high. The staff strength is the same and therefore, we have had to spend more,” adding “we looked for attractive investment package to cater for the shortfall.”

Due Diligence
He said was appointed Finance Director in January 2016 and after going through the records to trace the university’s investments he did not find any permission given by the council so he wrote to the body for the permission to be granted.

“When I checked through the records I realized that I didn’t sight the permission given for the investments so I said if that is the case let me make a recommendation to council to give us approval so that if something happens we are covered.”

“We have these investment friends there and we saw Brooks to be active. Before we went in for Brooks, as a finance man you need three year financial statement to know how they are performing,” and proceeded to show Daily Guide 2013, 2014 and 2015 financial statements from Brooks endorsed by Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

“Brooks has a cash flow problem”he admitted when he was asked if he was aware the private firm was going through problems, saying “we relied on the regulator. The regulator had sanctioned it meaning it is correct.”

“They have a cashflow problem and I have written to the regulator (SEC) asking them to investigate Brooks because it was based on the regulator’s stamp that gave us the comfort.”

Investment Policy
“Council said we should make investment policy and the policy was that we should make 75% investment into investment banks and 25% into commercial banks. McOatley, Legacy and Brooks form part of the investment banks.”

The Finance Director said “we have people here who have their investments with Brooks so that gave us the comfort. When I went online to check their board of directors, the Director of Finance of a prominent university was there and that gave us the comfort.”

Recovery Effort
“We were told at SEC that they used short term investment for long term. That is their problem. And the former management had all left and they have brought a new team that is recovering the money. It is not that the money is lost they are working on it,” adding “I am telling you on authority that we are retrieving this money. Everything is coming!”

He said that “we have recovered some money. We have times that we make the payments. We did not make onetime payment. We invested in bits of GH¢200,000 and the rest. We invested in three months periods.”

He said “if the auditors come today I will be able to prove that the council gave us approval to invest the excess money. The approval should reflect in the minutes.”

He dismissed allegations that they had invested a loan of GH¢5 million loan they took from Zenith Bank to construct a lecture hall for the university saying “it was GH¢5 million and not GH¢2.8 million as they claimed.”

“It is GetFund that will pay for the cost of the project but if you don’t start they will not give you the money. That’s why council gave approval that they should take the loan to start the project.”




WINNEBA UNIVERSITY CLOSED DOWN

By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The University of Education, Winneba (UEW) has been closed down following a high court order.

The decision by the authorities to close down the state-funded university was confirmed in a news release issued by the registry of the university yesterday.

With this interim injunction, all the university’s campuses at Winneba, Kumasi, Ajumako and Mampong-Ashanti are not supposed to operate until Friday, June 16, following the ruling by Justice Ato Graves-Mills of the Winneba High Court that some actions taken by the school’s council were illegal.

“In line with the decision of the court, the members of the University Community, comprising UTAG executives, Deans, Heads of Department, and representatives of Senior Members, therefore decided to shut down the University until Friday, 16th June, 2017, when the substantive case will be heard,” the registry said.

It said that “the decision has arisen as a result of implementing the judge’s directive that the Principal Officers of the University be restrained from working until Friday, 16th June, 2017, and also the fact that other management members, Principals, Deans and Deputy Registrars were appointed by the Council which authority is being challenged.”

The facts of the case are that a former assemblyman for Donkoryiem, Supi Kofi Kwayera, sued the university and joined the Ministry of Education for allegedly extending the university’s Governing Council’s tenure.

The plaintiff had accused the Governing Council of allegedly misappropriating the funds of the university after the expiration of two terms in 2013.

As a result, the plaintiff is seeking a declaration that the extension of the mandate of the Governing Council of the 1st respondent by the 2nd respondent to stay in office to perform such functions as a properly appointed council was in breach of Section 8 Act 672, a further declaration that all decisions taken by the defacto body of persons who constituted themselves as Governing Council is null and void and of no effect. A declaration that the contracts awarded to Sparkxx Gh Ltd, Paabadu Construction and C-Deck, were done in breach of the Procurement Act (Act 663).

Supi Kofi Kwayera also wants another declaration that all payments made to Lamas Ltd were done without the express written consent of the Ghana Highway Authority, and in breach of the Memorandum of Understanding, and same must be refunded.

A declaration that the illegally appointed Principal Officers of the 1st respondent willfully misappropriated public funds by failing to put to public tender for the construction of the North campus road and thereby causing financial loss to the state.

The suit comes months after the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu, Alex Afenyo Markin - who is representing the plaintiff in the case - called for the immediate withdrawal of thousands of certificates issued by the university since 2013.

The MP, according to Citi FM – an Accra-based radio station -argued that those certificates and degrees had been invalidated by the fact that an “illegal” University Council caused them to be issued without proper legal authority.

The plaintiff, represented by Afenyo-Markin, MP for Effutu Constituency, where the University is located, had his reliefs upheld by the court, pending the determination of the case on Friday.

The university is being represented by Sampson Gura, who is contesting the issues raised by the plaintiff.