The government has denied claims by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that it has spent some $6.8 million on private investigations aimed at nailing appointees of the erstwhile John Mahama government.
According to the NDC, although state agencies such as the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) are already probing some former appointees, the government paid some private firms to do the same job at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
Reacting to this claim among others in a press conference, Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa, Director of Communications of the NPP, said: “The government did not spend $6.8 million on the audits as has been deliberately and falsely put out. The UNDP only provided technical assistance to the office coordinating the audits. This is in line with section 3 (f) of the EOCO Act. The technical support from the UNDP is part of their anti-corruption support and governance project and costs less than a $100,000.00. The mention of U.S.$6.8 m is a total red herring aimed at diverting attention from the substantive findings of the forensic audit and the genuine questions that persons found culpable have to answer as part of investigative processes.
Below is the full statement from the NPP’s presser
PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY (NPP) TO SET THE RECORDS STRAIGHT ON THE MISINFORMATION PEDDLED BY THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) ABOUT FORENSIC AUDITS OF SELECTED INSTITUTIONS
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, friends of the media fraternity.
We are grateful for your response to the short notice asking you to be with us this afternoon. We are compelled to invite you to correct the deliberate falsehoods put out by the NDC General Secretary Mr. Asiedu Nketia yesterday 2/10/2018 about the forensic audit of some institutions.
It appears Mr Asiedu Nketia was on a mission to make noise and hopefully boost his reportedly flagging campaign for re-election. Otherwise, no logical explanation comes easily to mind for his antics exhibited in a full-blown press conference, followed up with numerous media appearances.
This is because the speculative half-truths and outright lies concocted in the pot of his febrile imagination could easily have been verified from the relevant sources. One of the biggest lies told by the NDC General Secretary was that His Excellency the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in visiting flood victims to distribute relief items, used a helicopter from the Ghana National Gas Company. Lie, big lie.
On the contrary, the Vice President used a Ghana Air Force Helicopter with identity mark GHF 696. That craft is totally different in make and model from the “Z-9EH” model craft that the Ghana National Gas Company is purported to have purchased and which acquisition is the subject of a forensic audit.
But perhaps, there is a real reason the NDC is attempting to misinform the public. Is the NDC seeking to pre-empt the results of ongoing forensic audits with shameless cries of witch-hunting in order to protect itself from accountability?
Short of seeking to circumvent and prevent the law from taking its course, it beats the imagination why the NDC is rushing to discredit investigations which are yet to feed into potential prosecutions. This is the same party which barely recently boasted and challenged the whole world to prosecute them if they were found to be corrupt.
What has changed now that there is a realisation of serious ongoing investigations to ensure successful prosecutions?
The facts of the forensic audit are as has been put out already by the Ministry of Information. For emphasis, permit me to restate them here.
1. In 2017, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), in pursuit of its mandate under section 3 (a) of the EOCO Act of 2010, (Act 804), and in accordance with section 14 (3) of Act 804, engaged experts to conduct preliminary audits and advice EOCO on reports of corruption and malpractices in some state organizations. The reports had been channelled through the cabinet ad-hoc committee on investigations.
2. The Government did not spend $6.8 Million USD on the audits as has been deliberately and falsely put out. The UNDP only provided technical assistance to the office coordinating the audits. This is in line with section 3(f) of the EOCO Act. The technical support from the UNDP is part of their anti-corruption support and governance project and costs less than a $100,000.00. The mention of $6.8M USD is a total red herring aimed at diverting attention from the substantive findings of the forensic audit and the genuine questions that persons found culpable have to answer as part of investigative processes.
Please note that the institutions involved are paying for the forensic audits. It would serve the public well if Mr Asiedu Nketia could be humble enough to apologise for bringing the UNDP and the Government into disrepute on the basis of a wild reckless guess, or at least reveal his source. Otherwise, we humbly plead with him to hold his horses and rein in the reckless and misguided pronouncements. Rumour mongering cannot be a substitute for information and facts.
3. EOCO, having been advised, has completed reports of some of the investigations whilst others are ongoing. We hope the blanket call to appointees of the former administration not to cooperate with investigations will not be followed literally because a pre-emptive attempt to escape accountability under a screaming smokescreen of witch-hunting will not convince the Ghanaian public.
The public deserves to see the constitutional standard of probity and accountability upheld by appointees of the former administration. Those who conducted themselves well ought not to be afraid of accountability measures.
4. The Akufo-Addo Administration will continue to strengthen anti-corruption agencies as part of concrete efforts to rid the Ghanaian system off corruption.
5. Respondents should be eager to provide answers to the substantive findings in the audit reports in order to clear their names and reputations rather than seek to hide behind a public relations exercise designed to obfuscate issues and avoid accountability.
Please note moreover, that the institutions involved.
The NPP applauds the Government. As a party in Government, we hold the view that having come this far on the path of constitutional governance, it is not enough to shout corruption. Hard evidence must be found and adduced through the due process if we are to tackle the menace of corruption with sincerity.
In the same vein, we do not expect self-respecting servants of any Government, to resort to polemic stunts aimed at the diligent interrogation of their tenures of office since such actions will not and cannot stop appropriate accountability measures.
We hope Mr Asiedu Nketia is not allergic to facts. In any case, who is he trying to shield from the flames of accountability? Is it the entire Mahama Administration or characters thick in the purported plots to create, loot and share? Schemes to create, loot and share have been allegedly so well executed that many contracts inherited by the current administration appear lawful but in effect are bloated well beyond value for money limits.
In conclusion, we wish to state our revulsion at the personal attacks on the person of Professor Edward Dua Agyeman. Nearly half of the NDC’s press conference was devoted to casting aspersions on Dua Agyemang. Further appearances on various media by Asiedu Nketia followed the same trend. We can only hope that the gentleman resorts to the appropriate quarters in defence of his name but we are also constrained to urge him fervently not to relent in his service to the nation.
We do not intend to go down the path of contestation about the role of the Auditor General, an invitation unnecessarily flagged. It is unnecessary because neither the constitution nor the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) is a barrier to the conduct of forensic investigations by agencies clothed with investigatory and or prosecutorial powers.
As to the assertion recognising the existence of cognate institutions of state with investigative powers, we say thanks but no thanks. You had your chance and you chose to misgovern in supreme and blissful incompetence.
Please allow us to fulfil our compact with the Ghanaian people with serious diligence, using the best means at our disposal to serve the interests of Ghanaians in ensuring accountability and responsiveness to the duty of upholding the public trust.
Thank you for your attention and support.
Yaw Buaben Asamoa, Esq. MP
Director of Communications, NPP.