18.08.2022 Feature Article

Of Sucklings And Old Fuddy Duddies

Of Sucklings And Old Fuddy Duddies
18.08.2022 LISTEN

“The fight against corruption should be left in the hands of government alone” Alfred Tuah – Yeboah, Deputy Attorney – General and Minister of Justice

COLONEL KWADWO DAMOAH is a good friend. Both of us were victims of the NDC's unconscionable act when our careers were curtailed in our various professions under Atta-Mills' NDC government – for various unexplained reasons. We were not cowed, we moved on. But the good old Colonel Damoah was luckier he caught Akufo-Addo, the President's eye, and the red carpet was laid for him and from the Armed Forces. He landed a cool job at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, in May, 2019.

Between 2005 and 2009, he was in charge of recruitment into the Ghana Armed Forces. He had served as the Financial Comptroller of the Ghana Armed Forces; commanded a platoon for internal security operations at Bawku and Tamale Airborne Force; served as a peace-keeper in Lebanon (GHANBATT 29 and GHANBATT 39) (1987 and 1993 respectively). He had been the honourable recipient of the prestigious Long Service and Good Conduct Award of the Ghana Armed Forces and UN Peace Keeping. Beautiful credentials, unavailable in the Ghana Customs! He could be approaching 65, but still going strong, with his contract renewed for two times (?)already.

The whizz kid, Kissi Agyebeng, who had dutifully taken up the challenge of Special Prosecutor at the age of 43 years, three years older than the Presidential age of 40, as per Article 62 of the 1992 Constitution.

The Special Prosecutor had passed out of the Ghana School of Law in 2003, with a B.L having won the Bentsi–Enchill Award for Best Graduating Law Student in 2001 and the EN Sowah Memorial Award for Best Student in Family Law. In 2005, he graduated from the Dailhousie with a Master's degree in Marine and Environmental Law; another Master's degree in Banking, Corporate, Finance Law in Cornell University. On his return to Ghana, he lectured at the Regional Maritime University at Nungua, Mountcrest University College, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, the University of Ghana. He was a partner of Cromwell Gray LLP and the chairman of the Electronic Communications Tribunal.

When the Office of Special Prosecutor was established under the Special Prosecutor Act 2017 (Act 959), Martin Amidu was hailed as the best man for the job, but the good fellow resigned under bizarre circumstances on 16th November, 2021. The search fell on Kissi Agyebeng.

He took up the challenge, he has kept faith to his calling and we doubt if he would call his appointer “the mother serpent of corruption”.

A week or so ago, a report was issued by the Office of Special Prosecutor, dated 3rd August, 2022: A reading of the report shows: “There is strong evidence to suggest that Mr. Adu Kyei's decision to issue a Customs advance ruling for the applicant was processed through influence peddling or trading of influence by Ms. Asomah–Hinney, who employed her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the GPHA…”

Then, in a tone that smacked of argumentum ad hominem, a fierce –looking Col. Damoah made nonsense of the report: “God is always on my side. Before that report came, that person had made a statement to some people that he was going to publish something that will discredit me … I even sent people to go and tell him that he is a small boy, I am older than him (he is) … if he attempts to destroy me, it won't be easy for him. People have tried it (and) I have survived, and this one too, I will survive…”

Col Damoah claimed the SP had targeted him because he had blocked Albert Akurugu from being seconded to him: “He (SP) calls me to his office …and at the end of (the discussion) he talks to me about the same matter and… (I say) he will not be released to you, he will be in Customs and then behind me (Akurugu) goes to resign and he is given the position of Commissioner of Police and he is now with your office and he goes to make allegation that Mr. Adu–Kyei and myself, we hate him and they will deal with us,” Why mention Crentsil and others enjoying their pension?

“Speech is silvern; silence is golden” is a popular dictum. Is Kissi Agyebeng a “small boy” – and all the allegations! “Small in age?” “Small in social standing?” “Small in the metaphysical world?” Section 12 of the Customs Act 2015, Act 891 states: “The Commissioner – General may issue a written ruling applying the customs law to a particular set of facts… (3) The ruling may relate to the tariff classification, customs value, country of origin of the goods… (4) An interested party may request for a Customs ruling from the Commissioner–General …

Who would not pity the Customs staff at the meeting in which “their” Commissioner took a tirade at the SP: “(we) have resolved to throw our unflinching support behind Col. Damoah (Rtd) to continue as the Commissioner especially in these difficult periods when the country is in dire need of revenue … The OSP report is misconceived and is borne out of such misconception… There is nothing wrong with the approvals made by the Commissioner since such approvals accord with Customs laws and established procedures in force… “And the Chamber of Freight and Trade does “shadow boxing”, describing the SP's report as “give a dog a bad name and hang it…” In a rejoinder signed by its President, Dennis Amfo Sefah, the chamber notes: “… as a country we shouldn't be quick to destroy and bring down indigenous Ghanaian companies which are doing well in both tax payment and employment generation.” Need we remind readers the agonies of the local poultry industrialists like Darko Farms, with all these unnecessary waivers and exemptions? Kudos to the Ahanta chiefs, led by Nana Kofi Etsin II Divisional Chief of Ahanta Aboade, for solidarising with one of their own. BUT they should be careful not to wade into uncharted waters: Noble advice, given gratis.

Listen to the GRA Board: “…the comments made by the Commissioner of the Customs Division, Col Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd)… on the outcomes of the investigation were made in his personal capacity and do not convey the opinion of the board and management of GRA… in August, 2021 the authority took firm steps to deal with practices or procedures that had the potential of reducing or not giving maximum value to transactions… a directive in December, 2021 that with immediate effect, no discounts or rebates are given on items or products at importation and to cancel all existing approved discount…” The GRA could have gone ahead and recommended that a Customs officer is likely to give of his best when a Commissioner is selected from the rank of the staff, otherwise they would not like to be accused of “not being smart” like us.

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Africanus Owusu – Ansah