UPPER-LEVEL MANAGEMENT'S SILENCES AND VIRULENT INSTITUTIONAL FRAUD AT THE NATIONAL LANDS CMMISION
Hamidu Baryeh's recent response to my claims of official fraud at the National Lands Commission, which appeared in the Public Agenda newspapers dated 14th November, 2005, did little to unravel the extensity of official corruption at the Commission over which he presides as Executive Secretary. While I appreciate Mr. Baryeh's response to the probative issues raised in my letter which called into question his effectiveness as Executive Secretary, his evasive and vague responses on the existence of an official criminal network at the Commission requires further investigative scrutiny.
Mr. Baryeh's conjecture that I bought my land in 2003 without explicitly stating June as the month of purchase and processing underscores the shield of vagueness and the normative concealment of probative facts which gloss over the depth of rot in his department. Mr. Baryeh's weak rationalization of the unpardonable, typified by his lack of clarity on chronology and basic facts, explains the reinforcement of official criminality at the Commission.
For reason of basic argument, if my document was processed in June 2003 with the registration number AR/4647/2003, how practical and feasible was it for the Commission to have processed Roger Amudzi's information after he claimed that he bought the said land in August 2003? Secondly who was responsible for the deletion of my information and registration and the insertion of Roger Amudzi's information on the official search records? Logic supports the primary presupposition that the first processor of the document in June 2003 with serial registration number
AR/4647/2003 is the rightful owner and not Roger Amudzi, who on official Lands records registered my land twice (in 1995 and in August 2003). Mr. Baryeh's selection of 2003 without touching on 1995 when Roger Amudzi claims to have bought the land and which is supported by falsified search records at the Commission's Records Department, raises questions about Mr. Baryeh's credibility and effectiveness as Executive Secretary at the National Lands Commission.
Mr. Baryeh's written response was that the Commission requested I withdraw my documents from processing, despite evidence that Roger Amudzi acquired my property under false pretences and with the collusion of certain Lands officials. This fact is supported by Roger Amudzi's indenture, which bears forged official signatures without their full names and official status. If this practice is not an affirmation of upper-level complicity in an extensive fraud scheme at the Commission, then what is? I would like to entreat Mr. Baryeh to tell the nation how practical is his contention that in the course processing my document in June 2003, Lands officials detected that the same land had been plotted in the name of Roger Amudzi, who supposedly bought his land in August 2003. Mr. Baryeh must be confused with the sequence of months in a year.
I would like to inform him that June 2003 predated August 2003.
Despite Mr. J.E.K. Dadson's (the Regional Land Commissioner) directives that a hold be put on any further processing of Roger Amudzi's documents until an investigative determination had been made, Roger Amudzi continued to enjoy soothing welcomes and official embraces at the Commission. This was in spite of a written request by the Commission to the police to locate Roger Amudzi and seize his forged documents. Using his official criminal networks at the Records and Technical Departments, Roger Amudzi was able to bypass standard preventative protocol at the Commission and conveyed ownership of my land to Richard Osae-Duodu, his financier. As one of their basic criminal prerequisites, Roger Amudzi and Osae-Duodu used their falsified official documents which “legitimized” them as the bona fide owners of my land. They sought and were granted an interlocutory injunction against me at the High Court by Judge Kobena Acquaye. Osae-Duodu lied in his court affidavit, claiming that he had already built a house to roofing level on my land. In actual fact, he was in the process of transporting building materials to the land and laying the first blocks in the foundation, a fact which I have pictorial documentary evidence to support. Osae-Duodu's perjury before the court was to give the apearance of an innocent purchaser and seek the provision Article 2. Besides my case, Roger Amudzi and Osae-Duodu have used similar methods to deprive one Mr. Aryittey at Accra Polytechnic, Department of Mechanical Engineering of his land. Currently, Roger Amudzi is facing criminal prosecution at Accra Circuit Court “B”, Cocoa Affairs over the theft of land which rightfully belonged to M.A. Osei and the Greater Accra Regional Public Tribunal for grand larceny.
Mr. Baryeh's claim that the Commission initiated the police investigation is inaccurate. I personally initiated the process with a petition to Nana Owusu-Nsiah (the former Inspector General of Police) after failed attempts by the Accra Central Criminal Investigations Department and the Striking Force to restrain Osae-Duodu from proceeding with the development on my land. Mr. Baryeh's claim that those who were involved in the forgery would be prosecuted is false. After the detection of official fraud, Mr. Baryeh has vehemently shielded said officials from investigative scrutiny. According to Mr. Patrick Ampewuah of the Criminal Investigations Division, the Commission has refused to honour the CID's request for the four (4) technical officers to face questioning and criminal prosecution. Mr. Baryeh's credibility will be tested in the coming weeks with another letter from the police to rein in the four technical officers.
I would also like to question Mr. Baryeh's commitment to justice. Around July 2005, Mr. Baryeh personally witnessed the arrest of persons on the Commission's property who had in their possession falsified indentures, official documents, ink pads and the Commission's stamps. Not only did Mr. Baryeh fail to make follow-ups to ensure their criminal prosecution, he failed to disclose the arrest to the Ministry. When asked to give the names of the investigating officers, their station, and the date and time of arrest, Mr. Baryeh declined. Instead, he extolled his personal virtues as an astute civil servant. Mr. Baryeh's mindset of “all is well until it stinks or stings” not only supports a culture of quid pro quo, but also erodes the public's confidence in the Commission.
Mr. Baryeh's claim that the police called on the Commission for clarification of certain information is equally problematic. According to Patrick Ampewuah, he made a written request to the Commission to release the four technical officers for questioning, which the Commission declined. By failing to release the officers for questioning and withholding documents that bore the names of the suspects, Mr. Baryeh shielded suspects, suborned corruption and obstructed fundamental justice. By ignoring 1995 and stating 2003 as the year that Roger Amudzi purchased and processed the land, Mr. Baryeh misled the police in their investigation and put forward the Commission's official version which defended, excused and rationalized official fraudulence. If said technical officers made honest mistakes in the processing of documents, as Mr. Baryeh alleges, then he must go on record to explain the following: (i) how could trained officials register the same land twice (1995 and August 2003) without any inkling of criminality and false acquisition of property, (ii) why did Mr. Baryeh, after the fact, call for “disciplinary action” to be “meted out to the officers” for conducting “themselves in an unprofessional manner?” (iii) at what point did Mr. Baryeh re-evaluate to determine that the actions of said officers were criminal, an act which he fiercely defended as an honest mistake and therefore have no need for disciplinary action and (iv) what committee was set up to accord such a measure?
While Mr. Baryeh touts Carl Reindorf's return to the country to give testimony at Accra High Court and the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal as crucial, it came with great financial cost to me (i.e. flying a key witness home from Europe). Why should I bear the financial brunt of corrupt technical officials who demonstrated little technicality and moral conscience in the performance of their functions, but instead colluded with the thieves of my property and the falsification of official records without upper-level intervention?
Mr. Baryeh's concept of behaviour-altering disciplinary action is parochial at best, especially in an environment which he administers as a personal fiefdom and coaxes institutional deviance. While the Commission has its own Disciplinary Committee, as Mr. Baryeh claims, grand larceny is beyond the administrative purview of the Commission.
Criminal misdemeanour should be accorded the seriousness it deserves by allowing the criminal justice system to interpret and assess its social impact and apportion punishment as prescribed by law. In my opinion, disciplinary measures, such as retaining corrupt officials, rewards criminality. It also stifles the nation's effort to build an investor-friendly climate. The “Baryehs” of the nation and their toleration for and defence of fraud threatens national development and institutional competency. I think the nation cannot sustain the “Baryehs”, who are a liability to institutional competency and a barrier to the restoration of public confidence in state agencies. Like many other corrupt and resources-gulping institutions, Mr. Baryeh presides over devious institutions that co-ordinate legitimately prescribed official functions with the criminal underworld of Roger Amudzi and Richard Osae-Duodu. Crime as a rational calculus is motivated by cost-and-benefit analysis. Institutional inadequacies are strengthened by a dastardly upper-level machinery that protects and sustains criminal enterprises, which in turn creates incentives and opportunities for upper-level management and external criminal coalitions.
Mr. Baryeh's “cosmetic” approach to official criminality is a pin-prick, rewarding criminality and revictimizing the aggrieved party. To continue to retain the four technical officers, as Mr. Baryeh graciously contends in his letter, does not neutralize criminal dispositions should future criminal opportunities arise. I therefore recommend that Hamidu Ibrahim Baryeh resign or be relieved of his duties. His resignation or dismissal would give way to an effective replacement, one who understands the blunt force of justice and is willing to apply it with fear or favour. I would also like to entreat the Minister of Interior, the Attorney General, the Director of Bureau of National Investigations and the Serious Fraud Office to investigate operations at the Commission. I hope that my ordeal will give impetus to other victims to challenge the normative culture of official fraud in state institutions, particularly the National Lands Commission. I also welcome the role of the media to give air time for discussion on systemic. “All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men and woman to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.