Hackman Owusu-Agyemang may be forgiven for being on cloud nine following the formal launch of his flagbearership campaign Tuesday, which drew a very large crowd. A cursory glance at the picture below might even serve as further evidence of the man's popularity, and his joy.
But a closer look at the caption below the picture will likely cause the New Juaben North MP to clutch his head in anguish.
The NPP aspirant, as well as The Statesman are the latest unwitting victims of scams involving the use of images and/or addresses of public figures to bilk unsuspecting people of large sums of money.
According to Kil Chung, a businessman in the United States of America, someone sent him this as evidence of the Government of Ghana's preparedness to help him retrieve monies supposedly owed him by the African Union.
A story supposedly on The Statesman's website, written by a Ellen Nbuna Asase is offered as 'evidence' of Mr Owusu-Agyemang's ability to help Mr Chung retrieve the funds.
In the story, the former Water Resources, Works and Housing Minister is identified as Jose Jacquere, "the director of Projects in the Societe Beninoise de Gaz S.A a government corporation in the Republic of Benin,” who is visiting Ghana as part of a seven nation tour to “support the government of Benin to pressurize the African Union to release the embargo held on a contract payment from Benin to Mr Kil Chung a contractor from the United States.”
It reads in part: “Yesterday was a happy day for the Ghanaians when they welcome one of the Africans foremost civil servants to Ghana. The event took place at the Ghana parade ground in Ghana. Those who came to welcome Mr Jose Jacquere are top Government functionaries, senior civil servants, members of the parliament, the judiciary and well wishers.
"The Minister of communication read the address from the President who was not around for official reasons.In his speech the President welcome Mr Jose Jacquere to Ghana and promised the support of Ghana to Benin.”
In reality, the picture is one of Mr Owusu-Agyemang dancing to cheers from his supporters as he went to the NPP's headquarters to pick up his nomination forms, which he has since filed.
The Statesman has no reporter called Ellen Nbuna Asase. Indeed, due to technical reasons, the paper did not appear on the newsstands on the day in question (September 27), though a short story on Mr Owusu-Agyemang's filing the previous day was posted on the site.
Dismissing Mr Chung's initial query about the veracity of the report as spam (unsolicited mail), officials of this paper were forced toact after the queries persisted, demandaing proof of the said story.
Mr Chung sent us a scanned copy of the story supposedly posted on our website, that had been sent to him. Informed that the story was a fake, Mr Chung has since ceased to communicate with this paper, even though we have asked for further information on how the material got to him.
An examination of the offending article revealed that it had been superimposed on a redesigned background of the site, after the original article had been cropped out.
Attempts to reach Mr Owusu-Agyemang for comment proved futile, but a source close to the aspirant told this paper it was not the first time scammers had attempted, and in some cases succeeded in duping people using the former acting Interior Minister's name, or a ministry he headed.
Below is the unedited 'story' allegedly carried by The Statesman.
Ghanaians welcomes Jose Jacquere to Ghana
Ellen Nbuna Asase
Yesterday was a happy day for the Ghanaians when they welcome one of the Africans foremost civil servants to Ghana. The event took place at the Ghana parade ground in Ghana.
Those who came to welcome Mr Jose Jacquere are top Government functionaries, senior civil servants, members of the parliament, the judiciary and well wishers.
The Minister of communication read the address from the President who was not around for official reasons. In his speech the President welcome Mr Jose Jacquere to Ghana and promised the support of Ghana to Benin.
According to State House correspondent, Mr Jose Jacquere's visit to Ghana is the beginning of his seven countries tour to support the government of Benin to pressurize the African Union to release the embargo held on a contract payment from Benin to Mr Kil Chung a contractor from the United States of America (emphasis his).
Statesman has investigated the said contract and found out that the contract payment has been paid but the African Union stopped the payment because of a petition filed by Maitre Lambert Yekpe on behalf of Hon Adrien Houngbedji [a former Prime Minister and President of Benin's National Assembly]. The said petition was heard in African Union Legal Section Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the 19th day of March, 2007.
In reference to the African Union letter dated 12th March, 2007 with Reference No: AU/LD/PTN/BN/012/675/07 signed by Mr Roger Salla Ntounga on behalf of President John Kufuor, President of Ghana who is the current African Union Chairman, the secret payment pact was queried and the payment stopped.
Our senior correspondent with the African Union headquarters confirmed yesterday that the African Union refused to issue clearance certificate to enable the release of fund because the beneficiary must process the International Monetary Transaction Certificate (IMTC). The fee for the settlement and issuance of IMTC is about $344,940.00.
Mr Jose Jacquere is the director of Projects in the Societe Beninoise de Gaz S.A a government corporation in the Republic of Benin. He is one of the Africa's foremost intellectuals and have contributed immensely to the over all development of positive policies in Africa.
He served as a senior adviser during the regime of the former President of Benin before his appointment as the director of Projects a position he has held to this moment. He is due for retirement and has not tendered his retirement letter. Information reaching The Statesman from Benin said that his health condition is not too good as a result of a heart problem.
The Statesman is yet to find out the result of his visit whether he will be able to convince the President to influence the African Union to release payment without full payment of the IMTC.
This will be very difficult task because for him to achieve result he must convince at least two thirds of the members of the African Union represented by their Presidents. Looking into the African Union Charter, Chapter XIV article 40 paragraph 2, it will be a difficult resolution.
But one school of thought says that Mr Jose Jacquere might be able to reverse the decision of the African Union to release the fund to the contractor by convincing two thirds of the members while another school of thought said that reversing the African Union Charter is a very difficult matter which will affect the African Union Act. Whatever the result may be The Statesman will be watching to inform our numerous readers.
Mr Jose Jacquere is expected to leave Accra to Burkina Faso tomorrow morning."