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24.04.2008 Politics

Why Amoako Tuffuor was fired *Local Govt Ministry instituted audit last November *Sacking not linked to CJA demand, says Oboshie

By The Statesman

Kwame Amoako Tuffuor, the Executive Chairman of the Ghana School Feeding Programme has been relieved of his post, The Statesman can confirm.

Speaking to The Statesman yesterday, Oboshie Sai Cofie, Information and National Orientation Minister, said the dismissal letter was signed by Local Government Minister Kwadwo Adjei-Darko at the personal direction of President John Agyekum Kufuor.

The Information Minister disclosed that the decision was based on the outcome of two reports of committees set up by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development last November to do an audit of the Programme's activities, with a view to streamlining its operations. A third report, submitted by a committee headed by the Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, which also brought up issues of abuse, was the final nail in the coffin.

The detection of the malfeasance, the Information Minister said, was ample evidence of the proper working of the Financial Administration system, including the Public Procurement Law. As a result of the safeguards in the system, it was only a matter of time, in this case last November, before any malfeasance was detected, she added.

Giving a background to the events that led to Dr Amoako Tuffuor losing his job, Mrs Coffie said a committee of inquiry set up to do a thorough headcount of the number of pupils enrolled, the names and numbers of food suppliers, kitchen staff, equipment among others, raised concern about alleged improprieties in the operations of the SFP.

Following this development, the Local Government Minister tasked the Ministry's internal audit section to undertake a comprehensive review of the programme.

Mrs Coffie said the two investigative bodies found "many significant wrongdoings" with the SFP and, in line with established administrative practices, Dr Amoako Tuffuor, as head of the programme was fired. "It just coincided with the CJA's agitation for his removal," she insisted.

She, however, explained that no adverse findings have so far been made against the person of Dr Amoako Tuffuor but assured that government will not condone any criminality that may occur in the course of investigations.

Meanwhile, Dr Amoako Tuffuor has filed a writ at an Accra High Court against some leading members of the Committee for Joint Action on the grounds that the pressure group through media publications have sought to defame and defamed his reputation and character.

Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Journalist and Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper; Ama Benyiwa Doe, Women's Organiser of the National Democratic Congress; Ato Ahwoi, a leading member of both the NDC and CJA, and Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, a member of the CJA, are the defendants.

The former Feeding Programme boss is seeking general damages and a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from making any further defamatory statements against him.

The CJA, at a press conference about a fortnight ago, outlined a number of alleged malpractices and what they described as "rot" at the SFP and since then the group has been calling for the removal of Dr Tufour. The committee also laid corruption charges against Dr Tuffuor following an audit report by Price WaterHouse Coopers.

A section of the media, led by the Insight newspaper, also mounted pressure on the government to sack the SFP boss.

Meanwhile, Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central, has described the removal of Dr Tufour as a welcome development but suggested that further investigations ought to be carried out to ascertain how the tax payers' money has been spent on the national programme.

The MP alleges that ¢250 billion has so far been released to the secretariat of the SFP since 2005 when it started the implementation of the programme nation wide.

By slarge

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