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04.02.2009 Regional News

Investigations into sale of unwholesome food items at BolgaCommittee Report out, storekeeper suspended


THE COMMITTEE inaugurated on August 20 last year to investigate the sale of unwholesome food items at the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), to some members of the public, has finally released its report on the findings, with the suspension of the storekeeper.

The setting up of the Evans Klustse Committee became necessary, after it became public that some maize and rice, meant for the various district assemblies in the region, were being sold to unsuspecting consumers in the Bolgatanga municipality, after it had gone bad.

Mr. Evans Klutse, Bolgatanga Zonal Commander of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) who is also the Chairman of the Committee, and his members, were tasked among other things, to investigate the circumstances that led to the sale of the unwholesome items, how they got onto the market, and who the beneficiaries of the items were.

According to the Chief Director of the RCC, Mr. Samuel N'lanry, who presented a statement on the report at a press conference in Bolgatanga recently, the committee used face-to-face interviews and cross-examination of witnesses, physical inspection of items in the RCC store, and information from secondary or documentary data.

The individuals, who were interviewed, included the President of Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), Bismarck Adongo, the Principal Storekeeper, who was only named as Lizzy, some members of RCC staff who bought the items, and the Chief Director.

The findings of the committee were that the maize and some rice, declared unwholesome, were sold by the storekeeper without authority from any of her superiors.

None of the unwholesome food items was sold on the market for human consumption, thus all who bought them were adequately informed that they were not good for human consumption, but only for livestock and poultry. The said maize was not part of the consignment of food items brought in 2007, to mitigate the sufferings of victims of the flood disaster.

The rest were poor management of the RCC stores, due to the incompetence of the storekeeper; the storekeeper lacked the practical and requisite experience to manage the RCC stores independently; there was an element of collusion between the storekeeper and Mr. Charles Ayando, one of the beneficiaries of the sale of the food items, and finally, the outgoing Regional Minister, Mr. Alhassan Samari, was not aware of the presence of the unwholesome food items in the stores, as at the time the first press conference was held on the matter.

In its recommendations, the committee was of the view that the action of the storekeeper, (Lizzy), was very grievous, and this had tarnished the reputation of the RCC, especially the outgoing Regional Minister and the Chief Director.

The committee stated that in line with the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants, her behaviour constituted gross misconduct, which could attract the severest penalty, being dismissal.

However, the committee tempering justice with mercy, and taking into account her newness into the Civil Service without adequate orientation and training, has recommended that she should be given 14 days suspension with the commensurate loss of pay, be posted out of the RCC to work under a more experienced officer in the Stores and Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

The committee also took a serious view the poor management of the RCC stores, and recommended that a more experienced storekeeper be posted to take charge of the stores, and quarterly stocktaking should also be done.

The Klutse Committee further recommended that the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) should be tasked to conduct further investigations into the issue, and anyone found culpable, should be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the country.

Conspicuously missing at the press conference, were most key members of the committee, including its Chairman In its White Paper, the RCC stated that Mr. Samari had accepted the report of the Committee, and directed that its recommendations be implemented.

All who bought the maize, including the NORPRA President, were told in advance by the storekeeper that they were not good for human consumption, but only for poultry and livestock.

“If, in spite of all these warnings to the buyers, they still sent some of the maize to the market to sell for human consumption, it is they, not the RCC, who should be held responsible. That is why in addition to the work of the committee, the RCC wrote to the BNI to investigate this other aspect of the matter,” the RCC stated.