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04.02.2009 General News

Parliamentary roasting awaits nominees… At Appointments Committee

By Charles Takyi-Boadu - Ghanaian Chronicle

Even before they make their maiden appearance before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for consideration, issues have started popping up on four of the President's nominees, including the likes of Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni and Sherry Ayittey.

Members of the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), led by Accra-based legal practitioner, Godfred Dame, have raised concerns over the nominations and possible approval of the Ministers-designate by Parliament.

They have thus tabled a petition before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, to, not only block, but revoke the nomination of the aforementioned individuals for ministerial positions.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the leadership of AFAG noted that the actions, conduct and behaviour of the said Ministers-designate, reeked of disdain and conscious disregard for the basic laws of the country, since according to them, it has brought them into public disregard.

They recalled how a forensic audit report, commissioned by the Auditor-General in the year 2004, into the operations of the National Vocational and Technical Institute (NVTI), made specific findings of financial improprieties, corruption and fraud against Alhaji Mumuni during his days at the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, under the Rawlings National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime.

“It is remarkable that those findings were to the effect that through the gross negligence of Alhaji Mumuni, the state had lost a colossal ¢15 billion (old cedis) through his involvement with the NVTI alone,” they emphasised.

They further noted that the former Minister was found to have authorised the fraudulent release of amounts in excess of ¢19 billion from the Consolidated Fund, into undisclosed accounts.

To them, the fact that no punitive measures or criminal proceedings had not been instituted against Alhaji Mumuni, based on the report, was immaterial, since any future Attorney General could institute criminal proceedings against the Minister of Foreign Affairs-designate.

Mr. Dame, who was flanked by other members of AFAG, including the likes of Abeiku Dickson, Jojo Essel Cobbinah and Arnold Boateng, also raised issues with certain decisions taken by Alhaji Mumuni during his stint at the Ministry of the Interior during the transition, acting as the Representative of President Mills.

At a time when he had not been nominated by the President, they noted that the nominee dismissed the lawfully appointed head of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), and further extended his tentacles to the Ministry of Roads and Transport, to remove the acting head of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).

They also questioned the authority with which Alhaji Mumuni imposed curfews in certain parts of the country, when he had not appeared before Parliament for prior approval.

“We think that for Alhaji Mumuni to engage in such palpable violations of the 1992 Constitution, he is unfit to be nominated by His Excellency the President to be a Minister of State, and also protect and defend the same 1992 Constitution,” they emphasised.

In the case of Sherry Ayittey, AFAG noted that grave and adverse findings of financial impropriety, fraudulent behaviour and forgery had been made against her in an audit report of the Auditor-General.

Ms. Ayittey was the trustee of the 31st December Women's Movement share in Caridem, a company owned by the movement.

The Directors of Caridem were found, in a report prepared by the Auditor-General in 2004, to have fraudulently procured the GIHOC Nsawam Cannery.

Apart from not acquiring the sale of the GIHOC Cannery, the Auditor-General's report said Caridem falsified documents, in order to reduce the outstanding liabilities of the company, on the purchase price of the factory.

In consequence, Caridem was said to have not paid the purchase price of the said factory, but still succeeded in securing the execution of a sale and purchase agreement, with the subsequent handing over of the factory in 1997.

It is the view of AFAG that in the face of this report of the Auditor-General, which has not been set aside, it would be totally wrong and prejudicial to the interests of the nation, for Ms Ayittey to be nominated by the President for a Ministerial position, saying, “Ms Ayittey must purge herself of these adverse findings, in order to be fit for consideration by Parliament, for approval as a Minister.

Meanwhile, the individuals involved have indicated their preparedness to institute legal action, to bring defamation charges against members of AFAG, who are making the claims.