Samuel Nlary (L) The Upper East Regional Coordinating Council has debunked rumours over the alleged sale of unwholesome maize in Bolgatanga.
Last year the President of the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), Bismark Ayorigu Adongo announced in a written statement to a section of the media that the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) store was selling bags of unwholesome maize to the public, which he thought was a health hazard.
After the announcement and subsequent publication by the media, the then Upper East Regional Minister, Alhassan Samari, set up a five-member fact finding committee to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegation by the NORPRA President.
The Committee was made up of the Zonal Commander of CEPS, Evans Klutse, Chairman; the Regional Budget Officer, Joseph Annan; the Regional Security Coordinator, Ahmed Mumuni; the Regional Environmental Health Officer, Matthew Abugbilla and a Deputy Director at the RCC, Gilbert Nuuri-Teg as the Secretary.
The Committee was to investigate what prompted the sale of the unwholesome maize, how the maize got on to the market, the beneficiaries of the sale of the maize, and any other matter relating to the sale and disposal of the unwholesome maize.
Presenting the findings and recommendations at a press conference, the Regional Coordinating Director, Samuel Nlary said the maize was not part of the consignment of food items brought for flood victims, but part of a consignment bought and stored by the RCC to resell to the various districts to help solve food shortage that hit most parts of the Upper East region in 2005.
According to the committee's report, some of the maize was sold out to some districts with the remaining kept in the RCC store since 2005 and by 2008 the maize had become unwholesome.
The Committee's report said indeed the maize and some bags of rice were declared unwholesome and needed to be disposed of but were sold from the RCC store without authority from any superior officer. It added that none of the unwholesome food items were directly sold in the market by the RCC store keeper for human consumption, but may have been sent to the market by people who bought them with the explanation that they were giving them to their livestock and poultry.
The report mentioned that indeed, those who bought the food items were told that they were unwholesome for human consumption, which was confirmed in an interview by the President of NORPRA, Bismark Ayorigu Adongo.
The committee's report disclosed that there was an element of collusion between the store keeper and one Mr. Charles Ayando, who allegedly benefited form the unlawful sale of the food items.
The storekeeper has since started her 14 days suspension with commensurate loss of pay as her punishment recommended by the committee, for the unlawful sale of the food items.
Other recommendations directed that the store keeper should 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.
Also, there should be quarterly stock-taking to ensure that expired items are disposed of and a more competent store keeper posted to take charge of the stores.
Bismark Ayorigu Adongo, on his part, said though the store keeper mentioned that the food items were unwholesome for human consumption, he had a problem with the fact that nothing concrete seemed to have been made to ensure that people did not consume them.
“Considering the poverty levels in this region, even if you tell them not to eat, they would, once they would not die after eating. I think the storekeeper should have consulted her superior and then invited livestock and poultry farmers to buy them and not inviting members of the public to come to the RCC store to buy.”
Meanwhile proceeds from the unlawful sale of the unwholesome food items have been handed over to the RCC Accounts Office for safe keeping.
From Ebo Bruce-Quansah