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16.02.2009 Politics

How bumbling Woyongo tripped at vetting

By George Kyei Frimpong - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Minister designate for Upper East Region, Mr. Mark Woyongo last Friday choked on his words when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of parliament over how communication equipment he imported into the country found its way into GBC cargo.

After being subjected to intensive questioning, Mr. Wayongo could not give any tangible reasons and the committee was left with no option than to discharge him to go and do his homework before re-appearing.

The Chronicle has gathered that when the Appointments Committee of parliament, which is vetting the Ministerial nominees, invited views and comments about the nominees from the public, a retired worker of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Mr. K.O Wilson, decided to take advantage of the situation to blow the lid surrounding the transaction which occurred nearly ten years ago.

Wilson alleged in a petition to the committee, which has been sighted by The Chronicle, that Mr. Woyongo took away some broadcasting equipment from GBC when he was in London as an Information Officer, claiming that it was his.

According to Mr. Wilson when Woyongo was questioned, he said he bought the equipment and shipped it through the GBC to operate his Diamond FM station in the Northern region.

“If this is so, he did not pay for the freight charge and took advantage of government money to pay for the shipping of the equipment, we did not believe this and so we seized the equipment until the powers that be said we should give it to him,” he alleged. Continuing he said “even though we did not believe him because we knew that the items were for GBC, we could not do anything about it. How can someone use government money to pay for the shipment of his personal things that he wants to use for private business?” he questioned.

Mr. Wilson was emphatic that Mr. Woyongo took the FM equipment from a consignment of GBC equipment ordered from Europe into the country in the 90s. He was quick to note that it was not certain whether he bought the equipment or took some of the GBC items without paying for them, stressing that what was clear was that he neither paid for the freight nor the duties, when the equipments were cleared from the port.

He urged the Appointments Committee to request the Committee of Enquiry's Report and the Audit Report to know the facts, adding that he was on retirement and as a result he would not be able to provide them with a copy.

He ended by advising the Committee that it would not be doing the country justice if the nominee was passed without carefully looking at the reports and interviewing all those involved.

Mr. Woyongo, on his part, told this reporter last Friday before his vetting that he bought the equipment when he was the Press Attaché in London, and had been assisting GBC in their purchases in London, by sending and arranging for the delivery of purchased goods.

He said, when he was about to depart from London to Ghana, the gentleman who did the purchases for GBC bought his radio equipment for him, adding that the gentleman briefed him that he had equipments for GBC, and spare space in the container. If Woyongo sought permission, he could add his equipments to that of GBC.

“So I spoke to John Mahama, the then Communications Minister and he said “since you have been doing a good job for GBC, there wasn't going to be any serious problem, so I said okay he could ship it because I have gotten permission from the Minister, I had also informed the then Director-General of GBC who was also aware,” he affirmed.

According to him, when he came to Ghana to take delivery of the equipment, there had been a change of leadership at GBC so he had to explain to Mr. Wilson how the equipments got mixed up with that of GBC.

He said, Mr. Wilson subsequently reported him to the National Security that he had shipped in telephone tapping equipments and was later referred to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), who released the equipments to him after he had established that they were his and were bound for the operation of a radio station.

When Chronicle contacted the Vice President, Mr. John Mahama, he confirmed that Mr. Woyongo's equipment came together with that of GBC. He said the case even went before the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), who after thorough investigations released the equipment to Woyongo, and he was therefore surprised that the issue was coming up again.

Chronicle learnt also that there is no outstanding issues with Woyongo at the BNI, and he simply became nervous when he was destabilised by the penetrating nature of his inquisitors. He will be cleared today.

Diamond FM is managed by a veteran in Journalism and former President of Ghana Journalists Association Mr. Edward Ameyibor.

He is a very warm and professional person, noted another senior journalist Kofi Coomson who said he dealt with Mr. Woyongo while he was a press attaché in UK.