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12.12.2002 General News

No SFO report on TMA -SFO Director

By Graphic
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THE Executive Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Mr Theophilus Cudjoe, has denied that the SFO has issued a report in respect of the Tema Municipal Assembly (TMA), indicting its chief executive and two other officials of the assembly for impropriety. He challenged the reporter of the Ghana News Agency who wrote the story to produce a copy of the report of investigations conducted by the SFO. Mr Cudjoe was speaking in an interview in reaction to the uproar surrounding the alleged indictment of Mr Samuel Evans Ashong-Narh, the TMA boss, Alhaji I. M. J. Husseini, Co-ordinating Director, and Mr Samuel Aryee, the Finance Officer, for causing financial loss to the state through the award of two contracts. A Ghana News Agency (GNA) report carried by the Daily Graphic in its Monday, December 2, edition said a report on investigations conducted by the SFO said the two contracts were awarded in November 2001 for the spraying and disinfestation of the final disposal site at Kpone, which was awarded at more than ¢900 million, and the development of a computerised system for billing, payment management and revenue mobilisation at a cost of ¢300 million. The SFO report, according to the GNA, noted that the spraying and disinfestation contract was not put on tender for competitive bidding as required by the guidelines for the award of contracts by district assemblies. According to Mr Cudjoe, investigations are still on-going and “no report whatsoever has been issued by the SFO”. He said the amount involved is huge and, therefore, requires meticulous investigations so that nobody's reputation will be impugned through a hurriedly rushed through investigations. He said the issuing of any such report will certainly include recommendations for the immediate arrest and prosecution of any officer found guilty.Mr Cudjoe was emphatic that no report has been issued and pleaded with media practitioners to exercise great circumspection in their reportage. The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, also denied knowledge of any SFO report on the TMA affairs.He explained that when the story broke out, he asked the SFO Secretariat to furnish his ministry with its investigations into the matter. Nana Akufo-Addo said he was told that the SFO Secretariat has not yet prepared a report on the matter. “All he is aware of is that the SFO has instructed its Tema office to institute an enquiry into the allegations and the matter is still under investigations,” he said. Asked about the insistence of the GNA that there is a report, he declared, “If there is a report, the GNA should produce it”. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Justice and Security Committee of the Tema Municipal Assembly (TMA), Mr Daniel Asomani, has stated that the award of the two contracts in respect of the Kpone landfill site and other projects was done in good faith and in the interest of the public, reports Naomi Chartey, from Tema. He has accordingly denied any form of wrong doing on the part of the TMA in the award of the said contracts. Addressing a news conference on behalf of the TMA Chief Executive in Tema yesterday, Mr Asomani said the situation at the Kpone landfill site was one that required urgent attention, due to the stench emanating from the site as well as pressure from the companies around the site who were threatening to take legal action against the TMA. He said there was a possible outbreak of an epidemic in Kpone and certain areas around Tema Manhean if immediate action had not been taken on the site.He explained that taking a contract through the tender board takes time due to the bureaucracy involved and added that the action to award it administratively was done in order to forestall a possible epidemic outbreak. Mr Asomani said the contracts were awarded through administrative approvals due to the pressing nature of the project and later sent to the Tender Board to be rectified, adding that even though administrative approvals is another form of awarding contracts, it is used only under urgent circumstances. He said for instance, the Ministry of Roads and Transport used the same procedure for the award of the contract on the Spintex road when the road was made inaccessible by the floods and questioned why they have also not been accused of causing financial loss to the state. “The TMA has awarded over 50 contracts through the tender board and it should, therefore, not be a problem for it to pass any form of contract through tender.“The problem with passing a contract through tender is that there are a lot of bureaucracies involved.

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