Mills Mad At CEPS
Angry-looking President John Evans Atta Mills made a surprise visit yesterday to the Tema Port, condemning the corrupt practices of some officers of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and other agencies operating at the place, which have led to huge revenue losses to the state as captured on a video recording by a journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas of the New Crusading Guide.
The Tema Port, the largest revenue collection point for the country over the years, has come under public condemnation following a revelation of serious cases of bribery and corruption, with some port and CEPS officials colluding with agents and institutions to defraud the state.
He gave his support to the Acting head of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Major-General Carl Modey, to take any drastic action necessary to rid the ports of corruption.
Major-General Modey is said to have already sacked some of the bribe takers captured on the recent secret tape by Anas and his Tiger Eye investigative group, which revealed and confirmed already suspected widespread corruption at the Tema Port.
'This is the gateway. When people want to invest in Ghana they come to the gateway and they are met with corruption. Don't be surprised that today I am in an angry mood. And I have every reason to be angry. Look at the number of people who can hardly make ends meet. Look at the number of people who cannot go to school because we don't have the resources. Look at the number of people who go to school under trees. Look at the number of people who cannot even have access to medical care. We need the revenue to be able to do that. And what is happening? The money you collect does not belong to you. It belongs to the nation and nobody has the right to appropriate what belongs to the nation.
'I have told General Modey that he has every right to do what he thinks is right. Who is watching the watchman? I wish that the revelation from Anas could have come to me from the security agencies who work here. There are people who come here throwing their weight around. I have told General Modey that anyone who comes here in the President's name, the first thing you should do is to arrest them. I am not going to be party to anything which will destroy what we are building in this country,' he said.
"When you talk about corruption, very often people think that it is only politicians who are corrupt. Now, the evidence is there. Indeed, I will go far to suggest that anybody who joins Customs must have an assets declaration form. They must declare their assets and from time to time, new assets declaration forms should be filled so that we know what is happening. I know that they turn a blind eye to it but I am not going to have that under my watch,' he stated.
President Mills regretted the posture of the country's judiciary regarding an earlier video recording by the same journalist of cocoa smuggling aided by state officials.
He further regretted that the 14 suspects, mostly CEPS officers, who are standing trial for aiding some smugglers to export the commodity to neighboring Cote d'Ivoire, were discharged by the court, after a non-corporative attitude of the prosecution team handling the case.
'I also want to use this occasion with the greatest of respect to appeal to our judiciary. My plea is that please help each one of us to account for our stewardship. What happened with the Elubo video causes me so much distress? What happened? Is it a good example? We will not tolerate these lapses," he warned.
The Anas video documentary dubbed, 'Enemies of the Nation, The Dark Secrets of Tema Harbour', which has been aired on a number of television stations in the country, shows some officials of CEPS, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), National Security, and Destination Inspection Companies, amongst others, as well as some agents, colluding with each other in a shameful act of stealing items belonging to some importers as well as defrauding the state.
President Mills expressed worry about activities within the port and noted that such activities had the tendency to tarnish the image of the country.
Visibly angry President Mills warned that his government would not hesitate to allow the laws of the country to take their cause so as to ensure that sanity prevailed across the board.
The President was accompanied by Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffour; Nestor Percy Galley, Director-General of the GPHA; Commissioner of CEPS, Major General Carl Modey; and some government officials.
From Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar, Tema