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01.10.2003 Regional News

The Manya Krobo ¢7bn 'Chop Chop'

By Chronicle
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Barely six days after taking the lid off the rot in the Manya Krobo District Assembly, an investigating team has been assigned by government to look into the issues raised.

The Chronicle has turned over to the team 57 documents of evidence supporting the disbursement of project funds through fraudulent contract awards to district assembly members and officials.

However, fresh evidence that has come the way of the paper further indicts the District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr. Andrews Teye, and his four lieutenants, the district coordinating director, the district finance officer, the district budget officer and the district planning officer, alleged to be at the centre of the crooked award of contracts.

The new evidence is about the concerns raised by the presiding member of the assembly, Mrs. Regina Apotsi, a senior attorney of the Attorney General's Department, since the beginning of the year, about the wanton spate of irregularities that had engulfed the assembly.

Mrs. Apotsi, who was secretary to the Justice Wuaku Commission that enquired into the complex Dagbon crisis, frowned on the irregularities when she addressed the district assembly at an emergency meeting on July17, this year.

According to her, even though she was, by virtue of her position, the chairperson of the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), monies were disbursed without her knowledge and authority.

She also cited instances where meetings meant to deliberate on the fund were unilaterally postponed at the instance of the DCE.

The PM also revealed in her speech that the administration had refused to furnish the assembly with any financial statement since the beginning of the year and recalled how she refused to append her signature to certain documents that involved finances and contracts.

Mrs. Apotsi specifically named the transfer of the assembly's accounts from Koforidua to the Manya Krobo Rural Bank and a contract between the assembly and Nuaso Junior Secondary School.

"My reasons for not signing the documents were that I had not been briefed about them, and also because others had signed before the documents were presented to me for my signature," she explained.

She said she had "nicodemously" been sidelined about tender board meetings. "I have not been able to attend the meetings because I have always been given less than 24 hours notice, with no documents whatever for study before such meetings. This is how the backdoor contracts were awarded."

The PM also said that in line with government's demands for accountability in the disbursement of public funds, she had refused to accept ¢200,000 presented to her from the assembly coffers when she was hospitalized, saying "I was not aware of any such policy of the assembly."

The Chronicle has discovered that a similar gesture extended when one Mr. Narh Ababio, (alias Okper Narh), a senior citizen who died recently was recorded as costing ¢20 million.

Warrant number MKDA/064 with reference number P.380/Vol.3/97 signed by the DCE, dated July 15 2003, directed the budget officer to pay the coordinating director that amount purported to be the cost of gravelling a road leading to the house of the late Mr. Ababio.

The paper's investigations revealed that 20 trips of gravel (at ¢350,000 each), used in filling the 300 metre road should have totaled ¢7 million and not ¢20 million.

No grader was hired to level the road as the local people contributed communal labour for that purpose.

In any case the money for jobs purported to have been done was paid to the coordinating director as indicated in the warrant instead of the contractor.

Other Chronicle sources at the assembly have hinted that ¢21.7 million went with the recent visit of the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, to commission a Spacefon project at the Mount Mary Training College, while the First Lady, Mrs. Theresa Kufuor's visit to AIDS orphans at Krobo Odumase where she donated some rice, cooking oil and other items, cost the assembly ¢8.9 million for the short presentation ceremony.

The President's Special Initiative (PSI) on cassava at Anyamboni is also threatened by the dubious disbursement.

So far ¢39 million is reported to have been spent on what is officially declared as 50 acres, but in reality is 10 acres. A team of the assembly's works sub-committee that visited the farm last Saturday confirmed that only 10 acres of cassava could be seen.

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