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25.03.2004 General News

Ghana Army Denies Allegations Against Minister

By JoyNews
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The Ghana Armed Forces have denied allegations that Defence Minister Kwame Addo Kuffour is engaged in frivolous use of the forces planes.

JoyNews had picked up complaints from within the army of growing discontent among personnel who said that at a time when the air force had introduced cost cutting measures, the minister was engaged in frivolous use of air force planes in his travels across the country.

But Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshal E. A. Mantey told JoyNews after the army finally respond to the allegations that there was no element in truth in that allegation.

''The whole of this year, he has travelled only twice by air so we want to tell you that allegations that the minister is engaged in frivolous use of air planes is untrue. Whatever your source is we don't know what their intentions are'', he said.

The complaints had centred on the minister's recent trip to Sunyani for which an air force plane, Fokker 27, which was carrying out duties in Tamale was ordered to fly down to Accra to pick the minister.

The Minister reportedly declined to fly in the aircraft and rather chose to fly in the Fokker 28 plane, which returned that same day to lift the vice president Alhaji Aliu Mahama who was visiting Kumasi. The sources said the next day Friday the 19th The F-28 was ordered to return to Kumasi to lift the defence minister to Accra about the same time when the other aircraft, F-27 was flying the remains of the late Justice Afreh to Kumasi.

The sources questioned why the minister could not be flown back to Accra in the F-27, which conveyed the remains of the late justice but had to order another aircraft. Although the complainants conceded that such VIP flights are part of the responsibilities of the air force they argued that at a time when expenditures had been cut down considerably there was no justification for the defence minister to indulge in such wasteful use of resources.

Air vice Marshall Mantey giving the army's side of the story said: ''F27 was carrying out para duties in Tamale. The next day we had series of task to be performed. The air force headquarters or for that matter the chief of staff has the authority to decide which aircraft performs that task. Nobody asked that f27 be positioned in Accra to pick any personality. What is important is that this task order has been very specific tasking the f28 to take the minister to Sunyani. And it is worth me telling you that on no account has this minister refused to travel on f27. Even when he is going to Siera Leone or Congo, he goes with f27.''

Air Vice Marshall Mantey also said the army is currently not undertaking any cost cutting measures. ''There has been no formal requirement for cost cutting within the mod, army, air force or the navy. We have just been advised to be prudent in our facilities. Gone are the days when people do what they like. Today we do things according to needs and not wants'' he said.

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