...Hon. Ayibontey and Hon. Okulley Nortey named
..."I am prepared to testify in court"
A member of the ministerial committee on premix fuel (MCPF) in charge of both the central and western regions, Mr. Kojo Mbir has called on parliament to probe the activities of the MCPF to unearth what he called, massive corruption in the distribution of premix fuel in the country.
ording to him, his call on parliament to probe the system was premised on the fact that the numerous letters and petitions he and one Nana Appiah Korang who was in charge of the Komenda outlet had written to President Kufuor and all sector ministers, drawing their attention to the massive corruption had fallen on deaf ears.
He said at a point in time, he and Appiah Korang were invited by the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), based on the numerous letters they had written about the massive corruption the chairman of the committee and his deputies, Messrs Nii Bi Ayibontey and Okuley Nortey had been indulging in.
Mr. Mbir and Korang who walked to The Chronicle office to provide the information regretted that though they had provided enough evidence about this massive corruption involving Ayibontey and Okuley Nortey to the BNI, nothing came out of it.
Mbir further told the paper which first broke out the story that he was prepared to appear before any parliamentary committee that would be tasked to investigate the corruption charges or at any court of law to provide evidence against Ayibontey and Okuley Nortey, who are both members of parliament.
He alleged that in October 2003, he reported the conduct of Ayibontey and Okuley to Hon. Edward Akita, minister of state in charge of fisheries for allegedly diverting 315,000 gallons of premix fuel with a street value of 5.04 billion cedis without the knowledge and approval of other committee members, especially he who was in charge of the central and western regions where the fuel was reportedly delivered.
According to him, based on his report, the minister invited Ayibontey and in his presence, made it clear to him that should the allegation go beyond his office, he Ayibontey would be scarified. He regretted that apart from his warning, the minister did not bother to find out where and how the said fuel that was being subsidized at great cost by the government was sold.
He said later, his personal investigations revealed that only 30,000 gallons or 10 loads of the said fuel were sent to its designated place in the western region.
The deputy regional minister, Madam Horner-Sam confirmed this during a radio interview in Takoradi recently.
Mr. Mbir further said when a load of 3,000 gallons of the premix was sold to the fishermen, a profit of 1.4 million cedis was made, and this was normally given to the fishermen and the community to carry on development projects. He said when the oil was sold at the black market, they made a profit of 5million cedis on each load, observing that if this calculation was taken into consideration, Ayibontey and his cohorts made a profit of over 200 million cedis through diversion of fuel.
Mbir said also that, among the outlets Ayibontey claimed to have sent the fuel in question to were the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council on Premix Fuel (GRCCPF) and their counterparts in the western and volta regions.
He contended that the above committee did not exist in the regions mentioned but because Ayibontey and Okuley knew what they were doing, they listed them on official documents among those supplied with fuel.
He showed this reporter a letter signed by the western regional minister that dissolved the WRCCPF in the Western region as far back as 2002 and noted that the normal rule was that when the fishermen were in need of the fuel, they raised their orders through their oil marketing companies and after all the necessary documents had been sanctioned, he Mbir, in his capacity as the member in charge of the central and western regions, placed the order for the fuel to be lifted and supplied to the fishermen.
According to him, because he had been exposing their corrupt practices, Ayibontey and Okuley Nortey usually bypassed him to place orders to such places that did not exist in reality. They then used these dubious outlets to lift the fuel to the black market to sell in order to make huge profit, which practice was against regulations governing premix distribution.
He said further that, because Ayibontey and his deputies had known they would definitely be challenged about the dubious orders they had placed, they did not inform him about lifting the 315,000 gallons of premix from the Tema Oil Refinery to the supposed designations that did not exist.
He indicated that because the powers that be let them go free, Ayibontey and Okuley used the same dubious means this year too, to divert 141,000 gallons of the premix fuel, which was reported by The Chronicle.
He said when the paper broke the story and he also went to one of the radio stations in Takoradi to confirm it as nothing but the truth, Hon.
Eddie Akita thought he had leaked the story to the paper.
"Akita called me one day on my mobile phone that he thought I was one of them but my pronouncement had exposed me," he said and added that he was not bothered about the comment from the minister because the fact that he was a member of the NPP did not mean he should condone wrong doing. He said they were now accusing him of being an NDC sympathiser because he had exposed their corrupt practices.
Speaking with documentary evidence as support, Mr. Mbir alleged that Mr. Ayibontey had interests as well in exploiting outlets like Kokrobite, Oshiyie Kpasa, Oti Damanko "2", Kwame Krom, Tokor, Old Ningo "2" and six others in the Greater Accra region.
This, he continued, was in contravention of the premix fuel policy where ownership was vested in fishermen groups and associations.
He reiterated his desire to appear before any court of law or committee set up by parliament to investigate his allegations against Ayibontey and Okuley who had earlier denied the story published about them in The Chronicle.