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General News | Nov 23, 2004

SFO Paralysed

Palaver

Move to protect corrupt Gov't officials ...

Palaver -- THE Serious Fraud Office (SFO), it is learnt, has been reduced to a state of a non-performing investigative state organ, existing only in name.

According to insiders, the two latest stories, credited to the outfit, were all the outcome of investigations carried out by other agencies "in the name" of the SFO.

None of the organisation's members of staff was involved in any of the cases.

The whole organisation now operates with two old vehicles, an empty stock of stationery, with the staff, yawning all day, waiting in vain, to be resourced to enable them to tackle their assignments, as reports reaching them on cases of corruption and malpractices, gather dust in their trays.

The SFO, itself, appears to have run into trouble in the early days of the Kufuor Administration, when an over enthusiastic official leaked a report to a GNA reports, on the "misdeeds" of the Chief Executive of the Tema Municipal Assembly.

Later, the SFO was forced to lick its own report, with the excuse that the organisation never writes a report on its findings.

That excuse left the public, with wild imaginations, since many wondered, in what form the previous findings of the organisation, had taken- a composition in braile, Latin or through a telephone dictation to the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice!

However, according to the sources, that incident was to signal the "beginning of the end".

Since, then apart from salaries, requests made for logistics for the organisation have received no positive response.

"For the past four years, we have not been given a single vehicle, although requests for them, have been repeated, year after year".

"Our letter-heads have run out... so do we have no sheet of paper, even to jot down any matters of interest, which come to our notice;" the sources said, adding.

"Once a while, we wake up to find our name, being 'mentioned in despatches' in the press, as having busted one crime or the other, to our surprise."

"Unless there is another SFO, operating elsewhere, outside our offices at the former Parliament House in Accra, the stories we are being credited with are none of ours".

"The SFO is a paralysed," they emphasised.

As the insiders told their story to the 'Palaver' team, elsewhere, in the same building, a sort of silent, but explosive protest was taking place in the Offices of the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justices (CHRAJ).

Waving red hand-kerchiefs and wearing red armed-bands, the mood of the workers, all with stern faces, told its own story-that of anger.

"There is trouble brewing inside the 'house', which is supposed to solve the troubles of others," bystanders observed.

Simply put, the CHRAJ workers are being under-paid for months, for no tangible reasons-an agreed review or salaries, it appears, still remains a "mouth-agreement", locked up somewhere.

So, if there is trouble at the CHRAJ, itself over salaries then where does one go to lodge his or her complaints, when one is cheated at his or her work-place?, an observer asked.

There must be a reason why the Government is intentionally starving these independent state investigative organisations.

However, this is yet to be established, apart from concerns that the Government is not interested in getting its members exposed through investigations by any external organs.

The infamous Cape Coast "Adam and Eve" story, followed by its "waa... waa... waa" refrain, perhaps, provide only a clue to this let-down, especially when the Government continues to vote huge sums of money for the running of an investigative unit, within the Castle itself, which has issued no leaflet to justify its existence, since its establishment.

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