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14.08.2005 General News

A Tale Of Two Loans

By GYE NYAME CONCORD

Saga of 'Hotel Kufuor' $3.5million Credit Gloom *How Rawlings Shot Down $1m Credit Facility For ICL *The Forgotten Account Of Boakye-Danquah GOVERNMENT Spokesman Nana Ohene Ntow yesterday accused the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of engaging in a record of witch-hunting successful businessmen on the basis of unproven suspicion and speculations.

According to him, what was happening to Chief Kufuor and his partners behind the continuing 'Hotel Kufuor” saga is reminiscent of what happened to former NPP flagbearer aspirant, Dr Safo Adu and current Minister for Private Sector Development, Honourable Kwamena Bartels over a loan secured by the defunct Industrial Chemical Laboratories (ICL).

Speaking on Peace FM yesterday, he said former President Rawlings, then Chairman of the PNDC, took a personal interest in the loan, which had nothing to do with him and haunted the beneficiaries, suggesting that some critics of the 'Hotel Kufuor' saga are exhibiting same tendencies and raising unfounded issues based on baseless speculations and suspicions.

To give readers an idea of what the ICL loan was about, we reproduce from the defunct Ghana News magazine, (courtesy the defunct African Observer) a confession by a former chairman of the National Tribunal in Accra, Kwaku Boakye-Dankwah, in the case of the People versus Dr. Kwame Safo Adu and four others.

Boakye-Dankwah acquitted and discharged Dr. Safo Adu, a presidential aspirant and three others on trumped up charges of committing acts to sabotage the economy. It was one case which attracted international attention for the political nature of the trial. Rawlings himself led the troops that closed down Dr. Safo Adu's pharmaceutical factory at Kwamo, near Ejisu in the Ashanti Region.

Boakye-Dankwah fled Ghana and sought political asylum in London, where he told it all.

Now read unedited the account by Mr. Kwaku Boakye-Dankwah, former Chairman of the National Tribunal, whic appeared under the banner “HOW GHANA'S TRIBUNALS CHURN OUT JUNK JUSTICE.

“I have been at the job for six years, since 1986. But I really started sitting some where in 1987. I have tried very controversial cases. I have had problems in the sense that there has been a great deal of political interference from the Executive, particularly with the cases that the government has some interest in.

The tribunals, as it were, have been established to try cases, particularly in which the government has interest. It would not be symptomatic of my tribunal alone. It is a problem which all tribunals in Ghana have experienced particularly, those at the national level i.e., the National Public Tribunals.

Over time, I realised that we were doing a dirty job for the government, particularly for the personalities - Capt. Kojo Tsikata and Jerry John Rawlings.

In terms of the manipulation, deviousness, chicanery, interference, intervention threats and all that is unsavoury which the PNDC organisation visits on the Public Tribunals; inviting them to justify the extra-judicial acts and whimsical conduct of key actors of the regime particularly Jerry Rawlings: the combination and orchestration of all anarchic forces in case number 119/90: THE PEOPLE V DR KWAME SAFO ADU AND 4 OTHERS, is without precedent of public tribunals.

On October 19, 1990, at about 11:30 am, I received a telephone call from the Ministry of Interior.

A female voice informed me that the then Secretary for the Interior Nii Okaija Adamafio was on the line. I was instructed by Adamafio to inform my Tribunal panel to stand by to try a case said by him to be of “great public interest and one in which Rawlings himself had a personal interest”

Shortly thereafter Bright Akwettey, Assistant Public Prosecutor at the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor (OSPP) telephoned me and informed me to wait for an important message from the Secretary for Interior.

Akwettey informed me that the Secretary was bringing a very important case for me to try. Apparently, he did not know Adamafio had already delivered the message.

I told Akwettey I had already received the message from Nii Admafio in person. I forthwith informed my panel about the messages.

At about 3:30 pm, my panel was short of patience and tempers were fraying. It was a weekend. My panel members were Madam Comfort Do, a retired nursing sister and Andrews Dartey, a former police inspector and a very close friend of Jerry Rawlings. Madam Do was on the edge of travelling to Ho. Dartey had his commitments.

“What is this mysterious case for which our time is being wasted?” was the question asked over and over again in disgust. At about 3:30 p.m., Akwettey intervened to cool down tempters. He pleaded with us to “hold on a little” for they would soon be with us. Apparently they were still even at this stage questioning suspects in the matter to obtain statements from them.

At about 4:15 p.m., the Deputy National Registrar, E.O. Odametey appeared before my panel with a case docket. It was marked CASE No 119/90: THE PEOPLE V DR KWAME SAFO ADU AND 3 OTHERS, (Industrial Chemical Laboratories, Andrews Kumi Wontumi and Francis Kwaku Bruce).

The case docket contained a charge sheet stating 13 offences. The case was listed before my panel to try. At about 4:30 pm, three individuals were escorted into the court and arraigned. The case was called. The three individuals were identified as the accused persons. The Court Clerk read the charges over to them and their pleas were taken.

The People were represented by Anthony Gyambibi an Assistant Public Prosecutor at the OSPP. The prosecutor delivered his opening address. Kwamena Bartels, a Lawyer who had announced himself as counsel for the first accused Dr. Kwame Safo Adu and the second accused ICL vigorously replied to the prosecution's opening address. Wontumi, third accused and Bruce, fourth accused informed the Tribunal that they were suddenly uprooted from their various occupations and taken to Police Headquarters, their statements taken and then brought to the Tribunal. They complained that the rather abrupt nature of the proceedings had taken them by surprise and they were unable to make arrangements for the Counsel to take instructions to represent them.

There was a plea for bail. The panel retired to consider the bail. The consensus was to decline bail. The charges and allegations seemed serious enough. However, the primary consideration for Dartey was that Rawlings was involved in the matter and Counsel for the first and second accused had been abrasive in his attack on the action taken to close down ICL. Dartey advised that we had to be careful. The accused persons were remanded in custody.

On the morning of October 22, 1991 in the Tribunal, George Agyekum, Chairman of the National Public Tribunal, with unveiled resentment and disgust demanded to know why I had taken the case. He actually described me as rebellious. I was utterly bemused. I explained to him, as if I was obliged to, that his friend, Adamafio and Akwettey personally listed the case specifically before me. I did not ask for the “juicy case”.

Agyekum started a tirade against Adamafio and Akwettey, who were nowhere near. Agyekum told me that Adamafio had to find somebody to try the case because of solidarity with Ato Dadzie. I listened. I was fascinated. Agyekum said that had the case not been called on that Friday, October 19, 1990, Jerry Rawlings would have fired Ato Dadzie that day. Agyekum said that Ato Dadzie had been instructed by Rawlings to have him, Agyekum try the case but he did not have the audacity to present the case.

At the time one of the usual feuds was simmering to boiling point between Agyekum and Ato Dadzie. Agyekum told me that he knew that the case was to be presented that Friday, October 19, 1990, and several pleas had received a futile ear from him. He had deliberately travelled out of Accra to Kumasi to give a sharper edge to the predicament of Ato Dadzie and the bursting at the seams of Jerry Rawlings.

Agyekum told me that whilst he was in Kumasi he received several pleas from Commander Baffour Assasie Gyimah, a Naval officer and intelligence operative at the office of National Security and Foreign Affairs under Captain Kojo Tsikata, to come to Accra to try the case but he remained adamant.

Apparently, I had been hijacked to try Dr. Safo Adu and others, to save Ato Dadzie, deflate the irritable disposition of Jerry Rawlings and as Bright Akwettey later explained to me, to rehabilitate my image which has taken a vicious battering in the Owusu Fodwour case and which aftermath, the perfect Machiavellian deviousness and duplicity characteristic of the PNDC Secretariat had been voraciously seized upon by that incarnation of Machiavelli himself at the PNDC Secretariat to embarrass me after his coalition of forces and personalities had failed to save their surrogates in the Owusu Fodwour trial.

Adamafio, Akwettey and Ato Dadzie and the PNDC Secretariat had hijacked Kwaku Boakye Danquah to save the career drive of Ato Dadzie, keep Jerry Rawlings happy, and spread the government's often repeated phrase: “corrupt politicians and businessmen”.

At the time, the Dr. Safo Adu case hijacked me, I was aware that several attempts had been made by individuals who could not live with the idea that a villain of the ilk of Kwaku Boakye-Dankwah was trying Safo Adu and others, to get a more fair-minded and less mediocre and probably less compromised legal minds, to process the case to the end. Even if Safo Adu and others were sentenced to death, it would be appreciated if it was not handed down by Boakye-Danquah.

At any rate, the sorting out of the bric-a brac that took place in the backrooms of the government to fix the case remains quite blissfully unknown to individuals concerned about the fairness of the trial and the welfare of the accused persons.

All the accused persons were granted bail in November. After the bail had been granted, I was approached by Bright Akwettey, who asked to know why bail was granted to the accused persons. He was asking the question because he had been told by the then Secretary for the Interior Adamafio that questions were being asked at the highest level of government as to why the Tribunal considered bail in such a serious case.

He added that Rawlings was not happy about the matter - that is our grant of bail.

My reaction to this complaint was that having regards to the fact addressed in the prosecutor's opening statement, my panel members considered that the conditions attached to the bail were sufficient to ensure that the accused persons continued to appear or the trial.

You can't withhold bail unless there were compelling reasons not to do so. I was not happy with the way questions were being asked and that my Tribunal would not be obliged to respond to any future administrative instructions or enquiries about the case.

Bright Akwettey was obviously not happy that I wasn't going along with him. He argued that it was absolutely necessary that government be kept informed on a regular basis about the tendencies of the tribunal regarding the case as it was Rawlings who had initiated and insisted on the prosecution of the case, particularly of Dr. Safo Adu, adding that the political stakes in the case were high indeed. The government, as it were, should not lose stakes in the case so they had to get regular information about where we were leaning. I addressed Akwettey on the untenable nature of the discussion and the completely irregular and most unethical manner in which a stated criminal matter on trial was becoming subject to subtle interference and extraneous consideration. I mean things like high political stakes and the rest of it didn't come in. We have got the charge sheet. It wasn't a political trial as far as we were concerned.

I rejected the notion that the matter could not be determined on the evidence which they adduced, which at that stage … the stage where we were having this discussion, had not been received on record. They had not called any witnesses at all. The prosecution had not called witnesses at all. I told him that any decision that we arrived at was going to be determined on the basic weight that were at the end of the trial going to be adduced. Bright Akwettey is closely connected with the state apparatus… very close to Capt. Kojo Tsikata. He goes on errands, travels a lot… Obviously, he wasn't happy. I will also confess that I have been very friendly to him. We have a very good rapport. Obviously that was why he approached me in that manner.

In a very determined manner, Bright Akwettey reminded me that it was Rawlings himself who personally went with his armed troops to close the factory, that is Industrial Chemical Laboratories (ICL). Akwettey said if the matter was not considered to be in the supreme interest of the State, Rawlings would not have embarked on the action he took in connection with the closure of the factory.

ICL is located in Kwamo, near Ejisu in the Ashanti Region. There is a very dark history behind the closure of the factory.

Bright Akwettey told me that the government had immense confidence in me as a Tribunal Chairman and also in my panel. That is why I was assigned to try the case. Bright Akwettey also told me that even though Dr. Safo Adu, particularly, had not been charged with subversion, the State had sufficient pharmaceutical factories, that is ICL and another factory called Castera Air Processing Factory which belongs to a retired military officer who is now deceased, Major Kwame Asante, were primed towards the production of subversive materials quite apart from the fact that Safo Adu had taken loans from the State. But Dr. Safo Adu had taken loans from his bank-NIB. Bright Akwettey was giving me background as to why he brought the prosecution in the first place.

I said that if the prosecution had wanted these political issues to form a basis for the trial, then you address these matters in your opening statement. Akwettey also added that the matter, this particular matter regarding Safo Adu's factory being used as ground for subversion could have been dealt with extra judicially by the State apparatus. If it had occurred around 1982, they could have razed the factory down or maybe out of hand shot the man. Who cares, things have happened over the past decade. It wouldn't have been anything strange at all.

I however insisted that the case would be determined on its merit and would not encourage any political or State interference. The explanation that I gave obviously did not sit well with Bright Akwettey.

In November 1991, in the course of the trial, I was invited to the Office of the National Registrar and Member/Secretary of the Public Tribunals and informed by Isaac Douse, that he had received instructions from Ato Dadzie to transfer Dr. Safo Adu's case from my tribunal to another tribunal. I asked him the reason why there was this administrative instruction. He said as far as he was concerned, that was the instruction that he had been given and that he had to act administratively and get the case transferred.

He realised that the case had been brought to me directly from the PNDC Secretariat by Nii Adamafio. Now in the course of the trial they want to transfer the case. My response was to tell Douse if there was any reason why the case should be transferred; the proper procedure should be followed. I said it was not within the powers of Douse or that of Ato Dadzie at the PNDC Secretariat to deal administratively with judicial matters pending before me and that if they felt there were compelling reasons he or Ato Dadzie should appear before the Tribunal and adduced evidence why the case should be transferred. It was not as if I had any interest in the case. Thereafter they never pursued the case.

Curiously, enough the National Registrar stopped listing cases before my Tribunal. Duose told me that Ato Dadzie had instructed that no case should be brought to my Tribunal until the manner in why I dealt with Dr. Safo Adu was ascertained at the end of the trial.

In the latter part of November 1990, it was clear that I was being cajoled into taking a position, even at the early part of the trial, which will give the government the satisfaction that they were going to secure a conviction against the accused persons.

Having failed to ascertain what decision I would eventually lay down in the trial, they put immense pressure and the crudest form of intimidation on me and my family.

I will list them. In the first place I was invited to the Office of the PNDC Member for Foreign Affairs and National Security and told by Commander Assasie Gyimah that the office had received two separate reports, one emanating from Kumasi that a group of political activists loyal to the accused persons would wreak vengeance on me if I sentenced Safo Adu to death. The other report was that a group in Accra linked with narcotic trafficking was disconcerted with the convictions that I had handed to their colleagues that had broken their network. These people were aiming to attack me and members of my family.

Commander Assasie Gyimah informed me that I had members in Government sympathetic towards me who were prepared to protect me and my family and I need not worry as long as I reciprocate by protecting the interest of the government, particularly the integrity of Rawlings in the case I was trying.

Commander Assasie Gyimah went on to give me bunch of keys to a flat near the Sakumono, on the Teshie-Nungua Road claiming it was a safe house. But I knew that was where the commandos had their base. I did not move in. Instead, I asked a friend to move into the flat. My friend told me he suspected the flat was bugged.

Thereafter, Commander Assasie Gyimah asked me several times why I was not living in that house. He said so long as I tried Dr. Safo Adu's case, I was at risk. But I declined to live there. I also refused a car because I knew it was a subterfuge by the security system to create for me a scenario of insecurity whereby I could be susceptible to persuasion from the agents of the government.

A few weeks before I delivered judgment to acquit and discharge Dr. Safo Adu, I was invited to the office of Commander Assasie Gyimah who after a futile attempt to find out what ruling I was to deliver in the case, demanded that I give the keys to the flat back to him. I could not immediately return the keys because I could not just ask my friend to leave without arranging an alternative accommodation. It took some time before he got the keys.

On that day George Agyekum met me and said “you better hand over the keys to Assasie Gyimah. After all, you did not go to live there”.

Very early in the course of the trial, my wife who was nursing a baby told me several times that she met people she could identify as operatives of the intelligence system who warned her to advised me to do the proper thing.

My house was subjected to very suspicious burglaries. There was a great deal of psychological pressure. Sometimes you wake up and see that three mice have been killed and left in front of the main door.

My wife was traumatised when several times particularly worthless articles were pinched and messages scribed that I and my family would be abducted by armed robbers. My wife was followed almost anytime she went to town by strange people asking whether she was safe staying with me. She had to leave the matrimonial home to live with her mother. Even then the harassment did not stop. She would suddenly wake up in the night and scream.

A severe strain was put on the family. Eventually, our family agreed that she should go and stay with her brother in the United States for a long holiday.

Throughout the trial, my movements were monitored. At the trial, security agents made you feel their presence.

Several times in the course of the trial, attempts were made by Bright Akwettey, who was prosecuting, to create discord between me and my panel, to portray me as anti-establishment. Throughout the trial I made sure I recorded everything. The prosecution was asking irrelevant questions abut the accused person's political persuasion which had nothing to do with the case.

Long after both the prosecution and defence had closed the case, the prosecution made a submission to call fresh witnesses. But the cases had dragged on for more than a year. It was a bizarre submission, so I overruled it. A week after I had overruled the submission, my panel members, who have no legal training at all, produced a statement disassociating from the ruling. They said they did not agree with the ruling I made. It was a bizarre situation.

Obviously, the State powers knew they were losing the case. They could not come to me, so they had to attack from the flanks. They knew if it came to decision, it could only be a majority or unanimous decision.

It was patently clear that these two lay members of the tribunal had been prevailed upon by government officials to undermine the integrity of my tribunal, isolate me for attacks by the State and throw the whole trial into a chaos. The action of Madam Do and Dartey came in for very harsh indictment in the independent media as completely outlandish and ill-motivated. Throughout the trial, my panel members regularly absented themselves from the trial with the excuse that they had commitments elsewhere.

It becomes necessary to state that Madam Do who hails from the same ethnic background as Rawlings, that is from the Volta Region, has close association with senior members of government particularly Capt. Kojo Tsikata. Dartey, a former Police Inspector, has a direct and unrestricted access to Rawlings.

Jerry Rawlings, in an unprecedented comment in the “People's Daily Graphic”, complaining about the judgment that I had given, said: “The law was an ass”.

Bright Akwettey publicly ridiculed my handling of the trial, saying that the trial had been fettered by technicalities which in the past had perverted the cause of justice and enabled criminals to go scot-free. And that my ruling had deliberately sabotaged the prosecution case and defeated the very rationale for establishing the Tribunal system.

On October 28, 1991, I was invited to meet Commander Assasie Gyimah at his office. The first thing he said when he saw me was: “What kind of judgement was that? Your judgement was very strange”. After a long tirade against the judgement, Commander Assasie Gyimah asked: “Boakye, is that the best you could have done? Do you realise that you slapped government in the face and publicly humiliated Rawlings?”

These acts pointed to the fact that I was not safe in the country anymore, because I have done my duty conscientiously. I was told by a friend, deep in the Security Services that there had been several meetings by the State apparatus on me. One of the meetings was attended by Capt. Kojo Tsikata, Commander Assasie Gyimah, George Agyekum, who is a Tribunal Chairman, Kwasi Degbor, a security operative and Alhaji.

Kwasivi and Alhaji are supposed to be operatives of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) but they operate from the Castle Annex, the former Foreign Affairs Ministry. They called the place Blue Gate.

I was informed by my source that at this meeting the security implications of the judgement were discussed. I was informed that I had been placed on a “Stop List”.

It looked like the judgement really hit them hard, particularly because Jerry Rawlings had a deep personal stake in it. Basically, the trial was to get Dr. Safo Adu. The rest were just cannon fodders.

My insecurity was obvious. My friends would meet me in town and ask me why I was around. In November 1991, a journalist friend of mine informed me that he had received a tip off. You know journalists have a lot of contacts. He informed me that he had a tip off from a very senior military officer that the State Security has plans to quietly pick me up during the Christmas holidays.

The implication was that I had to be careful. Thereafter I decided not to sleep in my house. I kept moving from house to house. In December1991, I was informed by the person who told me about the meeting at Kojo Tsikata's Office that my official residence was targeted to be raided by personal security men, they call them PS, so-called commandos and make it look like armed robbery.

When I heard this, I knew it was time to leave the country. I told the Registrar that I was going on leave. For six years I had not gone on leave.

On January 7, 1992, I secured a visa from the British High Commission in Accra. They were obviously well informed about the events in Ghana. To put it succinctly, they even encouraged me to leave. An officer came and shook my hands and said: “It is good to stand by what you believe in”.

On January 24, with the assistance of some friends, I passed through the bush and got to Abidjan where I took a British Airways flight to London.

The story is that the government wanted a conviction against Dr. Safo Adu, may be for their own political end.”

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