Renowned Journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni has written an open letter to the Attorney General in which he makes a strong case for her to prosecute the Jospong Fumigation case.
In his open letter, Manasseh said he has information that the attorney general is because she doesn’t have enough evidence to do so. He argued that “the only reason someone would say they don’t have enough evidence is if they don’t understand the case. In your case, that cannot be an excuse because I have met you, your deputy ministers, state attorneys and prosecutors of your ministry a number of times to discuss this case. I briefed you and you stated the ingredients necessary for prosecution”
In 2017, Manasseh did an investigative documentary titled “Robbing the Assemblies” in which he allegedly discovered how 11 Jospong companies were single sourced for a ¢98 million fumigation contract in flagrant violation of the procurement law and how the Jospong companies may have been inflated by some ¢130m.
BELOW IS MANASSEH’S OPEN LETTER TO THE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.
Dear Attorney General Gloria Akuffo,
A fellow minister with whom you sit in Akufo-Addo’s cabinet has told me that the reason your ministry is not able to prosecute the Jospong Fumigation case is because you don’t have enough evidence to do so. I was not surprised because a statement from your outfit said same when the CHRAJ report on Zoomlion came up last year.
I told him that it’s a BIG LIE. An average first year law student who understands the case and has the evidence available to you can secure conviction without any sweat.
The only reason someone would say they don’t have enough evidence is if they don’t understand the case. In your case, that cannot be an excuse because I have met you, your deputy ministers, state attorneys and prosecutors of your ministry a number of times to discuss this case. I briefed you and you stated the ingredients necessary for prosecution. I provided you with some of them while the police did the rest.
Anyone who watches the “Robing the Assemblies” documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7t_qNa6lQA) on the fumigation would realise that the fraudulent deal was foolishly done. The government officials and the private companies involved did not make any attempt to cover their tracks. The Financial Forensic Unit (FFU) of the Ghana Police Service also travelled to all the 10 regions in Ghana at the time to independently gather evidence. That evidence corroborated what I reported in this documentary.
For instance, that special fumigation was like the one recently done in the midst of the Covid-19. In 2015, it cost Ghana 98 Million Cedis. In 2016, it cost Ghana 96 million cedis. There were payments in 2014 and 2017 for similar but separate contracts. Payment vouchers retrieved by the police from the District Assemblies’ Common Fund show that more than 200 million cedis has been paid to the Jospong Group for this exercise. (The payments were more that but the Common Fund Secretariat claimed it could not retrieve some of the vouchers even though narration of those retrieved indicated previous payments). 200 million cedis is still big enough to pursue.
Officials of the Ministry and District Assemblies Common Fund could not produce the contracts or justification to back the payments. The Jospong Group was the one that gave the police the contracts for only the 2015 project, but could not produce contracts for the 2014, 2016 and 2017 contracts despite many letters from the police, which are contained in the docket submitted to your office. But there’s evidence that monies were paid for all these years.
These payments for this “shady” fumigation were done despite the fact that all the assemblies in Ghana had two already existing fumigation contracts, one paid for by the assemblies and another paid for by the National Health Insurance Authority but executed in all the assemblies in Ghana. These contracts, were awarded to the Jospong Group, which was again awarded the THIRD fumigation contract to work in the same districts it was executing the first two contracts.
The Auditor General acted on the one paid for by the Health Insurance Authority. He surcharged and disallowed 184 million cedis paid to Zoomlion. Zoomlion challenged the surcharge in the High Court and lost. It has appealed.
The fumigation contract under discussion here is the third one. With the help of the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Police got the accounts of these companies and the payments reflected. In most of the accounts, the single man who withdrew the monies in cash is clearly shown.
The job of the police was to find out if this third Special Fumigation Exercise was carried out.
No single official of the awarding ministry, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development — from the minister to the Chief Director to the district environmental health officers — said they witnessed or saw this special fumigation exercise being done. So in effect, the money was paid despite the fact that nobody saw or knew that the work was done. Those in charge of tender also said they did not know about the processes leading to the award of the contracts or their execution.
The Police also wrote to the Jospong Group and asked to name officials of the assemblies or the ministries who supervised the work for which over 200 million cedis was paid.
A response from their lawyer, on a yellow letterhead, said the contract did not require any supervision from government officials.
So, Madam Attorney General, is it possible to have a special fumigation exercise of the level we recently witnessed in a district without the knowledge of the assemblies that run the markets and toilets and public spaces?
And why would the government officials pay that money when they could not independently say the work was done? Why would you not haul these officials before the court to tell the judge why they would pay such huge amounts when they could not independently say the work was done or not?
This is just one angle of the evidence you have. In the coming days, I will prove to you that you have all the necessary ingredients to prove beyond any reasonable doubts that some ministers, chief directors and officials of the District Assemblies Common Fund connived with the Jospong Group to defraud and cause financial loss to the republic of Ghana.
Beyond my documentary, you called me in person and asked that I assist in investigation so you shouldn’t be surprised how much I know. I volunteered and worked even on weekends without taking a pesewa. I know what you have, including very revealing statements from some former staffs of the Jospong Group.
Because of your inaction on this matter, such shady deals are still ongoing and the nation is losing money. So don’t blame me for using this unorthodox means to remind you and the government of your primary duty to bring justice to Ghanaians, whose money is being wasted.
Till I come your way again, this is your friend
Manasseh Azure Awuni.
As charged by President Akufo-Addo, I’m a citizen, not a spectator.