Embattled former Minister of Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, yesterday took off his emotional garment and stood toe-to-toe with the Commission of Inquiry probing the World Cup scandal on the third day of his interrogation.
The former Youth and Sports Minister sounded more aggressive than he did on his second appearance when his emotions took the better part of him, causing him to shed what pundits described as ‘crocodile tears’.
Responding to one of the ‘Pythagoras questions’ from Justice Senyo Dzamefe, he said, ‘My Lord, you don’t expect me to know everything off hand. Your question suggests as if I didn’t know what I was about as the Minister.’
And in a sharp response, the intelligent Court of Appeal Justice said, ‘Your answer to the Commission was not palatable. Yes, we don’t expect you to know everything off hand, but at least you should have answered in a more polite way, you are being unfair to the Commission.’
The former sports chief then ate the humble pie, saying, ‘My Lord I am sorry. I am sorry my Lord, I didn’t mean to insult your intellect. My Lord I am sorry.’
Friend Of Government Plane
On the last batch of fans who were flown to Brazil at the time the Black Stars had been kicked out of the World Cup, Mr Afriyie-Ankrah informed the Commission that ‘a friend of the government provided the plane’ for the lifting of supporters for the Ghana-Portugal game when Ghana had already been eliminated from the tournament.
Answering a question from Justice Dzamefe on what he thought about the flight of July 26, which arrived in Brasilia after Ghana had been knocked out of the competition, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah informed the Commission that he preferred to answer that question in camera, promising to provide the details to the Commission on that controversial flight.
‘My Lord, I would like to answer that question in camera but just something small which the public can know is that a friend of government made his plane available for that trip’, he told the Commission.
World Cup Budget
Hon Afriyie-Ankrah revealed that out of the $8.9m World Cup budget, his outfit returned $4,444,053.59 to the government chest. ‘So you see, I didn’t chop all the money as speculated in some media platforms. Even before the money hit the account, they accused me saying things like ‘sika die’.’
Ambassadors Per Diem/Allowance
The issue of per diem and allowances of World Cup ambassadors, comprising actors and actresses, musicians and past footballers, resurfaced at yesterday’s sitting.
The Minister confirmed the ambassadors, the highest paid officials by way of per diem ($200 a day per head), slept in a hotel different from that which members of the supporters unions slept.
He however failed to answer a question on whether performers like Becca, Gyedu Blay Ambulley, Amandzeba Nat Brew and the rest received special honorarium.
The Minister rubbished claims that he slept with actress Jackie Appiah during the World Cup period.
According to him, the last time he set eyes on the beautiful actress was when he officially handed her the ambassadorial appointment letter at the Labadi Beach Hotel.
The Minister indicated that pictures of the handing over ceremony had been bandied about on social media, suggesting that he had an affair with Jackie in Brazil, giving her thousands of dollars per session.
Chairman of the Commission Justice Senyo Dzamefe summed up Ghana’s performance saying the ‘team didn’t do well’, there was ‘player agitation’, with ‘money flown’.
He later quizzed the Minister: ‘Is it a fair summary?’ and the Minister responded, ‘Yes, but I did everything humanly possible to ensure that the system worked but it turned out differently’.
Reacting to whether there was a machination aimed at putting sticks into the World Cup spokes, the former sports minister said, ‘My Lord, there is something about the whole drama, but I will let you know in camera.’
He denied claims that he took part of the appearance fee kitty, saying, ‘My appearance fee would have been reaching semi final or bringing the trophy home.’
The Commission asked: ‘Were you shocked when you heard news about the asylum seekers?’ and he responded: ‘Very much so, we realised the numbers were going down by the day. We realised they were reduced by a hundred plus.’
The Commission asked what mechanisms he had put in place to arrest the situation and he remarked, ‘That was a practical difficulty. There is something about people who want to travel abroad. No amount of words could convince them not to bolt away.’
Who Is Dentaa?
‘Dentaa was the coordinator of the secretariat. We contracted, I mean I hired her. She is based in the UK and happened to be around at the time,’ was his response to the Commission about the lady in question.
The Commission probed further, asking whether Dentaa contracted some people to go around chasing some monies and whether or not they received commission, and the Minister answered: ‘They received allowance’.
They told the minister they might invite her for further questioning, and then discharged him.
Indications are that officials of the three travel agents contracted by government—Kenpong Travel and Tours, African Origin Travels and Sports Tourism and Travel Matters—will appear before the Commission this week.
By Kofi Owusu Aduonum
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