GH¢1.1m Payment For Asafo Interchange Pops UP

Alhaji Amidu Sulemani, Minister od Roads and Highways

It has emerged at the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts that the government paid GH¢1.1million to one Nana Kwame Bediako even though his name does not appear on a contract document the state signed with a construction firm.

However, the Ministry of Roads and Highways appeared before the commission to tender in evidence letters that indicated that the said Nana Bediako of Wonder Properties was given a power of attorney to negotiate on behalf of Messrs Sarroch Grandulati/Gelfi Joint Venture which was arbitrating with the ministry concerning the construction of Asafo Market interchange in Kumasi.

Yesterday, representatives from both the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Controller & Accountant General’s Department testified on the issue but none was able to point out the role played by Nana Bediako even though the two institutions had processed the payment of the GH¢1.1million to the claimant as judgement debt.

BoG’s processing
Lesley Akrong, an assistant director at the Banking Department of BoG flanked by Saviour Kudze of the Legal Department of BoG confirmed that indeed the central bank processed the payment on the authorization of Controller & Accountant General’s Department.

‘We investigated and chanced upon some correspondence from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice and Awoonor Law Consultancy directing the Controller to facilitate the payment and the cause of the payment was in respect of a contract dispute between a joint venture company and the Ministry of Roads and Highways.’

He said the directive was for the BoG to pay from the account of the Ministry of Justice into Nana Bediako’s account at Zenith Bank in respect of Sarroch Grandulati/Gelfi Joint Venture.

The Controller
Andrews Kingsley Kwame Kufe, a deputy controller flanked by Gomda Abdul Samad, a lawyer for the department said documents available indicated that the request to pay GH¢1.1million judgement debt was made in September 2010 and MoFEP directed them to process the payment.

He said the cost of payment was in respect of a contract dispute. However, evidence at the commission showed that the sort of dispute and the people involved were not stated.

Mr. Kufe said on the letter authorizing the payment, it was clearly stated that GH¢2.3million should be released to Sarroch Grandulati/Gelfi Joint Venture while the GH¢1.1million was given to Nana Bediako.

Setting Records Straight
The picture became clearer later, when Owusu Sekyere Antwi, director of Bridges at the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) testified and explained to the commission how Nana Bediako’s name came into the transaction and how he was paid GH¢1.1million.

He said letters written especially in 2010 by Sarroch Grandulati/Gelfi Joint Venture stated clearly that they were appointing Awoonor Law Consultancy as their lawyers and Nana Bediako, who some of their correspondence described as a sub-contractor, as their power of attorney in the arbitration process with the government.

He said the payments had been done on the instructions of Sarroch Grandulati/Gelfi Joint Venture.

GH¢340,000 Palaver
The representative of the BoG also testified on the payment of GH¢340,000 as compensation for land acquired by the government for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture at Adaklu Abutia in the Volta Region.

Mr. Akrong said the central bank had the instruction from the controller to pay the amount from a Canadian Grant Account into the ministry’s account at ADB in Cedi House in 2010.

He said the GH¢340,000 was part payment of the GH¢581,267 grant and added that the central bank was not privy to the names of the beneficiaries of the amount authorized.

Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau then said the commission was making arrangement to invite the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to explain who benefitted from the amounts withdrawn.

The ‘Commission of Enquiry into the payment of Judgement Debt and Akin’ under C.I. 79 to investigate the frivolous and dubious payments of huge monies to undeserving individuals and companies, was appointed by President John Dramani Mahama after public uproar over the payments in what has now come to be termed as Judgement Debts (JD).

Notable among them were payments made to CP (€94 million) and the never-ending case of GH¢51.2million parted to the self-styled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, both of which many believed were dubious and frivolous.

By William Yaw Owusu

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