General News of Tuesday, 7 March 2017
The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has reportedly frozen the bank accounts of Daniel Ohene Agyekum, former Board Chairman of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) during the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
A source at EOCO told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that the action had been taken as part of efforts towards the investigation of alleged financial irregularities during the tenure of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD.
Mr. Ohene Agyekum, who was Ghana’s former Ambassador to the United States and former Ashanti Regional Minister, was appointed board chairman of COCOBOD in January 2014.
Recently, the assets and bank accounts of Dr. Opuni were also frozen by EOCO as part of a similar investigation into some contracts the ex-COCOBOD boss reportedly signed during his tenure and financial irregularities uncovered by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
Specifically, government intends to probe some supposed fraudulent multi-million dollar contracts he’s believed to have signed before leaving office.
EOCO, under its new Executive Director, ACP KK Amoah, recently sent invitations to some businessmen who won some contracts from COCOBOD.
One of them is Seidu Agongo, who was invited in connection with an ongoing investigation into shady COCOBOD contracts about which so much has been published in the media in recent times.
Ali Seidu and Kofi Job were the first to be invited by EOCO regarding the contracts awarded them during the NDC regime because of their supposed links with former President John Dramani Mahama and his brother Ibrahim.
The COCOBOD contracts to construct roads and supply fertilizers were sole-sourced and in a manner thought to have breached value for money principles, with a chunk of the contracts going to the three individuals.
Dr. Stephen Opuni is at the centre of the alleged instances of financial impropriety at the national cocoa management institution and under whose aegis many contracts were awarded in breach of best procurement practices.
In the next few days important details of the investigations, it is believed, would be made public, considering the grounds covered by the investigators so far, a source has hinted.
Many calls had been made on the government of President Nana Akufo-Addo to without delay take action on the many instances of shady contracts at COCOBOD.
It is alleged that some of the fertilizers supplied under one of the contracts turned out to be ironically killer inputs which caused enormous anguish to farmers.
Dr. Opuni was on January 12, 2017 asked to vacate office barely a week after the NPP government was inaugurated.
The former CEO of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) was appointed by former President John Mahama on November 30, 2013 to head COCOBOD.
Since then the sector has never been the same again, with cocoa production alarmingly dropping under his tenure as well as allegations of malfeasance leveled against him.
Currently, issues of alleged corruption in the cocoa sector are being investigated and he can be brought before the court of law if EOCO finds any concrete evidence of financial malfeasance against him.
There have been calls for probe into the administration of the former COCOBOD boss since the New Patriotic Party, led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, took office about six weeks ago.
Some staff of COCOBOD alleged that Dr. Opuni awarded contracts without following laid-down regulations and that fertilizers meant for cocoa farmers were also alleged to have been smuggled into neigbouring countries.
The workers claimed Ghana lost more than $10 million because of the alleged dealings of Dr. Opuni.
About 11 top managers of COCOBOD were also directed by the government to proceed on leave after the dismissal of Dr Opuni.
The directive, which was contained in a letter signed by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, asked the affected managers to proceed on leave effective January 30, 2017.
The managers included Deputy Chief Executive (Finance & Administration), Deputy Chief Executive (Agronomy & Quality Control), Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) and the Director of Finance.
The rest were Deputy Director of Finance, Deputy Director of Audit, Director of Civil Works and the Procurement Manager.
At the Cocoa Marketing Company Ltd, the Managing Director (MD), Deputy MD, Director, Legal Services, Deputy Director and the Finance Director have reportedly been asked to go home.