Proving that the accused government officials under the erstwhile Mahama administration were paid more than they were entitled and that they were indeed involved in any criminality; trying to defraud the state by taking monies beyond what was rightfully entitled them will be a very difficult task for the Criminal Investigation Department, former Deputy Minister of Information, in the NDC government, Felix Kwakye Ofosu has said.
Speaking on the back of ‘double pay’ allegations made against some former NDC appointees on Newsfile, Mr. Ofosu Kwakye indicated that it is almost impossible to prove wrongdoing on the part of any of the accused persons since they have documents and evidence to buttress the fact that the monies received in their respective bank accounts were the exact amounts they were entitled to.
“When you allege crime, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt so the onus is on government to show that the person so accused intended at all material times to defraud the state but you see, it is speculation. If you are alleging criminality and somebody’s liberty is at stake, we cannot limit the discussion to conjecture, speculation etc.
“They’ll have a hard time establishing any conclusion in that regard”
“I can tell you that because most of these people are my colleagues, I have seen bank accounts; the accounts that they gave to the Controller and Accountant General and even to the parliamentary service and when you look at it there is no indication of double payments, I have seen that myself on authority because they have also taken steps to verify the claims against them”, he stated.
Mr. Ofosu Kwakye like his colleagues, believes this is a mere attempt by the ruling government to witch-hunt NDC members following their protests against the US military deal. He recounted previous instances where similar accusations were brought up by Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong and the image of people were tarnished. A repeat of such a situation particularly at a time like this when Ghanaians are on government’s neck to reverse the defense agreement it has signed with the United States for him is a clear indication of a ‘diversionary witch-hunt’ attempt.
“I say that it has diversionary witch-hunt written all over it because it is not a recent phenomenon, indeed these claims have been in the public phenomenon for close to a year. The first person to make the allegation once again was Ken Agyapong, a senior official within the NPP. He as usual went to town and called people names and bastardized them. Not long after that, known propagandists and spokespersons on this government circulated a list on which there were names of people who were either not MPs or Ministers and could certainly not have been receiving double pay. They put out that name and it became a matter of controversy”.
“Some of them had to publicly distance themselves or issue statements to indicate that they cannot have been caught in such a situation”
“Then out of the blue, immediately the minority starts piling pressure on government about this US military deal, they get calls from the CID unit that 25 of them are required to assist with investigations and a day after that, an NPP tabloid; Daily Guide publishes that 22 people who served in parliament or in ministerial capacity under the Mahama administration have been invited by the CID to assist with these investigations”.
He finds it difficult to understand the basis of the allegations especially since the payment terms as far as the emoluments for every such official is not clearly stated such that each appointee knows exactly how much they take.
“You’ll find out that there is no instance where anybody has been paid more than he was entitled to so it will be hard for the CID clearly acting on the instruction of government to find any wrongdoing against these people, that’s why I say that it has a diversionary witch-hunt written all over it”, he said.
“The fundamental point is that essentially when you are appointed a minister or an MP, the government of Ghana owes you some money for the work that you do. For some reason, we have only unconventionally determined the emoluments at the end of their tenure perhaps because it is not the most comfortable subject to discuss because of public opinion and what have you so Presidents have tended to do it in the twilight of their administrations, now what we are paid is an advance and I know for a fact because I have checked, what I was paid was roughly half of what I was entitled to so when I left office and it was time to pay my ex-gratia, they also took that into consideration and paid me what was owed me”.
“When it was time for the ex-gratia payments to be computed, the minister of Finance wrote to the controller in November 2016 and indicated that there was the need to do this kind of reconciliation to show whether anybody had been paid more than they deserved or there were some of us who were paid far less than we deserved.
It turned out that there were people on the same rank as their colleagues who had been paid more than others and yet were still owed by the state, for those in that category, they received the top up. For those receiving less than their colleagues, they were upgraded in accordance with the prescriptions of the emolument committee and the ex-gratia was paid”, he explained.
Some NDC MPs have come under attack over allegations that they received salaries while serving as both Members of Parliament and Ministers or Deputy Ministers.
The Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service is currently investigating the matter and is inviting some accused persons for questioning.
Although it annulled the invitation of 18 out of the 25 accused persons last week, it said it would soon reinvite them to help in investigations.