A Former General Secretary of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, has told Ghanaians not to expect that government will prosecute any official involved in the controversial GHc3.6 million bus branding scandal. The vociferous Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie’s assertion is borne out of the conviction that government will always shield its people from prosecution.
Mr. Afriyie made the comment in relation to a leaked government report on the bus re-branding deal which among other things recommended that all officers who handled any aspect of the contract and flouted laid down procedures be investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office [EOCO].
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John in an interview with Citi News, said the presidency will protect all the implicated officials because “anything that has to do with bringing this government’s name into disrepute is always swept under the carpet by the NDC and John Mahama’s administration.”
Smarttys won’t pay
Sir John, a private legal practitioner, says the company at the centre of the scandal, Smarttys Limited, will not refund the money since the firm was clearly aided by government officials to loot the state.
“She was aided and abetted by people in higher authority, the presidency itself; they have a hand in that.”
He explained that the resignation of the Minister of Transport over the matter was just a cover-up, and that she was “made a sacrificial lamb on the altar of the president’s own image.”
“And so for me, I’m not surprised at all that the aspect which stated that people should be referred to EOCO for purposes of investigation and further prosecution was not made available to us. So they made it look like they’ve been asked to refund GHc 1.9 million but the other bit that we now know that the AG recommended, has not seen the light of day; and they will not do that because that is their stock in trade,” he added.
Government’s decision to spend GHc3.6 million of Ghana’s oil revenue on branding some 116 Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses has been widely criticized and described as reckless.
The scandal compelled the Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor to resign after a massive public outcry.
The Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, subsequently ordered the Attorney General to investigate the matter after which Smarttys was ordered to refund the excess payments made.
Meanwhile a leaked Attorney General’s investigation report suggests that the contract with Smarttys was commenced and concluded long before the procurement process started, a conduct that violated the nation’s procurement laws.
“The re-branding by Smarttys was commenced and concluded even before the procurement process began. This fact has been confirmed by both Smarttys and the Ministry of Transport. They attribute this lapse to the urgency attached to re-branding and spraying of the buses,” the report noted.
“An analysis of the documents clearly shows that several public officers were involved in the procurement and payment process. We therefore recommend that all officers who handled any aspect of these processes flouted the laid down legislation should be investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office [EOCO].”