Ace Ankomah & Co To Exhume Dead Bus- Branding Saga After Occupy Flagstaff House Failure
With barely two weeks to go for the Presidential and parliamentary elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is not leaving any stone unturned, including the deployment of its surrogates institutions and individuals, who have feign independence and claimed to be nationalists, with the hope of making a last minute impact on the electorates.
One of such institution is the OccupyGhana Movement, whose leaders are either contesting on the ticket of the NPP as Parliamentary candidates or are busily campaigning for the opposition party on both mainstream media or social media to make the NPP Flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, president come January 7, 2017.
One of such NPP campaigns buried under the cloak of independent and objective-minded think tank, comes off this evening, at Christ the King Catholic Church Hall, Accra by OccupyGhana.
The event is on the theme; “How to Rape Ghana: The Smarttys Way” in reference to the Metro Mass Bus branding saga, which led to the resignation of Transport Minister, Dzifa Akua Ativor, last year.
Although, the controversy over the Smarttys bus branding and re-spraying case was settled some eight months ago, OccupyGhana run by Lawyer Ace Ankomah, Franklin Cudjoe, Akufo-Addo’s cousin, Ken Ofori-Attah, the NPP candidate for Awutu Senya West Constituency, George Andah, Sydney Casely-Hayford among others, are at pains to revive it to support the NPP’s claim of corruption in the Mahama government.
The same individuals behind Occupy Ghana, had failed to enter the seat of government through an Arab Spring-styled demonstration dubbed “Occupy Flagstaff House” in the name of the Middle Class citizens.
Advertisement on the OccupyGhana event, had been in the media since last week with publication in the pro-NPP newspaper, Daily Guide owned by Freddie Blay, the Acting National NPP Chairman.
A media invitation sent out to The Herald yesterday read “OccupyGhana is happy to request your presence and that of your media establishment on the occasion of its exposé of the events, actions, inactions, connivance, and collaborations of government and state officials that led to the siphoning of the 3.6 Million Ghana Cedi Smarttys cash from the country’s sweat-filled coffers”.
It claimed that “this event gives an illuminating blow-by-blow account of how the almost flawless plan to rip this country off was conceived, hatched and executed by named officials and statesmen and women who were under oath to prevent same from happening”.
An image accompanying the invitation posed a number of questions, including the non-prosecution of certain individuals on the Smarttys deal by the Attorney General, the role of the Controller and Accountant- General, the Public Procurement Authority, a certain Western Corridor Railway Project, Parliament, Finance Ministry, among others.
Interestingly, Smarttys Management and Production Limited, the company engaged by the Ministry of Transport to rebrand the Metro Mass busses, had made final payment in respect of the refund of moneys overpaid it for branding and re-spraying of 116 intra-city buses some 8 months ago.
It paid a balance of GH¢548,608.04, representing the final payment of GH¢1,548,608.04.
A letter dated March 31, 2016, and addressed to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and the Executive Director of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), announced the issuance of a cheque for the final payment of the refund.
Lawyers for Smarttys Management and Production Limited, Cromwell Gray Limited, accordingly attached a cheque for GH¢548,608.04.
“Kindly acknowledge receipt and accept the assurance of our highest consideration in bringing a closure to this matter,” the letter, signed by Kissi Agyebeng noted.
The company has, therefore, met the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice’s directive to it to make the payments on or before March 31, 2016 after an overpayment of GH¢1.5 million was established to have been made to it.
An amount of GH¢700,000 was paid on February 25, 2016.
That brought the amount to GH¢1 million paid by Smarttys Management and Production Limited out of the figure of GH¢1,548,608.04 to be refunded.
The first instalment was made in January 2016.
A letter attached to the cheque paid into the account of the EOCO stated “see attached a cheque (numbered 000014 Guaranty Trust Bank (Ghana)” intended as the settling of the agreed second instalment in the sum of Seven Hundred Thousand cedis (GH¢700,000) drawn on the Clients Account of Cromwell Gray LLP”.
The letter made reference to the Attorney General’s letters of December 29, 2015 and January 7, 2016 on the refunds to be made, and also made reference to modes of payment reached.
The letter of January 7, 2016 by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, which was addressed to Mr. Agyebeng, said a figure of GH¢1,548,608.04 had been arrived at as the amount to be refunded by Smarttys Management and Production Limited.
“In consultation with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance, this amount was arrived at taking into consideration the following factors raised in your letter, revised value added tax position, revised withholding tax position and a set off of GH¢27,173.74 withholding tax over deductions,” the letter added.
The letter indicated the acceptance of the request to pay the revised amount in full on or before March 31, 2016.
It said interest on the revised amount would be frozen subject to Smarttys Management and Production Limited making full payment of an amount between GH¢300,000 on or before January 29, 2016.
“The remainder is to be paid in two equal instalments on or before 29 February 2016 and March 31, 2016, respectively,” the letter said.
It directed that all payments should be made by cheque in the name of EOCO.
“Please be advised that government reserves the right to take all relevant actions or steps to recover all moneys owed together with interest accrued calculated at the prevailing bank rate from 29th January 2016 to date of final payment if you fail to make payment within the stipulated time,” the letter said.
Last year, investigations into the branding of 116 Metro Mass Transit Buses involving GH¢3.6million revealed that Smarttys over- billed the government to the tune of about GH¢1.9million.
The branding of the new Huanghai buses for the MMT with portraits of President John Mahama and past presidents caused public outcry, resulting in the resignation of the Minister of Transport, Ms Dzifa Attivor, in December.
Following the public outcry, the Chief of Staff, Mr. Julius Debrah, directed the Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah Opong to recover GH¢1.9million from Smarttys.
The Attorney General, presented her report on December 22, 2015, directing the refund of money found to have been overpaid to Smarttys in the contract.