Impeccable information from the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC) under the Ministry of Communications, has revealed a sorry state of affairs, procurement irregularities, mismanagement and daylight thievery of government properties with superior officers, either looking on unconcerned or are neck deep in the crimes against the state.
The Herald, has landed several documentary proof, showing how some 261 HP Desktop Computers and 10 air conditioners got stolen from the warehouse of GIFEC, without any trace or any serious attempts to investigate and prosecute those behind the theft. The stolen items run into hundreds of thousands of Ghana cedis.
However, insiders have told The Herald that on records, 261 have been stolen, but in reality, the actual number is about 302 and the air conditioners number 13, and although management of the institution headed by Abraham Kofi Asante is adequately aware of the theft detected as far back as February last year, but there are no elaborate plan to track down the culprits.
Aside the computers and the air conditioners, The Herald noted that some computer accessories, internet routers, several laptops and top digital boxes, have also gone missing at GIFEC, which has Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications as its board chairperson. Many have said, she is not on top of her supervisory responsibilities, hence mostly dismissive.
This paper learnt that, management did not move immediately to retrieve and examine CCTV footages at the premises of the warehouse; the 2nd Floor of the Data Centre of National Information Technology Agency (NITA) when its attention was drawn to the theft. Interestingly, it rather allowed the footage to be erased three months after the crime was detected.
Additionally, when the matter was reported to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, management failed to make some key officers available to assist with investigations into the crime.
It was further alleged that, management begun an elaborate plan to carry out what many suspect to be a grand scheme to cover up the crime.
There was also an internal investigation into the matter, a committee was set up by management, but again some key officers who could have assisted with investigations did not show up and management did not reprimand them.
Amazingly, while the police investigation has been hanged, an officer at GIFEC by name Desire Akakpoe, was brought down from Kumasi ICT training center to allegedly cover up the theft. He is reported to have enjoyed some underserved foreign trips to Kenya and Rwanda at the behest of the GIFEC boss, and hence working according to his bosses detects.
There are reports that memos are being forged and backdated and sometimes postdated to claim that the computers, had been assigned to key personalities and institutions.
Interestingly, there are no waybills and corresponding contacts to ascertain the receipt of the devices from GIFEC. In some cases also, requisitions forms have been missing.
Some of Desire Akakpoe’s documents stating that the items had been distributed, was robustly probed by auditors, who demanded contact names and numbers of the beneficiaries, but Mr Akakpoe, could not provide them. The GIFEC boss, Mr Asante, has also remained uncooperative and supposedly running away from all audit queries.
The Herald is informed when Mr Asante was appointed to head GIFEC, the institution was operating it warehouse at Osu CITA warehouse, but he closed it down and went to acquire a place at NITA Data Center where they kept the computers.
Later Emmanuel Etroo, storekeeper was sent on Distribution and got back to notice that the 302 computers and 13 Air-conditioners, could not be found in the warehouse.
A report was made by Emmanuel Etroo on the missing items, but management refused to act for three months, when they know that the CCTV camera at the place cannot store information beyond three months and when the committee was set up to investigate the missing items, they could not find any video footage in the CCTV system
The report is with internal audit, but they refused to release or act upon the committee recommendation since one John Essah, a nephew of the GIFEC boss and his party recruits, were implicated.
A report to management which is in the possession of The Herald, had confirmed the store to be the 2nd floor of the Data Centre of NITA.
The report further disclosed that the store does not contain “only items of GIFEC, but that of other institutions such as NITA, Ghana Post Office and others”.
“To be able to take over from the previous stores officer in the person of John Ahiagbeame, a stock count was conducted on 27th February 2018 by the underlisted members of staff for which the stores officer of National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in the person of Eric Obeng Baseley was not present because he indicated that he was not responsible for GIFEC items: John Ahiagbeame (Past Stores Officer), Emmanuel Etroo (Current Stores Officer), Elwyn Okudzato (Manager, Audit), Anthony Zormelo (Assistant Manager, Audit).
Emmanuel Etroo’s report on the missing computers, said “upon the stock count, we realized some discrepancies in the physical stock count and the stores ledger books. Please find attached a memo that was written with regard to the discrepancies on April 13, 2018 to management. This memo was responded to by the former stores officer of GIFEC through the Audit report. Attached is the response to the Audit report”.
“It was later agreed by John Ahiagbeame Assistant Manager, Stores (Past Stores Officer), Emmanuel Etroo Assistant Manager, Stores (Current Stores Officer), Elwyn Okudzato (Manager, Audit), Anthony Zormelo (Assistant Manager, Audit) that due to lack of light in some part of the warehouse where our items are kept and how items are arranged which made it difficult for a proper stock count to take place, we wait for a major distribution to take place in order to reduce the quantity of items in stock so a recount of stock could be done”, the report said.
“After a major distribution, I realized that 261 HP desktop computers 3 air conditioners could not be located in the warehouse. Upon this, the underlisted checks were made by me.“I checked and rechecked my books, approval letters, waybills and the warehouse with some colleagues to be certain on the missing items but could not locate the 261 HP desktop computers”, adding “I asked the stores officer at NITA if he has released some computers to a staff of GIFEC and his answer was in the negative”.
“I also enquired of the missing HP Desktop computers from John Essah Principal Assistant, Transport (who seconds as the stores Officer). He also answered in the negative”, Emmanuel Etroo said in his report.
It said “I have asked the security Officers at the office complex of any irregular activities around the warehouse and if any truck had come to pick some equipment from the warehouse, they said they had not noticed anything out of the ordinary, but advised that we take a look at the CCTV footage. The CCTV footage was not requested because management of GIFEC needed to be informed of the missing items”.
He revealed that how “a team comprising of Deborah Bah Lano (Assistant Manager, Programs), Latif Amidu (Intern) and myself later realized that some 25 HP desktop computers that have been signed by Deborah Bah Lano and awaiting pickup have been tempered with. Out of the 25 computers, 20 of these computers were emptied and the empty boxes turned upside down and arranged how they were arranged before they were emptied. We also realized that a set top box which contains 5 pieces have been emptied and separated from where all the set top boxes have been arranged. This emptied set top box now have moved from that location”.
“This was verbally communicated to the senior finance manager of GIFEC and the Acting Director Finance and Administration of GIFEC”.
He went on to explained that “Normally, the stores officer at NITA is contacted on phone since he is the only person with the keys to the warehouse before I move with my team (the team here is dependent on the availability of people to help with the carrying) to sign in at their reception and then move to the warehouse. He then opens the place and depending on the quantity needed he decide to stay or leave. He leaves because, he has been indicating that, he is not responsible for GIFEC’s items in the warehouse since he is not working for GIFEC and no one pays him anything. But to get my job done successfully and on time, I sometimes have to offer him launch just to come and open the place. He also gets paid like any other person helping to pack the items whenever he decides to help.
These items are then counted by me in the warehouse to get the total quantity to be moved before they are packed five in a roll at the elevator for recounting. A recounting is done again when the items have been loaded on to the truck with the driver before departure, adding “In my absence, John Essah (Principal Assistant, Transport) is the only staff of GIFEC authorized to issue and receipt of items”.
More to come!