For Suspending EOCO Regional Director While Overlooking Maritime Boss’ Mess
The man, who postured as an apostle of the rule of law on his way to the Presidency; Flagstaff House, is living a totally different life and left many, including the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) in shock and despair.
The latest event is the administration’s suspension of the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) Eastern regional Director, Fred Dzeny, for asking the government to also deal with its appointees in the fight against corruption.
The suspension comes at a time president Akufo-Addo, has ignored mounting pressure on him to prove he abhors all forms of corruption by sacking the embattled Maritime Authority boss, Kwame Owusu, who is considered a close associate of the President.
Mr Owusu, continuous to keep his job, despite reports backed by documents, confirming mismanagement and conflict of interest, including spending about GH¢130,000 on an end of year party, over GH¢10,000 on lunch at LUXE SUITES; a hotel he owns, as well as an amount of GHC1 million cedis for the renovation of his 2-bedroom official residence, in a contract executed by his cousin’s company. He also bought and fixed 11 air-conditioners on the house.
The Eastern Regional Director of EOCO, Mr Dzeny, had in an interview said, government must have the political will to prosecute corrupt officials within its government before prosecuting others in the opposition.
According to him, “the ruling government should be ready first and foremost to prosecute their own when the slightest incident of corruption is raised against the ruling government then they can also get the guts to prosecute the opposition.”
He granted an interview to Kasapa News on the sidelines of a round- table discussion on “The Youth in the Fight Against Corruption in Ghana” in Koforidua – Eastern Region. It was organized by the National Youth Authority to mark African Youth Day under the theme” Raising Youth Voices against Corruption”.
“When you look at the corruption cases in Ghana, it is not just people who are in government that are corrupt, the public servants, civil servants they are all corrupt. When you look at it, it is the Chief Directors who prepare contract documents and other things, so if we are blaming the Politicians, it is not right, it is the public servants generally,” Mr Dzeny added.
The Eastern Regional EOCO boss, also appealed to government to resource the anti-corruption institutions to be able to execute their mandates satisfactorily, saying this is inhibiting EOCO in the fight against corruption.
However, the EOCO boss, ACP KK Amoah, on Monday issued a statement, saying that the conduct of Mr Dzeny is “against the ethical and professional standards of the Office. He has therefore been suspended and the matter referred to the appropriate unit for investigation.”
Interestingly, the last two weeks, have recorded several incidents which give indications that President Akufo-Addo’s pledge to fight corruption, protect the public purse, guarantee jobs and fundamental human rights, was mere hot air.
Firstly, was the dissolution of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Council and attempts to sack the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwesi Obiri-Danso, which backfired.
The autonomous tertiary institution is now grappling with government interference with government asking unions like Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to change their representative on the KNUST University Council.
This was followed by the Supreme Court last week, which overturned the High Court decision which led to the removal of Professor Mawutor Avoke, as Vice Chancellor of the University of Education (UEW), Winneba.
According to the unanimous ruling, the High Court in Winneba, failed to take evidence from the parties in the case before granting judgment.
This had come about, despite Professor Raymond Atuguba, warning to President Akufo-Addo, not to abet an illegality by going ahead with a planned induction of a new Vice Chancellor for UEW Rev. Prof. Fr. Anthony Afful-Broni, because there was a legal challenge. But the induction took place and was attended by the president.
With the events leading to the induction ceremony declared illegal by the Supreme Court, the President is yet to make any pronouncement on the matter, although at the ceremony he urged the disputed Vice Chancellor to “use his full gifts” to promote the spirit of reconciliation in the state-owned University, during his tenure of office.
“It is worth noting, however, that the stakeholders have acted within the confines of the law to ensure that this University has a substantive leadership in place to help it achieve the goals for which it was established. To all whose diverse efforts helped in restoring normalcy to UEW, you have the appreciation of a grateful nation,” President Akufo-Addo, had added.
According to him, his government has demonstrated its commitment to the growth of the University, “and we will help ensure that UEW fulfils its mandate. Our goal is to help restore the teaching profession to the status it once enjoyed, and make it an attractive career choice.”
President Akufo-Addo, was confident that the disputed Vice-Chancellor, was capable of not only steering the affairs of the University for the next four years, but also spurring it onto even greater heights.
Supreme Court later said that the Winneba High Court in December 2017, breached the rule of natural justice by failing to give the defendants a hearing, leading to the removal of Prof Avoke, together with some other Principal Officers of the University by the school’s Governing Council.
Some lecturers, had also described the action as politically motivated, but prior to the induction, Prof. Avoke’s lawyer, Raymond Atuguba, warned President Akufo-Addo that he would be abetting an illegality if he went ahead with the induction.
Prof. Atuguba, said he was alarmed by the President’s involvement given his “admirable Rule of Law credentials.”
Sometime during the trial, Prof. Atuguba, withdrew his representation of the former Vice-Chancellor in open court, because he “sensed unseen hands” manipulating proceedings.
Meanwhile, some civil Society organizations in the country, have roundly slammed the suspension of Mr Dzeny, over his comments on corruption.
In reaction, the Director for Advocacy and Policy Engagement at CDD, Dr. Kojo Pampuni Asante, stated that the suspension is shocking and very disturbing.
According to him, it smacks of intolerance on the part of government and an attempt to gag people from criticising the government.
“Suspending the EOCO Boss sends a wrong signal. The suspension should be lifted. I was really disappointed by this action…when you create an impression that people cannot comment on corruption because it will make some people uncomfortable, then we have a challenge and thus sends a wrong signal,” Dr. Asante told host Francis Abban.
Dr. Asante added that “the statement from the Regional Director is a positive one and I don’t think suspension is the way to go…the suspension doesn’t look good on government.”
Mary Addah, the Progress Manager at the GII, also described the suspension as disturbing and a very strange decision, and called on EOCO authorities to immediately lift the suspension.
“I am confused as to why somebody will be suspended because of what they have said…it beats me that anybody in any institution will try to stifle that right enshrined in Chapter 5 of our constitution. People can express their views…the provision under Chapter 5 in our constitution should be allowed to work.”
The position of the EOCO official was in tandem with former President John Mahama ,who challenged his successor to show true commitment to the fight against corruption by prosecuting corrupt members of his own government.
Mr Mahama had stated that “the easiest part in the fight against corruption is prosecuting your political opponent.”
“It does not take courage, it does not take bravery to prosecute one’s political opponent. The true test in the fight against corruption is holding your own people accountable when they go wrong… We must not pursue post regime accountability, we must pursue accountability while your regime exists.” Mr.Mahama has said.
The Eastern regional Boss of EOCO had also appealed to Government to resource the anti-corruption institutions to be able to execute their mandates satisfactorily. He bemoaned the Challenges facing EOCO adding that it is inhibiting it to the fight against corruption.
“We have serious challenges but all due to the economy but we believe when the economy picks up we will be well resourced but as at now the current state of the economy, this is what the government can do but I don’t think it is enough for us to really Police the system.”
He, however, added that, the Regional Office of EOCO has been investigating many tax evasion cases and succeeded in recouping the monies to government.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central constituency, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, has meanwhile launched a verbal blitzkrieg on two journalists; Komla Klutse of TV3 and Araba Koomson of Joy FM for the manner the duo went about reporting on how the Director General of the Maritime Authority, including spending GH¢1 million on renovation of his official residence.
Kwame Owusu, is said to be a bosom friend of the NPP politician.
Evidently not enthused by the negative media spotlight on his close pal, Kennedy Agyapong, launched a scathing attack on the media during a live radio interview on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme, Monday.
Quite characteristic of him, the noisy NPP MP, in his usual abrasive tone, took the two journalists to the cleaners by turning his firing cylinders on them.
“The journalists are accusing him of going overboard, if I was the one I would have said more, because I saw Araba. Someone sent the news video from US to me…I saw Araba of Joy TV, saying these are the kind of people we use our taxpayers’ money them…excuse me Araba! How much is your meager pay?” he quizzed.
“Kwame Owusu is a very good friend of mine and he tells me everything. Why have journalists in this country refused to do due diligence before accusing him of misappropriating funds?….The interesting thing is that anything you put on Facebook a lot of people watch…anyone interested in issues about Ghana watches and reads a story and has no means to check if it is correct or not. I will urge you to check the way you churn out some of your news. Sometimes when you are fed up with the negative news out there, you react,” he stated.
Clearly dripping with venom, it became quite obvious that not even the gentle prompts from the host, OB, to season his language and be decent, will have any effect as they passed by him as the idle wind.
“….look at your face, the man’s son has completed a law school in the UK. If Araba, claims she is intelligent, she should go and write an exam in the UK. Some journalists are so foolish and stupid they want to run down some respected persons. What nonsense is going on? And that other stupid one at TV3,” he fumed.