Defense Minister & Others Hide Helicopters’ File

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As Gov’t Blows GHC825, 000 On Shoddy Forensic Investigation

Impeccable sources within the Ghana Armed Forces has revealed to The Herald that the Minister of Defense, has clung onto facts, figures and documents surrounding the Ghana Gas Helicopters and training of officers of the Ghana Air Force, preventing the soldiers from setting the records straight.

Dominic Aduna Bingab Nitiwul, this paper is informed has been briefed by the military high command on the aircrafts, training of 20 Ghana Airforce Officers in America and the construction of a hangar at Tamale in Northern Region, which also came with the 2015 transaction, yet he has decided to sit on the facts allowing Akufo-Addo government and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) play politics with the military.

While the Defense Minister hangs on to the fact, the Ghana Gas Board made up of Christine Churcher Chairperson, Andrew Mercer, Awulae Amihere Kpanyinli, Stephen Nayina, Delphine Dogbegah, Abraham Aidooh. Nana Owusu Ababio, Joseph Acolatse and Ben Asante, are also busily approving aspects of the transaction which the Akufo-Addo government had delayed for one and half years.

The   government desirous of prosecuting elements of the Mahama administration, has wasted a whopping Eight Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand, Ghana Cedis (GHC825, 000) paying Morrison and Associates to investigate this transaction, claiming the helicopters were not bought, although monies had been dolled out.  Ghana Gas is paying GHC825, 000.

But while the Ghana Gas Board, also secretly approve of the transactions, Ernest Owusu-Bempah, the Communication Director of Ghana Gas, is uninformed on the subject.

He claimed that, the four helicopters cost US$100million, although the audit letter signed by former Auditor General, Edward Dua-Agyeman statedUS$54,800,000 as the cost of the four helicopters. Mr Dua-Agyeman’s figure of US$54,800,000 means one helicopter cost US$13,700,000.

Again, although Owusu Bempah, claimed that no hangar was built for the helicopters, military sources have told this paper and indeed, they are pictures of the hangar in Tamale.

It was completed and handed over to the Ghana Armed Forces in September 2016; a year after the helicopters were commissioned and handed over to Ghana Air Force.

Again, Owusu Bempah, had said no pilots were trained even though Ghana Gas collected US$1.8 million for that purpose. However, this has been disputed with information available to The Herald that a total of 16 pilots and 4 instructors, were trained at about 40,000$ each.

It was further disclosed that, the Chinese Development Bank (CDB) did not send any monies directly to Ghana, but paid all training monies directly to the Pilot Training Schools and the 20 pilots were trained directly through Ghana Armed Forces.

The schools include; Flight Safety International, for fixed-wing pilot training and the Bristow Academy for rotary-wing trainingin Florida, USA.

In 2015, the Ghana Air Force sent student-pilots to train at the facilities. Six officers went through fix-wing training, while another six went through rotary-wing training, while one officer went through rotary-wing as instructor. While in 2016, four rotary-wing pilots were trained, one fixed-wing pilot, was also trained as an instructor and two others received rotary-wing also with instructor ratings.

Thus, a total of 20 pilots were trained ab-initio or given instructor rating.

The average all-inclusive amount for training a fixed wing pilot is $90,000, and a rotary-wing pilot is $100, 00.

The fees include air ticket, living allowance, accommodation, ground school tuition, fly-by-hour tuition, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), US standard aviation medicals, stage checks, check rides for Private Pilot Licence (PPL), Commercial Pilot Licence(CPL) and Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) and ground transportation.

The claim by Mr Bempah that the helicopters, have not been used for the purposes for which they were acquired, has also been discounted as they were acquired primarily for the oil and gas zone in Western Region.

The Herald is informed that after the initial conversion training and mastering of the aircrafts, they were detached by GAF in 2017 to Takoradi.

Currently the aircrafts are being used for Training/conversion of new helicopter pilots, to support Ghana Gas activities, to augment the Diamond aircraft for maritime recce and, to support Ops Vanguard activities in the West.

This paper further learnt that since the NPP took over from NDC administration,the helicopters have been used by President Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and many Ministers of State and other government officials for one official duty or the other.

Remember that Ghana Gas did not have the capacity to negotiate on helicopters buying, pilot training among other so right from the start the Ghana Air Force negotiated everything – price, specs, pilot training at and indeed, chose the pilots to be trained in the US.

Owusu Bempah’s claim that an amount was set aside in the contract for the purchase of Ground Support Equipment, but we did not purchase the equipment was declared untrue. GAF, apparently said they didn’t need the extra equipment immediately.

It was also leant that the Chinese Bank transfers such monies directly to the manufacturer or seller of the equipment.

This paper leant that an amount has been set aside as a provisional sum for ground equipment, and it’s in the custody of the Chinese to pay for any transaction as far as the aircrafts were concerned.

Additional information available to The Herald is that when management changed hands at Ghana Gas, there was a serious stalling in all activities the company, however, Air Force has since provided a list of equipment, and Ghana Gas has since scrutinized the list and approved it after several meetings with the teams from CATIC;a Chinese Manufacturing Co.

Ghana Gas, has subsequently authorized utilization of the funds for the purpose, and CATIC is organizing the equipment for shipment to Ghana. It is hoped that the Ghana Armed Forceswill soon take delivery of the equipment; something Mr Bempah, could have easily gotten for his superiors.

This means that the current board and management delayed the process for one year and nine months. The new board is composed of Christine Churcher as Chairperson, Secondi MP Andrew Mercer, Awulae Amihere Kpanyinli,

Stephen Nayina, Delphine Dogbegah, Abraham Aidooh, Nana Owusu Ababio ,Joseph Acolatse and Ben Asante.

It also means that the current Board and Management of Ghana Gas is aware that no monies have been misappropriated by the Kwesi Botchwey Board and that they have now approved disbursement of the funds for the equipment.

The current Board and Management are aware that they are the ones who have delayed the process and that the funds are still intact and the Ghana Gas Communications Director, has deliberately been misleading the public by peddling falsehood.

It was revealed that in September 2015 when the four helicopters were commissioned and handed over in a public ceremony to GAF, the Kwesi Botchway board was then at post.

However, on February 4, 2016, the board was changed with John Yao Klinogo as chairman, Alexander Mould as member, Awulae Amihere Kpanyinli and Vivienne Gadzekpo as members, they were at post till government changed hands in 2017.

Meanwhile, Dr. Valerie Sawyerr, a Deputy Chief of Staff under former President John Mahama, who was a member of the Kwesi Botchway board, has sued Ernest Owusu-Bempah, the Communication Director of Ghana Gas for peddling falsehood and soiling her image in the process.

Dr. Sawyerr, has also in separate suit dragged the Attorney General to court, the Economic and Organised Crime Unit (EOCO) and its Executive Secretary, ACP KK Amoah to court over the report by Morrison and Associates, seeking to clear her name in the lopsided report.

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