The media cum public interests shown in the work of the Presidential Taskforce setup by President John Dramani Mahama, has become the source of harassment, blackmail and extortion for some unscrupulous members of the unit, operating from the seat of government; The Flagstaff House.
Currently, on the lips of some officials of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), Indians and Lebanese nationals and even inside the Flagstaff House, is how some members of the Taskforce extorted GH¢25,000 from officials of an Indian company, threatening to have the media deal with them.
The Indian officials, afraid of how bad any publicity, will negatively affect the image of the company coughed up the cash to the Taskforce to safeguard the image of their company.
The Herald is informed that the issue of the extortion, was reported to some key officials inside the Flagstaff House, but they incidentally sat on the damning report, allowing the specific members of the group to continue their dirty activities in the name of President Mahama.
The names of the of the officers involved in the extortion, as well as details of the company involved have all been released to The Herald. Also available are the details of President Mahama’s trusted men inside the Flagstaff House, who did nothing about the issue to avoid bringing disgrace to the Presidency.
Meanwhile, one Senior Tax Collector at CEPS and a member of the Unit by name Emmanuel Amuzu, who allegedly got entangled in a similar dirty case, using the name of the Taskforce to his own ends was sacked, but those with the right connections from Kpando in the Volta Region, were spared.
The Herald last Monday, revealed issue of the revenue leakage, non-payment of the required taxes and other underhand dealings at the Tema Port, Takoradi and Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and Custom Bonded Warehouse are back with the state losing billion of cedis daily.
The situation has been attributed to the ineffectiveness of the Chief of Staff, Prosper Douglas Bani, to ensure that the Presidential Taskforce, which was put under his purview protects revenue from going into the private pockets of the unscrupulous individuals.
The taskforce, raked over GH¢700 million into government coffers. A large portion of the cash was collected from tax evaders, who are mostly foreigners with Lebanese and Indian importers and exporters as the worse culprits, but its present state is nothing to write home about.
Among the charges The Herald gathered are personal interests and naked cronyism in the running of the taskforce.
For instance, a certain Nii Dim Barima, a UK-returnee who The Herald learnt was a classmate of the Chief of Staff in the University of Ghana (UG) Legon, was made to take over the operations of the Presidential Taskforce from an ex-Assistant Commissioner of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), whose name was only given as Edward Boakye.
Again, not only was the group taken over by inexperience men, most members of the group are from Kpando in the Volta Region, the hometown of the Chief of Staff.
Indeed, The Herald is reliably informed that one of the blood brothers of the Chief of Staff , called Benoni Bani, was roped into the taskforce as member, although the ex-BNI staff, had no expertise on the operations of the unit.
One Frank Nitti alias “Okoro”, also from Kpando and works in the Office of the President, later joined the group. He later brought onboard Gideon Atsi and a retired Air Force Officer, WO1 William Suleman, both from Kpando.
Insiders tell The Herald that presently, the Presidential Taskforce does not exists as the core group of five officers drawn from the National Security Secretariat, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Armed Forces and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), have gone back to their various institutions.
They include; Major Dei Allorsey, Lawrence Anangah, Charles Domi, DPS Fred Lumor and ex-CEPS Assistance Commissioner, Edward Boakye. They have returned to their various institutions, leaving “the Kpando boys” to play their games.
The Unit, over the past months, has been accused of harassing importers and other businessmen. Indeed, inside the Flagstaff House; the seat of government, information is rife that some of the members of the taskforce have been seen driving sleek fresh Mercedes-Benz and other luxurious vehicles with their girlfriends.
Other members, were also mentioned to be putting up huge mansions at various locations, apparently profiting from the revenue loss and financial loopholes, defeating President Mahama’s praiseworthy objective.
When The Herald contacted the Spokesperson for the Presidential Taskforce, Dr. Clement Apaak on the current state of the taskforce and whether or not the unit has collapsed, he said “the taskforce is extremely working”.
According to him, “It is only if and when we have specific information to take action that is when you see the outward manifestations, other than that, most of the works are done in the background”.
He said, “just because nobody has seen us raiding warehouses, does not mean the Unit is not working. There is a lots of work ongoing, bigger things have been uncovered and more monies have even been collected”.
He promised to give additional information on the taskforce later after seeking clearance.
But insiders argued that technically, the taskforce is no longer working but “what is left is some young men going about pestering corrupt importers and exporters and collecting monies into their private pockets”.
They are also said to be drawing allowances from the Flagstaff House in the name of the Presidential Taskforce.
Additionally, The Herald learnt that “the Kpando boys”, hurriedly assemble some CEPS officials to storm offices and institution to collect money, under the guise of working for the President.
“No intelligence is been gathered, no arrest is being made and no money is being retrieved into state coffers”, one of the insiders disclosed.
The goal of the affable President, John Mahama for setting up the Taskforce was to raise money to meet the challenges of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) and other developmental challenges, such as the construction of roads, hospitals and the 200 Community Day Senior Secondary Schools (SSS), but that objective has been thrown to the dogs by some of his key appointees.
More to come!