Weeks after taking over from his departed boss, a worried President, John Dramani Mahama, summoned a group of five men to the Castle and assigned them the onerous responsibility of blocking revenue leakages at the nation’s ports and habours, and also tracing and retrieving lost revenues from importers, but this laudable presidential initiative, has been collapsed.
Impeccable information gathered by The Herald, reveals issue of revenue leakage, non-payment of the required taxes and other underhand dealing at the Tema Port, Takoradi Port, Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and Custom Bonded Warehouses, 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!