…As NDC Executives Get Divided Over Bribe
By Alfred K. Dogbey
The under-fire Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ga-West, Sam Atukwei Quaye, has shockingly revealed selling 11 acres out of the about 19.06 acres Animal Research Institute land, belonging to the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for a paltry sum of GH300,000 to a private developer for construction of washing bay, a filling station, shopping mall, among others.
He explained that the municipal assembly, pocketed GH150, 000 out of the amount, whiles the remaining half was paid to officials at the Lands Commission through which the land was acquired, without the consent of the actual owners, the CSRI.
But the sale has left a bitter taste in the mouth of some officers of the Ga-West Municipality, with many questioning both the propriety of the sale and whether or not there was value for money.
They insisted that the land in question located at the Amasaman is more expensive than what the state derived from it. Indeed, there is suspicion among both officials of the municipality, as well as executives of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the locality.
A company, Unique Development Limited, owned by a certain wealthy businessman by name, Kwesi Ohene Tuffour alias Berchie, is said to have acquired the state land for the construction of a washing bay, filing station, shopping mall, depot and other projects on the 11 acre land.
Kwesi Ohene Tuffour, who is known for buying and selling lands, is said to be a crony of Sam Atukwei Quaye, the MCE. He is said to have boasted many times to friends about purchasing provision store for the Ga-West MCE at Haatso, which will be operated by his wife.
In a fruitless attempt to defend his action, the MCE said, “the entire 19.03acres, we had to lease part, through a PPP of 11 acres of which the assembly got GH¢ 300,000. We took about half of that money and paid Lands Commission to acquire the land through it”.
It was unclear what the mode of disbursement was and which official of the Land Commission got payment for a land that does not belong to the Commission, but rather the state-run CSRI.
The MCE, who made the shocking confession in an interview with The Herald two Saturdays ago, added that “the Assembly has rather profited from the whole arrangement……”
He admitted that, the stinking transactions happened at the blind side of the owners of the land, Animal Research Institute, which has a facility on the land.
Sam Atukwei Quaye told The Herald that the project which is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement
entered by the assembly, would last for a period of 45years, and would inure to the benefit of the people in the area.
Claims against the owner of Unique Development Limited, Kwesi Ohene Tuffour, a known NPP financier, are that he is a friend to one big man at the Lands Commission by name Alhassan, and that it was through the Lands Commission officer that the CSRI was ignored and legitimacy was given to the MCE to sell the state-owned land under questionable circumstances.
Mr. Atukwei Quaye himself told The Herald “Some of our own people are saying that we have given it [the contract] to NPP person, but that is not the point, they are confusing the whole thing”, the MCE stated.
The issue is said to have created serious confusion between Constituency Executives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Amasaman and Trobu Constituencies under the assembly.
The rift came about, following revelation that some Executives of the party, have secretly received monies in connection with the dirty deal to shut them up, without the knowledge of others.
Sources within the party’s leadership told The Herald that at one of the meetings held at the MCE’s residence, the bribery issue came up and became topical after a member confronted the Executives who had allegedly took bribe.
One of the beneficiaries, described as an honest man, somewhat confessed receiving the money, but added that it was given to them by the MCE for fuel.
Presently, a faction among the executives, especially those who benefited from the money are accusing their counterparts who were sidelined for leaking the issue to the media and the Office of the President.
The Constituency Organizer for Amasaman, identified only as Abdul Aziz, has been captured screaming on phone blaming certain party executives for failing to handle the matter properly, but allowing it to leak.
The gentleman, who is said to be in the good books of the MCE, also called The Herald’s News Editor, Abdul Razak Bawa to defend his boss after the story of the dirty land transaction, was published by this paper.
Aziz, claimed that, those who leaked the information are not helping the party at all.
The MCE, had claimed that government has tasked Assemblies to acquire lands. “As for acquiring land, it is good. The assembly as a whole authority, we need to have lands. Even government has advice us to acquire more lands, register them and own them”.
“If you don’t have lands, how can you develop? If you get chance to acquire land, you need to acquire it. Even this one is not big. If we get chance, we would even acquire more”.
But the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSIR Animal Research Institute, Dr. E.K Adu, angrily questioned “why do you sacrifice research for construction of filling station, mall and or lorry terminal”.
The director who described the move by the assembly as “kangaroo” style of acquiring the land, said they would resist the deal, stating “we find this very bizarre”.
The MCE, also rubbished claims that the land belongs to the CSIR, saying it rather belongs to the Pokuase Chiefs, before it was acquired by the government.
“The land doesn’t belong to CSIR, it was given to them by the Ministry of Agriculture to do some animal research”, stressing that the CSIR, has no capacity or mandate over the land.
According to him, the Assembly initially wrote to CSIR asking permission for the acquisition of land, but “the response from them wasn’t favourable. But I realized that the CSIR legally did not own the land”, so we decided to go straight to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Mr. Sam Atukwei, explained that the Assembly went to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and that he personally went and met the Minister, Fiifi Kwetey, who gave a “no objection letter” to go ahead and acquire the land.
Meanwhile, The Herald is informed that Agric Ministry officials and the CSIR are separately taking steps to retrieve the land from the private developers to preserve and protect the original intention of the land.
More to come!