Peter Amewu’s National Cathedral Mess Uncovered

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Secret Letter Reveals Running BoG, SSNIT, GRA Into Multi Million Dollar Trouble

Alarm bells have gone off, cautioning the government it will pay hundreds of millions of United States dollars to relocate sensitive Information and communication technology or (ICT) services provider for some key institutions, if it insists on building the National Cathedral at its planned location.

The affected service providers, have warned that their property hosts sensitive and expensive IT infrastructure for many state entities, including the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and other key corporate organizations both home and abroad.

A letter intercepted by The Herald revealed that, John Peter Amewu, who left the Land Ministry not long ago, was not truthful with Ghanaians, when he claimed that the state of Ghana, was not going to incur any financial obligation over the construction of the National Cathedral.

The letter dated June 12, 2018, further portrays the National Cathedral Secretariat at the Presidency; the Flagstaff House, Prof Paul Frimpong-Manso, the General Overseer of the Assemblies of God Church, member of the National Cathedral Construction Committee and Most Reverend Dr. Samuel Asante-Antwi, who chairs the committee, as lacking in-depth knowledge on the project, especially the harm and financial burden it will cause.

Lawyers of the ICT service provider, who are in a private property are objecting to a quit order served on them to immediately vacate their area because it has been earmarked for construction of the controversial national cathedral, but the company warned it would cost government millions of dollars to take over their land, as well as time to restore the expensive ICT Infrastructures built for BoG, SSNIT, GRA and others.

“Our client’s instructions to us are that, at all times material to your letter to which we hereby respond, our client’s property hosts, its (our client’s) satellite hub and is a major fibre optic aggregation point providing data connectivity services to among others; the Customs Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Bank of Ghana (BOG), the entire banking network for cheque clearing, Central Security Depository (CSD), Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), various government agencies and other corporate offices in Ghana and across west Africa”, the lawyer had said in their letter on behalf their clients.

The then Lands Minister wrote on May 30, 2018 to communicate government’s plan to pay the company compensation to acquire the land for purposes of the cathedral project. But the owners, through their lawyers, replied in letter dated 12th June 2018, complaining about short notice and warning it will cost government millions of dollars.

Interestingly, neither Mr Amewu, who is now the Energy Minister nor any other member of the Akufo-Addo government has spoken about the warning served on them.

Indeed, the document has been hidden from the public to only focus on the Passport Office, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Judicial Training School and the nine bungalows occupied by the Court of Appeal Judges.

According to the owners, while the period given for relocation is practically impossible as it will cause major disruptions in the sensitive services provided to government and other clients, it will also cause violations of the contracts they have entered into with the various state entities.

The letters cited by The Herald, stated among other things that the “ disruption in the services provided by our client to the aforesaid institutions will not only have serious contractual and financial implications, but will cause immeasurable hardship to the businesses of the said institutions some of which are vital to the functions of government.”

They stated that, although government was allowed by law to take over private property and pay compensation, the purpose must be that “the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning or the development or utilization of property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit”.

They argue that “our view being that, it being doubtful that the acquisition of our client’s interest in the property can be justified on any of the aforesaid grounds given the heterogeneous nature of the Ghanaian society in terms of religion.”

This is yet further evidence that government’s initial claim corroborated by the group of clergy for the cathedral that the project comes at no cost to the taxpayer was a naked pure lie.

Details seen by this newspaper portrayed Mr Amewu, the National Cathedral Secretariat and the clergy as unconcerned about key state institutions that would be paralyzed by the process of relocating this company, leaving taxpayers to bear the millions of dollars involved in the relocation exercise.

The five-page letter was copied to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, the Chairman of the Lands Commission, the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission and others.

It is unclear, whether the current Minister of Lands, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, has been shown this letter and how he plans to resolve the matter in the face of the legal tussle and judgment debts running into millions of dollars that the company is likely to be awarded if it heads to court.

Parts of the letter stated that

“Our client’s instructions to us are that it (our client) is assignee of a property covering an area of 1.13 acres which falls within the area of land the subject matter of your letter. Being the current owner in possession of the property apart, we have been instructed by our client that it (our client) is actively carrying on its business activities from the aforesaid property”.

Our client’s instructions to us are that, at all times material to your letter to which we hereby respond, our client’s property hosts, its (our client’s) satellite hub and is a major fibre optic aggregation point providing data connectivity services to among others; the Customs Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Bank of Ghana (BOG), the entire banking network for cheque clearing, Central Security Depository (CSD), Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), various government agencies and other corporate offices in Ghana and across west Africa.

“We have our client’s instructions to inform you that the services it provides to the institutions mentioned at paragraph 5.0 above are secured by strong service level agreements with the effect that any disruption in the services provided by our client to the aforesaid institutions will not only have serious contractual and financial implications, but will cause immeasurable hardship to the businesses of the said institutions some of which are vital to the functions of government’.

We have our client’s additional instructions to inform you that the point made at paragraph 6.0 only forms part of the consequences that will definitely result from a disruption of our client’s business operations and that our client is willing to give further details of the effect of ceasing operations within the time specified in your letter.

Further to the points made at paragraphs 6.0 and 7.0 above, a relocation or our client’s business operations, as per our instructions will require and involve a huge investment outlay, with attendant loss of business to our client during the period.

We have accordingly been instructed by our client that the points stated in paragraphs 4.0 to 8.0 above constitute the reasons for which our client is unable to migrate from its property within the time specified in your latter especially that migrating from the property will cost millions of dollars.

 

 

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