The Chief of Staff in the Office of President, has finally reacted to claims by the workers of Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) that she remote controls the day-to-day administration of the strategic institution.
In a letter sent to The Herald, by her lawyer, Gary Nimako Marfo of Marfo & Associates, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, threatened to drag the newspaper to the law courts over a publication she felt had a “criminal connotation” to defame her.
Within the threat of a legal action, she cleverly selected which of the workers’ concerns to react to.
Interestingly, The Herald, has obtained a letter by the Board Chairman of BOST, Ekow Hackman, revealing the involvement of the Chief of Staff in the affairs of BOST, which is under the Ministry of Energy.
The letter, dated July 21, 2022, says the Chief of Staff’s Office at Jubilee House had given approval for a management trip outside the country.
In the said letter, the Board Chairman, wrote to the workers, saying “please be informed that the ban did contain some exceptions and that all travel by management received the prior approval of the Chief of Staff’s Office at Jubilee House”.
The Herald, had in a couple of publications disclosed how the name of the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, is being thrown around by the management of BOST and board as authorizing certain decisions being taken at the institution.
The BOST workers, had detailed how Mrs. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, had been mentioned in the auction of some cars, the purchase of new ones, a foreign trips to some universities, including Harvard in the US among others, as having been authorized by her at a time when there is a freeze on government officials travelling out of the country due to austerity measures introduced by the Akufo-Addo government.
Other issues that The Herald reported on, had to do with variations in the agreement to purchase an office complex, procurement of furniture for the same at the cost of US$900,000, a GHc1 million monthly payments to the Ministry of Energy vaguely described as meant for “Budget Support”, the purchase of printers for EOCO, although same institution has regularly been investigating BOST and its dealings among other issues.
However, Gary Nimako’s letter on behalf of Madam Frema, only focused on the auctioned cars and ignored all the other concerns raised by the workers of BOST.
She explained that, the auction was done by a private company by name Manellis Mart Auctions.
The Herald, had been informed about some fraudulent disposal of some cars belonging to BOST.
The cars were disposed off under mysterious circumstances after an auction was halted midway in the name of the Chief of Staff .
Instead of the buyers expressing interest by quoting the prices they were willing to offer for each of the vehicles, a strange method was adopted and vehicles vanished and till date, the buyers remain unknown and the various amounts they paid also remain unknown.
Indeed, many officials at BOST, believe that the cars, most of which were in good condition, were allotted to politicians and other sympathizers of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) at knockdown prices.
Management is said to have mentioned the name of the Chief of Staff, as having taken over the disposal of the vehicles after torpedoing the planned auction per the regulations surrounding the disposal of such state-owned vehicles.
Madam Frema’s lawyers, have explained that “it is instructive to point it out to you that official records available to us show that the auction was conducted by Manellis Mart Auctions and payment of the said vehicles were directly effected into BOST Account at Stanbic Bank.
“We wish to further state that, the Notice of the Auction was published in the Daily Graphic, Friday, April 29, 2022 as follows; “AUCTION SALE OF UNSERVICEABLE VEHICLES AT BOST ON 06/05/2022 AT 10AM.” It is needless to point out that the auction of the said unserviceable vehicles was a public auction sanctioned by the Public Procurement Authority.
“Regrettably, you did not see the need to verify the source of your information from official sources because of your desperate attempt to malign and tarnish the hard won reputation of our client.
“We are instructed to point it out to you that the beneficiaries of the public auction had nothing to do with political party affiliation. It is unfortunate that you sought to drag the name of the Chief of Staff into decisions that are either purely Managerial or that of the Board of Directors of BOST.
“In view of the aforesaid, we are instructed to demand an immediate retraction and apology for the malicious and defamatory publication within twenty-four (24) hours upon receipt of this letter.
“Please be informed that we have our client’s firm instructions to commence legal proceedings against you to vindicate her grievances without further recourse to you should you fail to accede to our request within the period stated supra.
The Herald, is meanwhile following up to determine whether best practices were adopted in the disposal of these vehicles, including running checks at the State Transport Company (STC).
Interestingly, as her lawyers were writing to The Herald, the lawyers of BOST MD, Edwin Alfred Provencal, were also writing issuing a similar threat; their resolve to drag the Herald to court for defamation.
Just like the Chief of Staff’s lawyers, they demanded a retraction and unqualified apology “on behalf of our Client, Edwin Alfred Provencal, the Managing Director of Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST).”
They wrote “Our Client informs us that in your Wednesday, 3rd August to Thursday 4th August 2022 issue, with the headline “More Rot Emerge from BOST with Chief of Staff Named Again!” you published a defamatory story about him”.
In the said issue, you falsely and deliberately published certain words that imputes that our client has engaged in corrupt practices at BOST by reason of his position as the Managing Director of the Company.
The BOST MD’s letter signed one Charles Okyere, stated “our client says that the entire publication has tarnished his personal and professional reputation and, in particular, the following false allegations have put him in the right thinking members of society as a corrupt individual who has misappropriated and misapplied public funds.
“Secondly, the Herald is further informed about some unholy alliances between the management of BOST and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) that get procurement deals involving millions of dollars through, without any thorough scrutiny.
This is said to have created situations where there is no value for money in many of the procurements being done by the BOST management led by Edwin Provencal”.
“The Edwin Provencal-led management is also accused the dollar equivalent of GH¢13 million on the procurement of brand new 2020 Toyota Prados for all General managers, despite the Akufo-Addo government’s moratorium on purchasing of vehicles for state officials”.
“We have our client’s instruction to demand a retraction of the allegations in your said issue and to render an unqualified apology in your newspaper with the same prominence as that of the publication complained within seven (7) days from the date of receipt of this letter.
“Please be informed that we hold our client’s firm instructions to seek legal redress should you fail to heed to the demands of this letter without further recourse to you. Be advised accordingly
The Herald, has meanwhile sent out the letters from the lawyers to its lawyers for advice.