Group Head of Corporate Affairs at the Tobinco Group, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, last week got elected President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), despite reports of financially inducing his colleague journalists across the country ahead of the polls.
Over 800 members of the GJA, took part in the June 24, 2022, election to elect the new national and regional executives, but there are claims that the money exchanged hands even during the polls, especially at the various state-owned media houses.
This is one of the keenly participated GJA elections in recent memory, however, it goes down as the election by journalists, where money from many sources played a significant role.
Soldiers and police officers, were also seen at some of the centers to the chagrin of some journalists
But the bribery reports contained in a petition filed against Mr Dwumfour, was swept under the carpet by the outgoing president, Roland Affail Monney’s administration and the election was allowed to go on in clear disregard for strict provisions of the GJA Constitution on matters of corrupting people to win an election.
A member of the GJA in the Western Region, Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu, had petitioned the election committee of the association headed by Lawyer Osei Kwadwo Adow to investigate and act on the allegation that Mr Dwumfour, had through a businessman and owner of Atinka Media Village, enticed journalists in the region with food and money to vote for him (Dwumfour) to protect his business interests, including the importation of pharmaceutical products from Indian.
Few years ago, Samuel Amo Tobbin, was in the news for importing some substandard pharmaceutical products from India into the country. The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had to step in upon discovery of the dangerous products and force him to either destroy them or return them to the manufacturer Bliss GVS.
The FDA under Dr Stephen K. Opuni at the time, feared that the products could harm or even kill consumers, who were mostly children.
Mr Dwumfour was the cleanup man for Mr Tobin, especially in the media. Dwumfour’s name had also come strongly in the procurements of some products for the Electoral Commission (EC) particularly hand sanitizers during the Voter registration exercise, as well as 2020 Election Day with colossal amounts mentioned as paid. He and Mr Tobin, were said to have fallen out because of the EC procurements.
Mr Aklorbortu’s petition had revealed that Mr Dwumfour “with tacit support from the Chairman of Tobinco Group of Company, Mr Amoh Tobbin, offered members of the GJA in good standing, offered each member seated(sic) [at a meeting], in addition to the buffet, an amount ¢500 (sic) to vote for Mr. Albert Dwumfour.”
The petitioner says the actions of Albert Dwumfour contravene “Article 52 (b) (c) and (d) GJA constitution 2004. It states ‘52 (b) it shall be an election offence for any candidate to directly or indirectly offer cash, favors, any incentives, or apply threats with the intention to influence the election results. (c) Any candidate found contravening the provisions of Article 52 (b) shall be disqualified after due investigation by the elections committee and (d) if found guilty, the candidate shall be barred from standing for any GJA elections for the next two (2) subsequent general elections.”
But the bribery allegations were ignored and at the end of the contest, Albert had 233 votes while his closest contender Gayheart Mensah, a Communications Consultant, had 181 votes. The Editor of the Ghanaian Times and former General Secretary of the GJA, Dave Agbenu, who was the third contestant had 143 votes.
The Chairman of the Elections Committee of the GJA, Osei Kwadwo Adow had resigned barely three days before the national executive elections, refusing to give reasons. But The Herald was informed that it was over the bribery allegations against Mr. Dwumfour which he had wanted to investigate but the outgoing executives won’t allow him.
Lawyer Adow, announced his resignation on Monday, June 20 through a letter to the outgoing President of the Association, Roland Affail Monney, citing “..reasons are personal”. Mr Affail Monney in response told Accra-based JoyNews that the Chairman, had been asked through a letter to resume his position as the date for the election is near.
“The decision by Lawyer Osei Kwadwo Adow Esq. to resign, has come close to the election and the implications will be dire if he goes ahead with the resignation.
“We were compelled by reality to persuade him to rescind his decision and I am inclined to believe that Lawyer Osei Kwadwo will come back and resume his position as Chairman of the Elections Committee,” he said.
Dr Monney added that after personally contacting the resigned chairman, he is convinced the latter will resume his position as the Chairman of the Elections Committee.
However, Lawyer Osei Kwadwo Adow told JoyNews that he has not yet received any letter requesting him to rescind his decision.
The petitioner had alleged that “Mr Amoh Tobbin, in the said meeting at the Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi, told journalists to vote for Mr. Dwumfour in order to protect and promote his business.
“He said during the previous administration (government), his business suffered under Mr Opuni and that he used the media to protect his interest. Therefore, voting for Mr. Albert Kwabena Dwumfour to become the GJA President will mean protection for his business interest.”
Short videos sighted by The Fourth Estate show Samuel Amoh Tobbin of the Tobinco Group of Companies and Albert Dwumfour in a meeting with some journalists in the Western Region.
Mr Tobbin is heard in the video saying if it were a political thing, he would ask, “Should I give a TV [set] or this or that”, which was greeted with laughter from the journalists present at the meeting.
“I will be of help because I’m in the industry and more so, I’m a businessman. So, I’ll need you tomorrow. If you come tomorrow after voting for him and I turn you down, Tobinco is a household name. Who knows tomorrow?” he said.
“I’m not a politician, who will say it and just go away. I’m a businessman. I’m in a lot of businesses. So do him [pointing to Albert Dwumfour] a favour. Do me a favour by bringing him. When you bring him… why I want you to bring him on board is to support my business as well. He’s my corporate person. He does all my social [activities],” he told the journalists.
This revelation comes at a time the GJA is accused of corporate and political capture. The contestants in next week’s election, including Albert Dwumfour, have promised to restore the association to its former glory.
Mr Dwumfour is the National Organiser of the GJA, whose tenure expired in 2020, but is yet to hand over because the election to choose new executives was not held.
He is also the Group Head for Corporate Affairs of the Tobinco Group of Companies.
A news portal, The Fourth Estate, said when it contacted him, he confirmed the said meeting with journalists and the Tobinco Group Chairman, and explained that Samuel Amoh Tobbin, happened to be in the Western Region for a separate event and his meeting with the journalists coincided with the venue Mr Tobbin was meeting other people, so his boss decided to sit in.
He said after the meeting, Mr Tobbin suggested to him (Mr Dwumfour) to give the journalists something and after consulting with him, the two agreed to give them 500 cedis each.
“He asked me whether I was leaving them like that. He asked about the number of delegates [in the Western Region] and I said about 20 and he said I should give all of them 500 cedis,” Mr. Dwumfour told The Fourth Estate.
He added that the Western GJA Regional Secretary, for the sake of Transparency, asked Mr. Tobbin to announce to all the journalists present the amount he was going to give to them.
“He told them, “My brother will take care of you, but it will be 500 cedis,’” Mr. Dwumfour quoted Samuel Amo Tobbin as telling the journalists present.
He said when Mr Tobbin, realised that the delegates in the Western Region, were not many, he said the 500 cedis should be extended to all the delegates, including those who were not present at that meeting.
Albert Dwumfour, however, denies the allegation that the money was a bribe. He said he had visited the Western Region alone four times and each time he had met with the delegates, he gave them money.
When this reporter asked how much he paid in the past, he said it ranged between 200 and 500 cedis. He said the petitioner was part of the meetings and he had even given the petitioner 500 cedis when he came to Accra.
“I was in Wa yesterday and I am in Bolga as we speak. I gave transportation (money) to every journalist that came to see me,” he told The Fourth Estate.
“Tobinco did not talk about his business benefiting from my election. He said, ‘If you vote for my brother, it’s like voting for journalists. I will sponsor your training workshop etc.’ He didn’t talk about his business interests,” he emphasised.