….For hijacking Christmas tree procurement but….
The Board Chairman of the Ghana Airport Company Ltd (GACL) has been told by the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to stop interfering with the day-to-day administration of the state-owned company.
The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, in a 55-page report dated October 30, 2023, further ordered Paul Adom-Otchere, to leave the administrative roles at GACL to the management.
Mr Adom-Otchere, was investigated by CHRAJ, following a petition filed by Sacut Amenga-Etego, who accused the Board Chair of violating various provisions of the Public Procurement Law and other rules, while procuring Christmas decorations for the company in 2021.
The Board Chairman, has since applauded CHRAJ for clearing him of any wrongdoing in the procurement processes in the acquisition of Christmas decorations, describing the verdict as a victory for Ghana’s democracy and a payoff for the years of contributions of stakeholders toward nurturing the country’s democracy.
Mr Adom-Otchere, in an interview on the Eyewitness News on Citi FM, however, denied portions of the report that indicated a subpoena was used to get some documents about the procurement from the board chairman.
It had emerged from the investigations that, the actual value of the Christmas inspirations was GH¢128,000 and not GH¢118,000 as alleged by the Board Chairman of the GACL.
CHRAJ, also noted that “The interference by the Respondent in the procurement of Christmas inspirations by the Management of GACL in 2021 amounted to an abuse of office.
It further said that “the interference of the Respondent in the procurement of Christmas trees by the GACL and communications by him were contrary to the principles of corporate governance.
Additionally, “the transaction was split into two (2) contrary to the provisions of Act 663 as amended.
The decision comes after the commission concluded in its investigations that, Mr Adom-Otchere, abused his office as the Board Chairman of the GACL, when he interfered in the procurement of Christmas inspirations by Management of GAGL in 2021.
“The interference of Mr Otchere in the procurement of Christmas trees by the GACL and communications by him were contrary to the principles of corporate governance”, the Commissioner stated in his 55-page report.
The Respondent, did not state on the January 7, 2022 edition of the “Good Evening Ghana” programme on Metro TV that he used public funds to procure Christmas inspirations.
The Respondent, did not state that he invited two (2) vendors to submit quotations.
The Respondent did not invite suppliers to submit quotations.
The Respondent did not receive quotations amounting to GHS118, 000.00.
The Respondent, partly interfered in the procurement of Christmas inspirations by the GACL in 2021 by making demands for Invoices.
The interference by the Respondent in the procurement of Christmas inspirations by the Management of GACL in 2021 amounted to abuse of office.
The Respondent communicated in the media on matters relating to the procurement of the Christmas inspirations by the GACL.
The interference of the Respondent in the procurement of Christmas trees by the GACL and communications by him were contrary to the principles of corporate governance.
The GACL, has over the years from 2018 to date been renting Christmas inspirations without recourse to the Procurement Act, 2003(Act 663) as amended.
The Christmas inspirations for 2021 were valued at GHS128, 000.00 and not GHS118, 000 as alleged by the Respondent.
The transaction was split into two (2) contrary to the provisions of Act 663 as amended.
Additionally, Mr Adom-Otchere, has been ordered to desist from using the media as a means of commenting on GACL procurement issues either in his personal capacity or as Board Chairman, as long as he remains on the Board of GACL.
The commission, also found that the GACL, has since 2018 been renting Christmas inspirations without recourse to the Procurement Act, (Act 663).
GACL has, therefore, been ordered to apply the provisions of the Act in renting Christmas inspirations and any other renting situations they may engage in.
In the petition dated January 31, 2022, Amenga-Etego, alleged procurement breaches and the abuse of office against Mr Adom-Otchere in the procurement of the Christmas inspirations worth GH¢128, 000 by GACL in 2021.
As part of his reliefs, the complainant wanted a declaration that Mr Adom-Otchere, breached several provisions of the Public Procurement Law, the Public Financial Management Law and principles of corporate governance in the procurement of Christmas tree decorations in December 2021;
“An order directed at the Ghana Airports Company Ltd (GACL) to surcharge the Respondent for the amounts involved in the procurement breaches and to recommend his removal as Board Chairman; and
“A reference by the Commission to the appropriate authorities of its investigations and recommendation for the prosecution of Mr Otchere,” the petitioner stated in his petition.
In its report, CHRAJ said its investigations did not reveal that Mr Adom-Otchere breached several provisions of Act 663 adding: “The procurement of the Christmas inspirations was done by the management albeit with some active participation by the Respondent in the sense that he requested for an Invoice from one of the suppliers, Favors and Arts”.
On the second relief, CHRAJ, said its investigations did not reveal that Mr Adom-Otchere benefited in any way from the breaches that occasioned the procurement of the Christmas inspirations.
Accordingly, the commission said there was no justification to make a surcharge order directed at him and recommending his removal as Board Chairman.
“Our investigations have also not revealed any facts pointing to any criminal offence committed by the Respondent.
“For that reason, we are unable to refer him to any authority for further investigations. We do not find any merit in recommending him for prosecution by the Attorney-General. In effect, we are unable to grant relief three.
The GACL, should henceforth apply the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2003(Act 663) as amended in the renting of Christmas inspirations and all renting situations it may engage in.
The Respondent should desist henceforth from commenting on procurement issues either in his capacity or as Board issues in the GACL in the media either in his capacity or as Board Chairman so long as he remains on the Board of the GACL.
The Respondent should desist from interfering in the day-to-day administration of the GACL and leave same to management.
The Public Procurement Authority, should take steps to cause the amendment of Act 663 to clearly include an interpretation of the terminology “procurement”.
Mr Adom-Otchere, had said “I commend the work that CHRAJ has done. They sat on this matter and I appeared before the Commission three times and staff of the GACL appeared before the Commission three or more times. The Commission appeared to have done a thorough job and it excites me that these things are fundamental pillars of our democracy. It makes me feel that our democracy is working better than what you will find in other democracies in Africa.
He said, “The fact that CHRAJ called all of us and went through the process without prejudice encourages me that all the work that we have been doing over the last several years in helping the democracy to stand has not gone in vain.”
“I don’t know about that because I appeared before them three times and gave them the documents. That did not happen as they put it because I was unaware that CHRAJ had invited me. They sent letters to institutions and so apparently, they couldn’t hear from me, an investigator called me and said they were looking for me and I said I was unaware that they were looking for me.
“So I went on a Monday and they said they were looking for some documents and I told them I would provide the documents and I gave them the documents and I am not so sure why they put it in there, but I guess that they were recounting all that had happened.”