… Abandons National Cathedral project to avoid blame similar to his Procurement Authourity days
The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, is shaping up as someone who is quick to run away from blame at the least sight of trouble at state institutions where he has been appointed to positions of trust and required to exercise an oversight responsibility.
In circulation is a letter from Godfred Yeboah Dame, as having resigned seven months ago, from the position of Secretary to the Executive Council of the National Cathedral project, which has heavily been buried in controversy, including misappropriation of funds.
This is the second time Mr Dame has taken to his heels running away apparently from a position of trust. The first was when he served as a board member of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) in his capacity as the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
He is the first government official to resign after the resignation of pastors, Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of International Central Gospel Church; Dag Heward-Mills, founder and leader of the Lighthouse Chapel International; and Cephas Omenyo, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr Dame, had distanced himself from activities of the PPA Board after “Contract for Sale” scandal in August 2019, involving the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adjenim Boateng Adjei.
The abrasive Godfred Dame, per the document circulating, tendered his resignation letter to the Executive Council of the National Cathedral of Ghana on Thursday, January 19, 2023, citing the heavy demands of his office as the reason behind his action.
The National Cathedral project, has also been embroiled in illegal payments, award of contracts without competitive tender, multiple identity crises involving Rev. Victor Kusi Boateng, who is sometimes known as Kwabena Adu Gyamfi or Kusi Boateng or Adu Gyamfi among other things, which forced the prominent pastors to resign.
Interestingly, the Justice Minister explained that he has had limited involvement in the activities of the council due to the demands of his office, apparently distancing himself from the project which is now priced at almost US$300 million.
A 2022 article in Bloomberg News noted that the cathedral’s original price tag of $100 million, had quadrupled amid record inflation and the devaluation of cedi in 2022.
By 2022, the Ghanaian government had spent over US$58 million on the cathedral, with about half of it going to David Adjaye’s architecture firm.
“Respectfully, as you are aware, at incorporation, I am named as Secretary to the Executive Council of the National Cathedral of Ghana.
“However, owing to my limited involvement in the affairs of the organization and the demands of my office, I deem it necessary to vacate the position for a new Secretary to be appointed. In the circumstances, I hereby respectfully notify you of my immediate resignation as Secretary to the Executive Council,” Dame’s letter read in part.
Mr Dame’s membership on the PPA became an issue at his vetting as Minister of Justice after he was nominated in 2021 by President Nana Akufo-Addo to replace his boss Gloria Akuffo.
The Appointments Committee of Parliament, had withheld his approval, saying he had failed to provide satisfactory answers on his role as a member of the governing board of the PPA during the scandal involving the disgraced former PPA Chief Executive Officer, Adjenim Boateng Adjei.
Mr Dame, was asked to come clean on the PPA scandal as he was evasive and showed lack of candour, leaving much to be desired.
He told the vetting committee that, although he was a member of the PPA board, he was not attending meetings.
The North Tongu Member of Parliament (MP), Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who has put some spotlight on the project, in June 2022, alleged on his social media that Mr Dame was registered as company secretary for the National Cathedral Company.
This, he claimed, was during the same period he served on the Public Procumbent Board that approved a sole source contract of designing the edifice to the Architectural firm, Adjaye and Associates.
But Mr Dame refuted the claims and demanded that Mr Ablakwa retracts and apologises.
The AG in a release issued on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, cautioned should Mr Ablakwa fail to comply, he may institute legal action against him. That threat is yet to materialize.
Just yesterday, Mr Ablakwa took to Facebook writing “unimpeachable explosive documents recently obtained from President Akufo-Addo’s office confirm that Ghana’s President, his Secretary and his Chief of Staff all knew about the Rev. Victor Kusi Boateng/Kwabena Adu Gyamfi illicit double identity scheme during the presidential approval processes to grant Kusi Boateng/Adu Gyamfi a diplomatic passport.
“The alarming documents reveal that the Akufo-Addo presidency, did not raise objections to conduct which the Human Rights Court has described as bordering on criminality.
“Strangely, the Akufo-Addo presidency became most complicit in granting express approval for a diplomatic passport and instructing the Foreign Minister to issue the diplomatic passport all between the 3rd and 10th of November 2021 when the Office of the President received the unlawful request.
Godfred Dame, had at the time told the appointments committee that no board member of the PPA was implicated in the Contract for Sale scandal.
According to him, the investigations by a committee from the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) exonerated every member, except for the former CEO Adjenim Boateng Adjei.
“It is important to place on record that it took the board by surprise. Each of the members of the PPA board, including my humble self-wrote to CHRAJ to explain our involvement, if any, in the matters that the commission had indicated.”
“Mr Chairman, CHRAJ itself came to the conclusion that the PPA board’s contacts did not involve any breach of any law at all and that the only breach in question was by Mr A.B Adjei.”
Mr Dame added that Mr Adjei, who was caught on camera selling contracts to the highest bidder, had agreed that it is not the duty of the board (which he is a member of) to shortlist companies or assess the qualifications of tenders.
“CHRAJ itself indicated that the main issue was whether the CEO had violated his public duty as CEO and board member by participating in such decisions.”
The PPA bosswas suspended on August 22, 2019, by President Akufo-Addo, following the broadcast of investigative documentary by Manasseh Azure Awuni, titled “Contracts for Sale”.
In the documentary, the investigative journalist revealed that a company Mr Adjenim Boateng co-owned, had sold government contracts it won through single-source and restrictive tendering to the highest bidder.
In the ‘Contracts for Sale’ exposé, it claimed among other things that Talent Discovery Limited (TDL), a company incorporated in June 2017 and that has links with the PPA boss, won a number of government contracts through restrictive tendering.
The documentary also alleged that TDL was engaged in the sale of contracts it won.
After suspending him, President Nana Akufo-Addo, also directed CHRAJ and the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate his appointee for conflict of interest and corruption.
The report from CHRAJ concluded that “on the totality of the evidence, Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei, had put himself in a position where his personal interests conflicted with the performance of his functions as CEO and Board Member of the PPA.”
It also stated that he abused his high office of trust.
Following findings from the CHRAJ committee tasked to investigate the matter, the PPA boss was dismissed from office.
His dismissal comes with a five year ban, which bars him from holding any public office.
Summary of key findings of CHRAJ investigations
“The following constitute the key findings of the investigation: Talent Discovery Limited (TDL) was incorporated on 19 June 2017, three months after the Respondent was appointed CEO of PPA in March 2017, by the Respondent and his brother-in-law Francis Kwaku Arhin, the Respondent being the majority shareholder.
The Respondent is both a director and shareholder of TDL and Francis Arhin, Respondent’s brother-in-law, is a director, shareholder and CEO of TDL. In effect, the Respondent has personal interest in TDL (financial and relational).
Although the Respondent claimed that he had resigned as director of TDL by reason of letter dated 5th September, 2017 addressed to the CEO and Company Secretary of TDL, all the relevant official records of the company showed that he remained a director of TDL at all material times, and that his purported resignation letter had no probative value whatsoever.
The evidence supports the allegation that TDL participated in a number of restricted tenders, which applications came before the Respondent in his capacity as CEO of PPA and member of the Board of PPA for approval.
TDL was awarded 10 contracts through restricted tender between June 2017 and 22 August 2019. However, the evidence did not support the allegation of award of contracts through sole sourcing.
The Respondent participated in the decision-making process on restricted tender applications that had TDL shortlisted without disclosing his private capacity (financial and relational) interest in the company or recusing himself, except on one occasion, in violation of the Board’s resolution on the matter and Article 284 of the Constitution.
The evidence further showed that the Respondent, on at least two occasions, used his office as CEO of PPA improperly by altering the decision of the Board to the benefit of TDL, a company in which he has personal (financial and relational) interest.
Officials of TDL (Thomas Amoah, Administrative Manager, who is also sometimes described as General Manager, Project Manager or Group Manager, and Abigail, the Office Secretary), the company in which the Respondent is majority shareholder and director, were clearly seen and heard in the documentary offering to sell contracts awarded to TDL by public procurement entities through restricted tender.
The evidence also established a pattern of movement of large volumes of cash through the Respondent’s Bank Accounts between March 2017 and August 2019, far in excess of his known income (Stanbic Bank: USD Account – $516,225.00; Cedi Account – ¢3.83 million; Euro Account – EU54.500; UMB Bank: $110,000). The Respondent could not offer a satisfactory explanation to the source of that huge volume of cash that passed through his bank account between March 2017 and August 2019 (unexplained wealth).
“The totality of the evidence showed that the Respondent had put himself in a position where his personal interest (financial and relational) conflicted with the performance of the functions of his office as CEO and Board Member of PPA.”