The Ministry of Defense, could pass out as a crime scene with various sums running into millions of United States Dollars, passing through it for onward delivery to soldiers, as well as retooling the Ghana Armed Force (GAF) in a volatile region not properly being accounted for.
The Herald had been informed of various financial irregularities at the Defense Ministry among some senior military officers, and people familiar with the issue are calling for a thorough forensic audit into the use of various sums going to the GAF from the United Nations (UN), ECOWAS, among others.
They also demanded that an audit into monies paid out to the soldiers on various peacekeeping missions outside the country, insisting that things are not being run properly.
In the name of the “confidentiality” tag on the defense budget, a lot of bad things are reported to be going wrong.
It comes as Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, has announced that the government of Ghana has spent in excess of US$10 million with only about US$3 million coming from the regional body.
Interestingly, the Directorate of the Public Relations of the GAF has through its Director, Naval Captain MA Larbi, confirmed The Herald’s report of ECOWAS auditors who have raised queries which the GAF is struggling to respond to. He also mentioned the missing signatures as one of the things that the auditors are looking into.
Already, The Herald’s information is that, there have been some dishonest activities on two key mission; the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG) and the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) Company serving with the United Nations’ Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) or the Ghana Engineer Company (GHANENGCOY).
While, some monies were said to have gone missing, there are reports of underpayments of troops’ allowances and feeding fees. The menace of the ghost workers which the public sector grapples with every now and then is also rampant in the Ghana Armed Forces.
The demand for an audit comes amid reports of landed properties dotted in Accra, Aburi and other parts of the country, which have been linked to some politicians and some senior military officers. These reports have sparked anger and murmurings in the Armed Forces.
In the case of the MINUSMA, The Herald, is informed that some soldiers returned to Ghana, after one and half years in Mali, but have some monies that they are entitled to in arrears.
Mali; has been labeled as one of the deadliest missions with soldiers facing Jihadists groups. However, the soldiers were reported to have been paid only a year’s allowance, and are out demanding the rest of the monies owed them.
In the case of the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG), ECOWAS has been on the tail of both the Ministry of the Defense and the military hierarchy to account for certain monies paid to the contingents running into US$800,000.
The money was said to have come from ECOWAS as feeding money to the soldiers, but the regional body, is demanding the money back, because those who received it cannot properly account for it.
Lt. Col. Awuku, Lt Col Nimako, Lt Col Awuni and the Late Lt. Col Odei, who at various times headed the mission in The Gambia, were mentioned as having received these sums from ECOWAS as feeding fees for the soldiers, but the monies were not utilized for the purposes that ECOWAS directly released them to the commanding officers.
For nearly seven years, various Commanding Officers stationed at The Gambia mission are reported to have collected over US$20, 900 every month from ECOWAS to pay troops, but there are reports that the government of Ghana, was also paying US$25 per a day per a troop for feeding; making the payments double.
However, it was discovered that it is only the US$25 per a day payment from the government of Ghana that gets to the soldiers, but that from ECOWAS, doesn’t.
ECOWAS officials, were said to have raised alarm through an audit query forcing the GAF to question some of the commanders. They were said to have revealed that they handed over the cash to a particular senior officer upon their return from the mission.
The Directorate of the Public Relations of the GAF, has through its Director, Naval Captain MA Larbi, in a press statement which he said was to “debunk a misleading report published by The Herald Newspaper”, the GAF spokesman admitted that “Auditors from ECOWAS recently recommended that the troops should also sign the reimbursement forms”.
“Accordingly, personnel concerned who had completed their tours of duty and in Ghana, were recalled from their Units across the country to Accra to sign the forms. This has been done as requested by ECOWAS, except for those personnel not immediately available and are yet to do so”.
“The Ghana Armed Forces wishes to debunk a misleading report published by The Herald Newspaper, claiming that ECOWAS is chasing some Ghanaian Military Officers over $800,000 troops peacekeeping allowances that cannot be accounted for.
“The false report which has since been re-published by a cross section of the media and online portals and also on some social media handles, allege that the money was meant for troops serving with the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG), who had already been paid by the Ghanaian government over a three-year period.
“The Ghana Armed Forces wishes to categorically state that there are no outstanding issues in respect of ECOMIG troops peacekeeping allowances. Since the inception of the Mission in 2017, the troops individually signed for their peacekeeping allowances at the contingent level. They were not mandated to sign the ECOWAS re-imbursement forms for their peacekeeping allowances as this was the responsibility of the Commanding and Finance Officers of the various contingents.
“However, Auditors from ECOWAS, recently recommended that the troops should also sign the reimbursement forms. Accordingly, personnel concerned who had completed their tours of duty and in Ghana, were recalled from their Units across the country to Accra to sign the forms. This has been done as requested by ECOWAS, except for those personnel not immediately available and are yet to do so.
“It is therefore untrue that some Ghanaian Officers, are unable to account for some peacekeeping allowances and are being chased by ECOWAS”, adding “The publication must be disregarded”.
“GAF wishes to once again urge the media to verify claims and desist from publishing unsubstantiated allegations emanating from unreliable and anonymous sources with the aim of drawing GAF and Ghana as a whole into international disrepute. Accordingly GAF requests The Herald Newspaper and all other media houses that re-published the story to retract the publication”.
Back to Mali, Ghana’s Ambassador to that country, Napoleon Abdulai, has announced that the Akufo-Addo government, has initiated necessary processes towards procuring new equipment and logistics for the troops sent there. This confirms the difficult situations the troops sent by Ghana to Mali are working under.
Mr Abdulai was on a 4-day working visit to GHANENGCOY 10 on Thursday, 4 August 2022, to assess troops’ welfare and to have firsthand information on the operations of the contingent in Timbuktu, Mali.
Ambassador Abdulai, who was in the company of the Consul of the Ghana Embassy in Bamako, also visited the MINUSMA Sector Headquarters and called on the Sector West Commander – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Joel Biwanlo, the Regional Administrative Officer (RAO) – Madam Susan Asomaning and the MINUSMA Head of Office of the Region – Mr Mamane Moussa.
The Ambassador’s visit itinerary also included a durbar with All Ranks of the Engineer Company, where he cited the contingent’s patience and professionalism, regardless of ongoing Rotation challenges in MINUSMA, however, indicating that efforts were far advanced, to secure the start of the Rotation through good cooperation with the Malian Government and all stakeholders.
The RAO, while commending GHANENGCOY 10 for their show of professionalism in executing their tasks, in spite of numerous logistical challenges they encounter, encouraged the Government of Ghana to continue its ongoing efforts to upgrade the equipment and logistics deployed in the Mission.
The Sector West Commander in his interaction with the Ambassador, averred that the Ghana Contingent was indeed the major supporting unit within the Sector and commended GHANENGCOY 10 for displaying high standards and dedication, regardless of difficulties within the mission.
The Ambassador, was received at the Timbuktu Airport by the Officer Commanding (OC), GHANENGCOY 10 – Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Edward Kofi Poku, and later interacted with the Ghanaian community within the Sector.