Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, charged with looking into the detailed accounts of District Assemblies in the country fired his first Salvo when he caused the arrest of two officers of the Sefwi Akontombra District Assembly last Monday, January 20, 2020 at its sitting in Parliament.
The Chairman had right from day one of the two-week sitting of the committee warned officers who appear before it that he would hand them over to the police if they lied or forged documents to the committee after swearing on oath to speak nothing but the truth.
The period finally came, when Messrs Isaac Akowuah, Former District Finance Officer (DFO) of Akontombra and James Essilfie, current DFO of the Assembly appeared before the committee.
Having appeared before the committee the previous week, the Akontombra Assembly led by its DCE, Yawson Amoah could not account for 63 payment vouchers (PVs) totaling GH¢126,000 which apparently appeared missing.
The chairman then charged them to appear again on Monday, January 20, 2020 to rectify the anomaly or infraction. Since Mr. Akowuah had been posted to the Bodi District Assembly, the chairman charged that he also be present that day to answer questions.
When they finally appeared, the committee detected that their explanations were not only forged and falsified, but also contradictory. According to the two, they had been able to retrieve nine (9) out of the missing 62 PVs and they totaled GH¢120,000, indicating that the remaining missing 53 summed up to the GH¢6,000 left.
Apparently shocked at this, the chairman wondered how much each of the remaining 53 PVs contained. In the course of probing them the chairman noted that the two (2) were contradicting each other. What is more, after having sworn on oath to say the truth, but ending up lying to the committee, which has the powers of the High court, amounted to perjury. Meanwhile, the nine PVs so submitted were alleged to have been audited by the Auditor-General but it turned out to be falsified too.
The chairman subsequently caused their arrest by officers of the Parliamentary Protection Unit (PPU) of the Ghana Police. After their statements had been taken, they were granted bail.
Let the State Take Over – PAC Chair
According to Hon. Avedzi since what the officers had done bordered on criminality, the state should take over, with the law taking its due course. He indicated that as PAC members they would be in court as witnesses. This, he said, would serve as a deterrent to others with intension of appearing before the court to lie. He was quick to point out that whereas some members referred to him as being too lenient with officers who appeared before the committee, other members accused him for having caused the arrest of these officers. He was however of the conviction that the action of these officers were intended to throw dust into the eyes of PAC members, who had done due diligence even before it (PAC) sat and after.
Bodi Perform 5 Creditably
Meanwhile when Bodi District Assembly led by its DCE Ignatius Akwasi Amankwa appeared before the Committee, it performed creditably to the satisfaction of the chairman and members.
Though the last to be called the day, 20th January, 2020, the Assembly spent less than ten (10) minutes answering one in fraction for 2016 PAC had sat for the two weeks looking the audited accounts of these institutions, while inviting officials to answer queries or infraction emanating from the report for the Auditor-General for the period 2015-2016.
Chief Arrested for Non-Payment of Compensation
When they took their turn to answer queries at the PAC sitting, Rev. Prof. John Frank Essuman, Vice-Chancellor of the Takoradi Technical University (TTU) and his team told PAC that their query in respect of non-payment of compensation of GH¢320,996.20 to farmers was pending before court.
According to them, after the Chief of Akatakyi, Nana Bassa IV had taken money from the school authority for onward payment to farmers whose lands has been taken for campus for the school as compensation, he failed to do so. He was subsequently reported to the police, was arrested and arraigned before court with the case still pending.
Meanwhile, it has been gathered at the PAC sitting that the most controversial infraction has been with the MPs Common Fund which was mostly applied without the MPs notice and supporting vouchers.
Minister Inaugurates Assemblies
The Minister for the Western North Region, Hon. Kinsley Aboagye-Gyedu, is set to inaugurate the reconstituted District Assemblies in the Region. This follows the election of New Assembly Members to the nine districts in the region after the December 17th District Assembly Elections.
According to the Minister, he will start from Oawin (Enchie), move to Suaman (Dadieso) and end up at Wiawso on January 23, 2020. With the remaining six (6) District, the Minister indicated that he will send representatives to have members sworn-in that same day.
According to the Member of Parliament for Aowin, Hon. Mathias Kwame Ntow, due to the bad nature of roads in his area, peeved youth took it upon themselves and barricaded the road at Mile 4, thereby preventing Electoral Officers form going to conduct elections on the 17th December District Level Elections.
As a result, most of his constitutes have been disenfranchised, and was therefore looking out for a way out to have them cast their votes in that election. He maintained that the action of the youth was so severe that day that he had to run away from them after casting his vote that day in question.
He was quick to point out that apathy reigned during that election, thereby making turn-out very low. Hon. Ntow was of the opinion that if nothing was done about this apathy and situations leading to it as indicated by the youth, it could find its way into the 2020 general elections.
Hon. Ntow also expressed misgivings about the bad natures of roads in his constituency, and urged central government to do something about it. He could not comprehend how the area, abounding natural resources as mineral and agricultural products should be left so lacking in respect of roads in particular. He hinted that the largest forest reserve in the country currently, is in his constituency.
Source: S.O Ankamah