Thursday, February 25, 2010

Arthur Kennedy Outdoors Elephant Book

Dr. Arthur Kennedy has become controvertial in Ghanaian politics

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 25, 2010
The controversial book, ‘Chasing the elephant into the Bush – The politics of complacency’, written by Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy, a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was launched at the Teacher’s Hall in Accra Tuesday with all the guest speakers commending the author but disagreeing with him on certain aspects of the book.

The book has 184 pages with 17 chapters interspersed with pictures. The hard cover is dark green with a photograph of an elephant. It was printed in Ghana and published by ArthurHouse.

During the auction, Kwame Sefa Kayi of Peace FM who moderated the launching attended by a handful of guests, had to wait for about ten minutes before Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko of the Danquah Institute purchased the first copy for GH¢50.

At a point Mr Sefa-Kayi had to force the book on the audience to buy. In fact, all the first 10 copies were forced on the reluctant buyers.

Even though the moderator initially pegged the auction price at GH¢1000, the highest price paid for it was GH¢350 bought by the MP for Chereponi, Samuel Jabanyite.

While some speakers said the book offered useful lessons for political parties particularly the NPP, others were of the view that Dr. Kennedy was merely exercising his right to free speech and added that it will help strengthen the current democratic dispensation.

Dr. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the celebrated heart surgeon and a leading NPP member who chaired the launching set the tone when he said “the book may be controversial but as a people particularly the NPP family, we should be able to tolerate the views of others and embrace it for the better.”

“Here it is not because I like everything in the book. There are portions I totally disagree with but there are useful lessons to be learned”.

He said “the elephant may be in the bush but I tell you in 2012, it will come back home.”

Peter Mac Manu, outgoing National Chairman of the NPP said Dr. Kennedy’s book was not out of place because the NPP itself commissioned some members somewhere in January and February 2009 to investigate the causes of the then ruling party’s defeat in the 2008 general election, adding “we have done our own in-house review but it is not for public consumption.”

He said “this is not the first time that the NPP is reviewing its performance after a major election. We did in 2005 after winning the 2004 general election and I was the one tasked by the Haruna Esseku administration to lead a team to look into the issues.”

“The NPP as a party has no qualms with the book. Arthur K is entitled to his opinions and that is the beauty of democracy. There might be some errors but at least something has been started and others must follow suit,” he said

Mr. Mac Manu however said individuals within the party may have their own grievances with Dr. Kennedy for writing the book just as the author has the right to freedom of speech, stressing “you do not expect everybody to like the book hundred percent.”

He later admitted “the only thing I do not like about the book is the title,” generating laughter from the audience.

Yaw Baodu Ayeboafo, General Manager in charge of newspapers at the Graphic Communications Group Limited who gave the keynote address stressed the need for tolerance in the political landscape that would bring about healthy political discourse towards strengthening the country’s democratic dispensation.

“I wrote the foreword of the book. It is the first time that somebody who has been in the thick of affairs is writing about what really happened. All that we have had over the years have come from the outsider’s perspective. We have to explore and allow people to express themselves.”

Mr. Ayeboafo urged the public to find out what is in the book before attacking Arthur K saying “we should look at whether the one who wrote the book is the devil or activities that constituted the writing of the book.”

He also appealed to media practitioners not to cast judgment on a product they have not seen since that constituted what he called ‘lies’ in journalism and pleaded with Dr. Kennedy not to hit back at anyone who criticized the book.

Earlier in his introductory remark, Dr. Kennedy said the release of the international edition had on the book and his personality “a coordinated and destructive assault, the nature of which has not been seen for a long time.”
He said there was a real danger that the book will be remembered more for the “issues around it than issues inside it.”

He admitted that it was impossible for him to write so much on a subject as passionate as politics without “giving actual or perceived offence to some,” and commended former President J.A. Kufuor for disagreeing with him on certain aspects of the book but having his concerns stated forcefully.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kludze queries Ghana’s history

Prof. Kludze is a retired Supreme Court judge in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 25, 2010
Professor A.K. Paaku Kludze, a retired Supreme Court judge says the high level of intellectual dishonesty associated with Ghana’s history must be not be allowed to persist or else the country may soon lose track of her rich history.

“There is plenty of intellectual dishonesty in this country and this has gone on for far too long. Can you imagine some intellectuals and politicians heaping praises on one man as the only founder of this modern Ghana when in actual fact it is far from the truth? he asked

Prof. Kludze who is currently the Director of the Judicial Service’s Career Magistrates’ Programme was speaking at the opening of the 43rd J.B. Danquah Memorial Lectures at the British Council Hall in Accra on Monday evening.

The three-day lecture, themed “Institutional responses to the challenges of nationhood and democratic governance in Ghana” is being organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS).

GAAS has since 1959 gathered together the highest level of intellectuals, experts, and professionals in the country to constitute a think tank in the area of arts and sciences with the view to offering sound advice for national development.

Prof. Kludze who spoke on the topic ‘Danquah and the movement for independence’ noted that no matter what claims exist regarding the founding of the state of Ghana, “the history of the movement for Ghana’s independence cannot be written without the mention of Dr. JB Danquah. This is not a matter which should be obfuscated by political chicanery and ignorant effusions.”

He said objective historians might someday “establish whether Dr. Danquah was one of the founders of the modern state of Ghana.”

The Professor said at the time of Dr. Danquah’s birth at the turn of the 19th century there had been what he called “perceivable and even loud demands for an end to colonial rule in the Gold Coast” adding “I would not therefore pretend that Dr. Danquah was the founder of modern Ghana. The foundations for independence were laid before Dr. Danquah was born and certainly before 1909.”

He said for instance the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society (ARPS) had been galvanizing public opinion within the constraining limitations of the colonial setting to demand greater recognition of the rights of the native population while the West Africa Conference was also formed in 1917 to agitate for self rule from the colonialist.

“Long before Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Congress had demanded that self government should be implemented to enable people of African descent to participate in the government of their own country. In the face of these historical facts I cannot say that Dr. Danquah is the founder of this nation. Indeed, Dr. Danquah never made such a claim.”

He said Dr. Danquah’s contribution towards building modern Ghana cuts across all fields “he believed and spoke for farmers at the time that was why he was given the title ‘Akuafo Kanea’ – ‘The lamp of the farmers.”

He said the name Ghana was given to the people of Gold Coast after independence due to “Dr. Danquah’s tireless and extensive research at the British Museum in London. With all these glaring facts, some intellectuals and politicians still hold that Dr. Nkrumah is the only founder of modern Ghana.”

He said the claims by some that Dr. Danquah led United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) out of which the Convention People’s Party (CPP) broke away because he did not want the people of the Gold Coast to attain self rule could not be true because at the launch of the UGCC in Saltpond in 1947, Dr. Danquah had strongly pushed for self independence.

Prof. Kludze said the UGCC leadership committed what he calls ‘tactical errors’ by assuming that it was the only political force that could lead Ghana to attain independence and this was where the charisma of Dr. Nkrumah and his CPP outsmarted them to lead Ghana to the Promise Land.

“The UGCC should have gone along with the CPP in asking for independence. It was na├»ve for the UGCC to think that it was the only group that could lead the people of the Gold Coast to attain independence. We have to give Dr. Nkrumah some credit because if he had taken any false step things could have gone wrong”.

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Nduom Commends EO Group

Dr. Nduom was the Presidential candidate of the CPP in the 2008 election in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday February 24, 2010
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, the 2008 presidential candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) says the EO Group is being victimized unduly by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

It was the EO Group, a Ghanaian consortium whose tireless effort pushed Kosmos Energy to discover oil in commercial quantities in the country but has since 2009 been under the scrutiny of the NDC government, with the intension to criminalise it for helping Ghana to discover oil in commercial quantities.

At a news conference in Accra yesterday to make suggestions as to how he wished President John Evans Atta Mills would say to parliament in his state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, Dr. Nduom said “if we want to find fault in the whole deal then it should not be the Ghanaian group alone. It should include the foreign group. It is not fair to strip the Ghanaian group off and let the foreigners go.”

“I was the Minister of Energy when the deal was signed. I visited Equatorial Guinea three times to investigate the background of Kosmos and I can tell you that those who went around making sure things properly happened were the EO Group”.

“If as a country we have to thank anybody it should be the EO Group. What they have brought to Ghana recently nobody can”.

Dr. Nduom said “if former President Kufuor rose up a Ghanaian Group, let President Mills also raise up one so that another person could also raise up yet another group. If it happens this way we will soon have eminent Ghanaian groups dominating our oil industry.”

He said President Mills came to power on the platform of change but so far there has been nothing new or different that can transform the fortunes of the people, adding “so far it has been business as usual.”

He also said that it will be prudent for the President and his team to concentrate on the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ which presents a collective broad national agenda to ensure a just and free society.

He urged the government to encourage consensus building towards national development, support small and medium enterprises with soft loans and promote agriculture.

Dr. Nduom also asked the government to come out with a timetable for the oil industry to the benefit of all Ghanaians particularly the local communities.

He also called for a strengthening of public sector institutions to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector and facilitate the implementation of the new Pension Law which he said “is a huge opportunity to create wealth

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ntim calls for fair play

Stephen Ntim is a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 23, 2010
Stephen Ntim, the 51-year-old systems engineer who is vying for the national chairmanship position of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has officially closed his campaign, with a call on other aspirants to ensure a competitive race by playing by the rules.

Thirty four candidates, according to media reports, have filed their nominations to contest for eight executive positions at the party’s congress, which is slated for Kumasi this weekend.

The positions include the National Chairman, First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman, General Secretary, National Organiser, Youth Organiser, Women’s Organiser and National Treasurer.

At a news conference in Accra yesterday to announce the end of his campaign, Mr. Ntim, who contested the position and lost to Peter Mac Manu in 2005 said, “the beginning of the battle comes with the election of a dynamic national chairman. I have interacted with the delegates and they have assured me of their votes because they believe that I will lead the NPP to victory in 2012.”

Mr. Ntim said his campaign had focused on restoring hope, unity and respect for the constitution of the party, adding, “We must all remain neutral as we strive to elect members of the national executives and ultimately our flagbearer.”

“For now our mission as a party is to put our house in order to ensure a resounding victory over the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2012. The essence of our efforts is to have a strong leadership, which will transform this vision into reality. We should therefore conduct ourselves in a manner that would ensure a successful conference so that every delegate would be satisfied.”

Mr. Ntim, who was the First National Vice-Chairman of the party from 2001 to 2005, said if given the nod, he would ensure that all disputes within the party are settled.

“I would be prepared to go the constituency level to kneel down before the youth organizer for the sake of unity in the party,” he stressed.

He said he was not aware that anybody or groups were working against his candidature, noting, “I am not being supported by President Kufuor, but I am a team player who is prepared to sacrifice for the NPP to wrestle power from the NDC.”

Mr. Ntim called on supporters to respect the party’s constitution, saying that “anything short of that will bring problems to the party. I will ensure strict enforcement of the constitution.

Mr. Ntim said the NPP was losing its grip on the Brong Ahafo Region because the party had not worked hard enough, assuring that under his leadership, the party would reclaim its lost glory in the region.

“I am calling for a political tree planting, especially in the northern part of the region to push further into the strongholds of the NDC. I want people to judge me not by my age but what I can do, my track record and effectiveness. Delegates must vote for a national chairman who will protect the interest of the NPP,” Mr. Ntim reiterated.

Commenting on the NDC’s style of governance, Mr. Ntim said, “We are all aware of the challenges that we face as a country due to the mistake that we made by voting the NDC to power. It is up to us to work hard to vote out the NDC in 2012 so that Ghanaians can once again heave a sigh of relief.

“There is economic hardship, astronomical increase in the prices of basic commodities, increase in tax regimes and an attempt to re-introduce the culture of silence by the NDC.”

He also condemned the arrest and detention of Nana Darkwa Baafi and commended the NPP Members of Parliament (MPs) for standing up against what he terms as an ‘attack on free speech.’

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Craig Murray again!

Envoy Murray was a Deputy British High Commissioner to Ghana in 2000

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 22, 2010
Craig Murray, a former British Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana who caused controversy during the 2000 general elections which brought the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to office is in the news again.

This time around, he has claimed that the out gone NPP government paid millions of dollars to Zhakem International Construction Limited for no work done.

In 2000, during the collation of the election results Envoy Murray had slept at offices at Electoral Commission, claiming the election result were being manipulate, an action which was condemned by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) government as ‘undiplomatic’.

His reason at the time was that his government (British) had pumped too much money in the organization of the election and could not sit down for the investment to be wasted.

In this instant case, Mr. Murray who has since been relieved of his diplomatic duties by his government after stints in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2005, is saying that the NPP administration paid about $80 million to Zhakem International Company Limited for the construction of the Kpone Thermal Power Project (KTPP) which has not been done.

He told Oman FM, an Accra-based private station said “I went to the site three weeks ago. I stood on the very spot where the turbines are supposed to be and they have not even started. I went there with Kwesi Pratt. All they have done is to clear some land and they have built a wall. Foundations are not even dug. They have not even dug the trenches yet for the foundation.”

Challenged by the host that something was being done at the site, he said “unless everything has happened inside the last three weeks. It is quite possible as a result of what I said what I have been saying. They quickly quickly dug something.”

Envoy Murray insisted “there is nothing constructive about the ground level. The turbines are not even on site. They are in the storage yard of the VRA. Please go and see it yourself.”

“It takes a minimum of 18 months to construct a turbine. The turbine foundations are very large things. They have to go right down to the bedrock. You do not have to believe me. You can go there yourself to see”.

When asked where his interest lies in the whole issue, Envoy Murray replied “I am a human rights activist and an anti corruption campaigner. I am quite well known internationally. I have many interests in Ghana one of which is a company in which I am the chairman in the power sector and that is how I discovered this fact. I was most upset because of my concern for the ordinary Ghanaian taxpayer whose money is being abused. That is where my interest lies.”

When asked whether his company had interest in the building of the turbine, he said he is an agent for a company that builds turbines adding “I am not entirely ashamed of it. People should be able to build what they supposed to build and the taxpayer should get what they pay for. In the case of Zhakem, the truth is there is no functioning power station.”

“I decided to go public with this because I was worried the government was not getting sufficient support in its anti corruption work. Even some foreign missions were criticizing the government for investigating foreign companies.”

He claimed he once reported the matter to former President J A Kufuor, his Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani as well as the current Vice President John Mahama and the Energy Minister.

He also said he once took Mr. Mpiani to the site and upon seeing developments Mr. Mpiani expressed his disappointment over the state of affairs, a position the former Chief of Staff later called into the programme to vehemently deny and went ahead to accuse Envoy Murray of hypocrisy.

He admitted that he had constant interest “because I have learned Zhakem kept being paid constantly 2008 in particular. I heard they kept being paid more and more installments of money despite the fact that absolutely no work was happening and I could not understand it. They are getting another 20 million dollars despite having done nothing. That is why I started alerting people.”

At this juncture, Kwabena Sarpong, a close associate of Mr. Mpiani called into the programme to protest against what he calls Envoy Murray’s ‘lies’.

He said “he is lying. It is a fact that he reported this case especially Zhakem to Mr. Mpiani but Mr. Mpiani never told him Zhakem had disappointed him. I was there at the site and I believe if he sees me he will remember me.”

Mr. Sarpong said what the government paid to Zhakem was what he called mobilization fee which he said was normal adding “when you sign a contract you are given mobilization. Your contract that you are doing, were you not given mobilization.”
“I do not want to tell Ghanaian what you are because if I do they will drive you out. Your wife is currently holding a Ghanaian passport. How did your wife come to have the passport”?

“You are talking about people being corrupt. Talk about yourself. How did you wife come to get a Ghanaian passport. Why are you doing this? Some people will think may be something wrong with your mind”?

“NPP comes; you are doing the same thing. NPP goes you are doing the same thing. Ghanaians are getting tired of you”.

He claimed that the delay in the construction of the turbine was as a result of the NDC government having to tell Zhakem that there was no money saying “as I speak to you Zhakem has a certificate to be paid. If they have not done any work why would they be given a certificate.”

Envoy Murray then cuts in to say that he was glad that Mr. Sarpong confirmed that he took Mr. Mpiani to the site and also the turbines were still at the VRA stores but maintained “Mr. Mpiani said to me he was disappointed.”

Mr. Sarpong replied that Mr. Mpiani had told Envoy Murray that he was going to crosscheck and get back to the envoy and never said he was disappointed which he did, insisting “Craig Murray is lying”.

Envoy Murray became annoyed and shouted “Sarpong if you do not stop insulting me I will stop talking to you. Please conduct yourself as a civilized person.”
Mr. Sarpong replied that “If you are a civilized person and have conscience you will not be saying these”, then his line dropped.

When the host asked Envoy Murray whether his wife had a Ghanaian passport, he confirmed it was true and his phone line also dropped at that instance.

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NPP UK Condenms Attack on Free Speech

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 22, 2010
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) branch in the United Kingdom and Ireland has condemned the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government for restricting freedom of speech.

“We condemn the arrest and imprisonment of Nana Darkwa and arrest of George Best, NPP supporters who were only exercising their basic human rights to free speech under our constitution”.

In a press statement issued in London and signed by Nana Yaw Sarpong, Communications Officer of NPP UK/Ireland said “as much as we sympathize with former President Rawlings and his family’s loss of property through fire last Sunday, everyone in Ghana has a right to express different opinions and a right to express a view.”

The statement said “one does not have to agree with Darkwa and Best views. After all Mrs. Zita Okaikoi did say there may be a hand behind, Ex- President Kufuor said actions of saboteurs could not be ruled out and should be investigated. Are these not expression of opinion?”

“Have we not had some of our leaders being called ‘Ataa Ayi’, ‘cocaine addicts’, by NDC members like Fiifi Kwetey, Koku Anyidoho, Ama Benyiwa Doe and others in the past”?

The group asked the police and the judicial authorities to “use discretion in the exercise of their duties and we are sad that Rose Bio Atinga, Greater Accra Regional Police Commander is fast turning the police into an armed wing of the NDC arresting political opponents at will.”

The group also had a word for the judge who ordered the imprisonment of Darkwa saying “the Circuit Court Judge should bow down his head in shame and we call on the Chief Justice to investigate and throw out this judge and others like this whose bizarre conduct make our laws a laughing stock.”

The release further expressed concern about what it describes as “the culture of silence rising in the country, the creeping of intolerance of opposing views, and the harassment of political opponents by the NDC government.”

“The recent attacks at Adom FM, beating of Lawyer John Owusu Afriyie (Sir John) by Yamoah Ponkoh at a radio station in Kumasi, the beating of Dr. Asemfoforo, an NDC serial caller at the NDC headquarters for criticizing Ex-President Rawlings, all point to a government which is unable to meet the demands of our people, is trying to suppress dissenting views, restrict expression of diverse opinions, suffocate debate and intimidate media houses, journalists and opinion leaders.”

The group said that they were surprised that “our clergy and journalists are silent when these abuses take place. The return of Criminal Libel Law through the back door we say.”

They said the immoral action and abuse of state machinery has no place in the current democratic dispensation.

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George Andah Challenges Marketers

Mr Andah is a leading marketing figure in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 22, 2010
The Marketing Manager of MTN Ghana, George Andah, has called on marketing officers in the country to take particular interest in what goes on around the communities in which they operate and help bring hope to the vulnerable in society.

“As marketers, we should be interested in what goes on around our immediate environment. We should not leave the welfare of such communities to the corporate affairs department of our organizations. Marketers should be able to make an impact in the lives of people who need us mostly and leave a legacy for the next generation,” he advised.

Mr. Andah was speaking at a programme dubbed, ‘An Evening with George Andah,’ which was organized by the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) in his honour at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra on Wednesday.

It formed part of a series of lectures outlined by CIMG to improve the marketing skills of its members and to bring professionalism into the marketing industry.
The event, which was on the theme, “How to stand out of the crowd,” was attended by marketers and some marketing students.

Mr. Andah said, “Marketers should be able to brand themselves effectively in order to stand out. We must stand out for the right reasons by shining in our environments.”

He further revealed that “we should respect competition and do the necessary things in order to stand out and must have a ‘can do’ spirit towards achieving mastery.”
Mr. Andah said there should always be a conscious effort by marketers to add value to products.

“We should always think outside the box to get the right attitude towards work and must set goals.”

He also asked them to apply analytical skills to generate competent strategies to stimulate growth.

Josephine Okutu, President of CIMG, tasked members to be serious about branding, insisting that “it is one of the best ways to move an organization forward.

She said CIMG is committed to promoting professionalism in the marketing industry, adding, “We would continue to orient our members to keep them on track.”

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Mob Attacks AMA …Demolition Team

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 19, 2010
Scores of residents at Apenkwa, Achimota were yesterday awakened by the sound of a bulldozer, which was used by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to demolish unauthorized structures in the area.

The AMA, which conducted the demolition exercise, said structures scattered around the Apenkwa fly-over are impeding the construction of the Tetteh Quarshie / Mallam dual carriage.

The exercise, which was initially very peaceful, turned violent later at about 10:00 am when some irate youth started throwing stones at the demolition team.

Over 100 police officers, who were supervising the exercise, could not contain the situation and had to call for reinforcement from the Greater Accra Regional Police Command.
There were no serious injuries, but the windscreen of an AMA truck, which was being used to cart demolition materials, was smashed.

But the police arrested some people.

During the exercise, properties, including kiosks and metal containers as well as make shift structures, fitting shops, drinking bars and a car garage were also destroyed.

The operation was so swift that most of the occupants could not remove their belongings and stood helpless as the CAT 966G earth-moving machine moved around to bring down more structures.

When DAILY GUIDE visited the scene at 8:38 am, a large crowd had gathered, but the exercise was ongoing with police officers all over the place.

Chief Joseph A. Okine, Director of Operations at the AMA, who led the exercise said, “It is part of our plans to decongest the city, which was launched in June last year to clear all unauthorized structures.”

He said the structures in the area, which were demolished falls within the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) projects of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), stressing that the government is expected to construct roads to facilitate the transportation of agricultural produce.

He said the AMA would not relent in its effort to rid the city of all unauthorized structures.

Valentine Avedo, Director of Works (City Engineers) of the AMA said, “The structures are obstructing the development of the N1 Highway and if we do not take steps to check them we will spend many years to complete the highway.”

He said the affected structures were constructed without permits, adding that “we are forewarning all others who do not have permit to relocate because we are going to demolish everything.”

Reacting to complaints by some affected victims that the assembly did not serve any notice before the exercise, Abena Kweisiwa Kyei of the Okaikoi North Sub Metro of the AMA, under whose jurisdiction the exercise took place added: “This cannot be correct. We have persistently served them notice for more than a year.”

“Sometimes when our officers go around telling them to relocate, they mock them. Even if we did not notify them, these people do not have permits to live here. We want to check indiscriminate and haphazard developments in the city.”

Superintendent Sylvester Boyuo, who led the operation, said initially the police arrested two men for attempting to prevent the demolition team from carrying the kiosks, explaining that “we do not intend to prosecute them. We want the exercise to be completed and I will order their release.”

Some of the affected victims narrated their ordeal to the DAILY GUIDE amidst tears.
A 54-year-old Gifty Lartey said, “When the construction commenced the contractor did not mark the buildings along the area and for many years no official came to order us to relocate. I find it strange that today the AMA is saying that where we are living is unauthorized.”

“If the government really cares for the poor, then it should do something about this situation because the Ghana Highway Authority had already revealed that we were living on the land earmarked for the road project.”

“After voting for them this is our reward. There are no jobs in the system and they are destroying the little that we have,” a 32-year-old carpenter, Kosi Amevor disclosed.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mills Photos, Flags Burnt

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 18, 2010
But for the vigilance of some drivers and swift response by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the printing section of the Ministry of Information, which also serves as a store for the Information Services Department (ISD), would have been consumed by fire.

The fire gutted paraphernalia including flags and portraits of President Atta Mills, which were meant for the celebration of the 53rd Independence anniversary celebrations on March 6, 2010.

It is the second fire incident at the Ministry in less than a year, as the office of a deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, was destroyed by fire in the middle of last year.

These series of fire incidents have prompted the out-going Minister of Information, Zita Okaikoi, not to rule out the actions of saboteurs who might be working against the interest of the state.

Within the last couple of months, a number of public institutions have either being completely razed down by fire or partly destroyed.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry building was completely burnt, with parts of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) also suffering a similar calamity as well as the Metro Education Office at Kinbu in Accra, which was burnt to ashes.

The fire comes in the wake of a similar misfortune that befell former President Jerry John Rawlings and his family at his official residence at Ridge, Accra on the dawn of Valentine’s Day when the whole building was razed down to ashes by fire.

The persistent outbreak of fire, especially on state property, is becoming a source of worry for the government and all concerned.

When DAILY GUIDE visited the scene at about 2:12 pm, scores of workers at the vicinity had gathered, with the firemen busily making sure everything was under control.

Three bales of national flags which caught fire were removed from the room and thrown in front of the entrance.

The building, located right behind the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) structure, had been fenced with security wires.

The out-going Minister of Information, Mrs. Zita Okaikoi, her two deputies: James Agyenim-Boateng and Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Rose Bio Atinga and a team of investigators, some top officers from the Police Headquarters, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and other representatives from other security agencies were at the scene.

Prince Billy Anaglatey, Assistant Divisional Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, said they received the call at exactly 1:09 pm and it took them six minutes to get to the scene and an additional 20 minutes to calm things down.

“There was a lot of smoke in the inner room where the fire started as it was smoldering, but there was no oxygen so we had to ventilate the area,” he added.

He disclosed that the room was packed with bales of material, adding that there could have been a major disaster if more bales had caught fire without any swift response.

Mrs. Okaikoi, in an interview, said she suspected foul play, saying, “I believe it is sabotage. Fire outbreaks are getting too many. We have called the BNI to conduct thorough investigations into this matter.”

She said President J.E.A. Mills has already directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to rewire all buildings, explaining that “we have started ours”.

She also said the bales, which were almost destroyed by fire, were flags and other paraphernalia meant for the celebration of the 53rd Independence anniversary celebrations on March 6, 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coalition Angry With Parliament

Prof Kwame Karikari is the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday February 17, 2010
The Ghana National Coalition on the Right to Information has accused Parliament of blatantly sidelining laid down provisions in the Constitution to conduct a first reading of the Right to Information Bill currently before the house.

The coalition says the Bill should have been publicized 14 clear days and made available to the Ghanaian population before it was laid before Parliament.

“How can a Bill that seeks to promote transparency and provide the legal guarantees for the constitutional right to information be introduced in Parliament in a cloud of non-transparency”, the coalition fumed.

Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and a leading member of the coalition said this at a news conference in Accra yesterday, to register the coalition’s displeasure at the way Parliament is handling the Bill.

He said: “The coalition has read with some concern the news of the first reading in Parliament on Friday February 5, 2010 of the Right to Information Bill, which has since been referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.”

“Our concern may come as a surprise to the public, as we have been in the forefront of the demand that the final Bill be placed before Parliament without further delay but we must point out that due constitutional process has not been complied with and there has been no transparency in the process leading to the tabling of the Bill in Parliament”.

According to the Professor, Article 106 (2) (b) of the Constitution makes it mandatory for such a Bill to be published in the Gazette for a period of 14 days before it was introduced in Parliament but in this case it was only a notification that was given to the government publisher and not the full details as the rules demand.

He said, “The current Bill has inscribed on the back page the following notice: ‘Date of Gazette notification: January 19, 2010”, and added “but this is merely the notification of the Bill in the Gazette bulletin.”

He said when the coalition learnt about the notification of the Bill in the Gazette; the coalition went to the government publisher on several occasions to purchase a copy of the Bill but was informed that the Bill had not yet been printed.

“Even on the Friday when the Bill was introduced in Parliament, our enquiry in Parliament about getting a copy of the Bill proved negative – there was no copy”, he said.

“It is therefore shocking in the circumstance that the Bill was introduced in Parliament on February 5 where, after the first reading, it was referred to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee. This is in contravention of Article 106 (2) (b). All the subsequent processes are and will therefore be unconstitutional, unless this grave error is rectified”.

“The coalition, with due respect, appeals to our honourable MPs to take a step back and permit the constitutionally mandated due process to be complied with before the Bill is introduced in Parliament”.

Mr. Akoto Ampaw a legal practitioner and another leading member of the coalition described Parliament’s action as a ‘fundamental misstep’ but added that the house alone should not take the responsibility for the ‘misstep’.

“It is not necessarily an error of Parliament. It is an error on the part of those who introduced the Bill”.

“Parliament is a creature of the constitution. We expect that they take the necessary steps to correct the error. If in the unlikely event that they are not persuaded the coalition will discuss the matter to see the next line of action”, he warned.

Taxi Driver Brutally Murdered

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday February 17, 2010
A taxi driver believed to be in his early thirties has been brutally murdered and dumped at La, a suburb of Accra.

The body of the deceased, whose name was later given as Yaw Kodee, a native of Akyem Ofoase in the Eastern Region was found in the taxi cab with registration GR 6081–09 at a spot called Alontey bar bus stop on the Accra Teshie/Nungua beach road, about 150 meters from the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel.

When the Daily Guide visited the scene at about 1pm yesterday, a sizeable crowd some weeping had gathered whilst the La police were already there making preparations to convey the body to the morgue.

The deceased who wore a yellow vest and coffee colour trousers with black trainers appeared to have been strangled and there was blood in both his mouth and nostrils.

His face looked swollen and there were also deep cuts on his eyebrow and the left hand.

Everything in the taxi was intact except the key which was missing.

Eyewitness account had it that the cab Kia Avella – yellow and white, had been stationed close to the sea since 4am with the parking lights on. At that point in time they were afraid of getting closer to the vehicle.

They said they finally got closer to know what was happening only to find the deceased placed in between the front seat and back seats of the cab. The police was later informed about the death which they suspected that the deceased might have been a victim of armed robbers.

Just as the police were about to convey the body, a similar taxi cab rushed to the scene and the occupants claimed the deceased was their relative.

One of them, John Mensah who shed tears said they received a phone call from a member of the crowd informing them about the death of Kodee.

He said the owner of the car works at the Abossey Okai spare parts area and had given the taxi to them to make daily sale for him.

Mensah who is the actual driver of the cab, further said that Kodee asked for permission to use the taxi to work on Monday night adding “once he did not return on Tuesday morning we thought he had continued to work in the morning.”

The deceased is married with a little son.

Nsawam Prisoners Celebrate Valentine … Thanks To Pentecost Church

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday February 17, 2010
The Greater Accra Branch of the Church of Pentecost Prisons Ministry brought smiles to the faces of female inmates at the Nsawam Maximum Security Prisons on Valentine’s Day when it presented assorted items worth GH¢2,000 to them.

The items included bags of rice, sugar, cooking oil, toiletries, bread and second-hand clothing.

The church also used the occasion to share the word of God with the inmates.

In a short sermon, Prophet Jonathan Edmund Ameyaw, Kaneshie Area Head of the Church entreated the inmates to resolve “to look into the future with hope and optimism and not allow your current situation to get you down.”

“You should always be prayerful and have the belief that you are not alone in your struggles. God is with you".

During the presentation, Prophet Ameyaw said “we are working towards sustaining our outreach programmes in the prisons so that these people who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law can accept the word of God and probably lead positive lives after serving their sentences.”

Pastor Derrick Mireku, Regional Co-ordinator of the Pentecost Ministry said they were planning to make a monthly donation to the inmates to complement government’s effort towards caring for them.

He said a similar donation was presented to the male division of the prison while the La and Tema Districts presented some gifts to the senior correctional centre at Roman Ridge in Accra.

Pastor Asare Bediako of Nungua District, Apostles Barabu of Madina Area and Ato Addison of Teshie Nungua were all there to support the activity.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Constitution review chairman defends Appointment

Prof. Albert K. Fiadjoe is the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 16, 2010
The Chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) Professor Albert K. Fiadjoe says anybody who has any grievance with the setting up of the commission should go to the government and not him or any member of the commission.

“I have come home to retire only to be given such a national assignment. I was not part of the decision to set up the commission but as the Chairman I will supervise and ensure a very transparent and professional exercise”, he said.

Prof. Fiadjoe, an expert in public law, was answering questions at the maiden news conference in Accra yesterday to outline the commission’s programme of activities for the review exercise.

The ceremony was attended by all the nine members of the commission with the exception of Akenten Appiah-Menka, a lawyer and industrialist whom the Chairman apologized on his behalf and said he had asked for permission to travel to Kumasi to attend ‘an urgent family matter.’

Prof. Fiadjoe said the commission is an independent body which does not represent any particular interest group adding “the process of reviewing the constitution will be open, impartial and transparent in order to afford all Ghanaians at home and abroad an opportunity to the process.”

He said the commission will deploy the assistance of competent and professional experts to assist in measuring, evaluating and comparing its work with best practices elsewhere.

He also asked the public to discount rumours that the commission is working to sideline the Parliament of Ghana in the whole review exercise saying “this cannot be possible. There can be no change or amendment to the constitution without the active involvement of Parliament so the public should not entertain such rumours”.

The Chairman said the commission has categorized its work into three phases, starting from the establishment of the commission, research, consultation and documentation as well as the commencement of a national constitution review conference which will aim at finalizing their work.

He said that although the commission had just commenced full work “it has already received a number of submissions, some going the 39 issues initially identified.”
“We will ensure fair and credible exercise. We will tap the numerous expertise available to Ghana and elsewhere”.

He said the exercise will not be an elitist one because “the consultation strategy has been designed to ensure that it is not an Accra based exercise. It is going to be a nationwide exercise”.

The Chairman said the commission will partner the media effectively during the exercise adding “the media are the anvil on which the commission’s work is going to be anchored. The media is key to the success or failure of this exercise.”

He said at the end of the whole exercise it could possible that the public could call for the retention of the Constitution or “retain the constitution, but institute some corrective administrative actions or retain and further develop portions or of the constitution; or amend/repeal some portions of the constitutions.”

Prof. Fiadjoe said the commission was prepared to meet with all those who have reservations about the usefulness of the exercise adding “this is not a platform for disputation. It is a platform for sharing ideas.”

Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary of the CRC said the commission’s sources of funding will come from the government, development partners and the private sector, adding “we have a projected budget of 2.7 million US dollars but we are yet to receive any amount from anybody.”

He said the commission will embark on a nationwide exercise and make effective utilization of the District Assemblies and the traditional authorities adding “we have already received more enquiries from outside Accra than within Accra.”

On January 15, 2010, President J.E.A Mills inaugurated a nine-member CRC to “ascertain from the people of Ghana, their views on the operation of the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution and, in particular, the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution”.

The commission is also to “articulate concerns of the people of Ghana, as regards the amendments that may be required for a comprehensive review of the 1992 Conctitution.”

It is also to “make recommendations to the government for the consideration and provide a draft bill for possible amendments of the 1992 Constitution”

Also see

Monday, February 15, 2010

‘Journalism Faces Ethical Challenges’

Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr is an outspoken journalist in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 15, 2010
Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, has admitted that there are ‘serious’ ethical challenges currently confronting the practice of journalism in the country.

He however pointed out that such challenges do not constitute the basis to sideline the media in the democratic process, noting, “Media pluralism is indispensable in the quest to consolidate the country’s democratic dispensation.”

Mr. Baako was addressing students of the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA) at the University of Ghana in Accra on Wednesday on the topic, “Ghana’s democratic development: Role of the media in the 4th Republic.”

The symposium was organized by LECIA to enable the students to interact with some media personalities, including Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, formerly of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Gina Ama Blay, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Western Publications, publishers of Daily Guide and Emma Morrisson of TV3 Network.

Mr. Baako said, “There has been a long battle to bring the media landscape to where it now. The media played a significant role in the fight against military dictatorship and has also helped to break the ‘culture of silence’. We have collectively brought the nation to where it is today.”

He noted that although the print media is credited for blazing the trail in the quest to ensure freedom of speech, explaining that “the electronic media seem to have changed the media landscape even better.”

“Media pluralism is crucial in consolidating democracy. The proliferation of radio stations, civil society groups and professionalism of the military are all helping to prevent coups in Ghana”.

The Editor-in-Chief further said social commentary in the country should not be discouraged, adding, “I would prefer ugly noises to ‘culture of silence’.”

“Maintaining high ethical standards in journalism is the responsibility of very media practitioner and I admit that I have been guilty of ethical breaches at some point in time in my career and whenever my attention is draw to it I do a retraction,” he added.

Mr. Baako further revealed that in the case of ethical infraction, evidence must be produced so that the issue could be interrogated.

“The spirit of plurality that drives us forward is key. The media is a leader in this. Gradually, we are building a better and prosperous nation, he stressed.

Mr. Sakyi-Addo, who spoke on the development of democracy in Africa, said elections alone does not constitute democracy, but rather what happens in-between elections.

He said, “Most African countries would not meet a rigorous definition for democracy if we are to critically assess progress in those countries. However, we are all beginning to see competition and improvement in democratic standards on the continent.”

Mr. Sakyi-Addo said democratic practice was expanding the space for competition and serving as a source of encouragement for people to aspire for political office, indicating that “democracy has given people the voice to demand accountability and there is an incremental development in the political landscape.”

“In Ghana, we are getting dividends for choosing the path of democracy and we should all work towards strengthening the institutions that make democracy work better,” he noted.

He however expressed concern about what he termed as “undue monetization of the political process,” which according to him, is leading to the elimination of many sections of the society who would like to get involved in the political process.”

“Despite the challenges of democracy, process has been found to be ‘desirable, which is the best way forward for the development of Africa. It is a journey and involves a learning process, but it is not an end in itself,” Mr. Sakyi Addo emphasized.

Speaking on the topic, “Democracy and development in Africa: The Daily Guide’s experience,” Mrs. Blay said freedom of expression and media independence were critical elements in the democratic process without which there would be no democracy.

“The media plays an effective watchdog role in any democratic dispensation. It affords the people an opportunity to hold their leaders accountable to champion unity,” she said.

She noted that although the media in Ghana has a chequered history, it has hugely shaped freedom of expression in the country.

Mrs. Blay said currently the media is with faced with various challenges, including the lack of resources, technology and professionalism, noting, “In all these, the media has served as a necessary partner in our democratic process and the expansion of the frontiers of free speech.”

Ms. Emma Morrison, who shared her experience with the students, said effective utilization of the media would promote rapid development.

She said efforts by the local media to grow had been undermined by international organizations and institutions.

“Such institutions and personalities view the local media as insignificant. They prefer international media organizations to the local ones. They do not trust issues raised by the local media and only take action when the international media brings up issues,” she added.

She revealed that the media in post-conflict countries do not have adequate resources to operate effectively, stressing that they would do anything to survive at the expense of professional standards.

Dr. Vladamir Antwi-Danso, Head of LECIA, expressed concern about the undue politicization of issues by the media.

“The whole of Ghana is being infected with the syndrome of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and National People Party (NPP), which is unacceptable,” he said.

Also see

Drivers Battle Lighthouse Chapel

Dag Heward Mills is the General Overseer of Lighthouse Chapel International

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 15, 2010
Some drivers at La, a suburb of Accra yesterday demonstrated against the Light House Chapel International for attempting to erect a fence wall around the Olympia Cinema where the church operates.

Incidentally, the premises in contention is also used by the drivers as a lorry park and they say it will keep them out of business if the project was completed.

The drivers have vowed to make things uncomfortable for the church if the construction of the fence is not stopped.

Between 8 am and 12 noon, the drivers clad in red armbands staged a peaceful march around the cinema to register their displeasure about the development and intermittently obstructed both vehicular and pedestrian movement.

Gene Quarshie, Chairman of the La Drivers Welfare Union told the Daily Guide in an interview that the area was given to them to operate as a lorry station by one Captan who owned the land where the cinema is located.

“We have operated this station for more than 60 years and have never had problems with anybody. Even when the church took over the cinema, there had not been any problem until recently when they decided to fence the premises and keep us out”.

He admitted that the union did not own the land but claimed the church did not have the authority to keep them out of the lace, threatening “we will never leave the premises. We were here before the church came.”

“We are now forced to park on the streets. We are appealing to the La Mantse to offer the church a parcel of land behind the Trade Fair so that we can serve the public from the premises”.

Mensah Sackey, Assembly member for La Kplanaa Electoral Area said the lack of social amenities in the locality has created undue congestion.

He accused the church of ignoring the numerous advise he gave them claiming “the church is showing disrespect to the drivers despite my advice to them to go through the right channel to resolve this matter.”

He said the fenced wall was demolished by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) because the church did not have the necessary permit to develop the land.

Aslso see:

Consider other constitutions – Prof. Gyandoh

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday February 13, 2010
A research fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and former Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana has asked the constitutional review committee to consider all past constitutions in order to get a workable document for the country.

Professor Samuel Gyandoh says “we should not focus solely on the 1992 Constitution. We need to have a historical perspective. We should be able to look at all forms of the constitutional experiment to produce a highly effective working document that will address the country’s democratic challenges and ensure rapid development.”

He was speaking at the inauguration of a national constitution review coalition led by CDD to provide technical information through research and analysis for the impending constitutional review exercise.

The committee jointly chaired by Prof. Gyandoh and Justice VCRAC Crabbe, an eminent jurist, will collaborate with the civil society organizations and interest groups undertake public education and advocacy in key areas of democracy, governance and constitutionalism.

Prof. Gyandoh said issues such as selection of the majority of ministers of state from the legislature by the executive arm of government, the indemnity clause and the question of whether or not the constitution has given the President too much powers have become nagging issues that needed to be considered during the review.

“Do we want a government in which the President can go into the legislature to select its leaders for it or a regime where Parliament itself decides who should lead it?” he asked.

“We need to understand that we are trying to mix two different concepts that do not really mix. We should look at these from the instrument of governance and take into consideration our customary laws.”

Victor Brobbey, co-coordinator of the coalition said the CDD supports the constitutional review process adding it offers just as much opportunity for civil society to make inputs towards the exercise.

Justice Crabbe advised Ghanaians to see the exercise as a national one saying “the constitution affects everybody. It should not be viewed as somebody else’s responsibility to educate anybody. It is a civic responsibility.”

Emmanuel Bombande, Executive Director of West Africa Peacebuilding Network (WANEP) during questions and answers time advised the review committee not to make “the exercise appear as if somebody has an agenda to channel through the review.”

“The process should be holistic enough to ensure stability and deepening of the country’s democracy”.

Also see:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ban Okada

Okada phenemenon is catching on in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 12, 2010
THE NATIONAL Road Safety Commission (NRSC) says it is completely against the use of motorbikes for commercial use and sees the new phenomenon as an impediment in the effort to ensure sanity on the country’s roads.
The use of motorbikes popularly called ‘Okada” is fast becoming a means of transportation for many people especially in some parts of Accra and the Volta Region around Aflao.
Answering questions at a media briefing to outline its programmes and plans for the year, May Obiri-Yeboah, NRSC Director in charge of Education said if not checked immediately, the ‘Okada’ phenomenon could derail efforts of the commission and all other stakeholders in the fight against indiscipline on our roads.

She said a pilot study conducted by the commission into the ‘Okada’ business showed that the country did not stand to lose anything if it was banned.

Ms. Obiri-Yeboah said, “The NRSC is against the ‘Okada’ business. It is not safe for us to encourage it. All the neighbouring French-speaking countries who earlier on encouraged the system are advising us not to entertain it here in Ghana because they are finding it difficult to scrap it.”

“We have already met some motorbike importers and dealers and held meetings with some riders; they all admit that the practice is not safe but they hide behind the issue of unemployment to do it,” she explained.

“In some places where ‘Okada’ is common, these riders use the bikes to carry all sorts of things including coffins, dead bodies while others use it to facilitate robbery.”

She said the NRSC would open up a tender for consultants this month to look thoroughly into the issue and offer suggestions on the way forward.

Outlining the commission’s programmes, Noble John Appiah, the Executive Director said they were working to empower the Ghanaian passenger to demand “higher road safety standards and compliance to regulations.”

“We want everybody to appreciate the fact that road safety is a shared responsibility and if we are not able to tackle it properly, it will become another national health issue.”

He said the commission will launch the development and distribution of road safety education books for basic schools and training manuals for teachers next month.

Mr. Appiah said further that NRSC is ready to collaborate with the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Government Technical Training Centre to upgrade training for drivers with the launch of the drivers’ academy during the month.

He said the commission was working to reduce the spate of accidents and commended all stakeholders for their contributions towards ensuring road safety.

David Osafo Adonten, Director in Charge of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation said the driver’s academy was not being established to push the numerous driving schools out of business but is rather to help bring professionalism into the system.

Also see:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

‘Doctor’ gets 12 months

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 11, 2010
A 45 year old man who posed as a medical doctor without any qualification in medicine has been sentenced to 12 months in hard labour by an Accra Circuit Court.

Joseph Prosper Gomashie owned an unlicensed medical facility called Safe Physician Clinic at Bakpa Avedo near Sogakope in the Volta Region from where he attended to patients illegally.

Luck run out for him when on January 12, he appeared on a popular private television station in Accra to advertise his clinic. This raised suspicion leading to the an investigation by the Ghana Medical and Dental Council (GMDC).

When he made his first appearance before the court presided over by D.E.K. Dzaketsey yesterday, Gomashie pleaded guilty to one count of false assumption of professional title but told the court he had an explanation for his actions.

When given the chance to explain himself, Gomashie said “I wanted to help my people”, and admitted he had no training in medicine but had pursued an on-line course and thought he could practice as a medical doctor.

The judge then told him that the court had found his explanation to be ‘unreasonable’ and thus handed down the sentence.

The court also ordered the confiscation and destruction of all medical equipment found in Gomashie’s possession.

Presenting the facts, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Paul Kissi Frimpong said on January 12, the television station carried a news item in which Gomashie posed as medical doctor treating patients at the Safe Physician Clinic.

He said the GMDC quickly investigated the clinic’s background and found out that it did not have any record with the council.

The prosecutor told the court that on February 5, Gomashie came to the council’s secretariat to register the clinic and it was detected he was not a medical doctor.

The case was then transferred to the police and during a search at Gomashie’s office the police retrieved medical equipment like the surgeon’s scissors, surgical blades and stethoscope.

The police also retrieved assorted drugs, patient records, prescription forms and laboratory request forms.

Also see:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kufuor supports E-voting

Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor is a former President of Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday February 10, 2010
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has added his voice to the call on the Electoral Commission (EC) to explore the possibility of the introduction of an electronic (e-voting) concept in the country.

Frank Agyekum, his spokesperson said yesterday that “the former President fully supports the e-voting concept and urges the EC to consider it as a way forward towards the enhancement of the country’s democratic dispensation.”

Speaking at the end of a two-day conference on biometric voter registration and e-voting in Accra yesterday organized by the Danquah Institute (DI), a policy think thak and research and analysis centre, Mr. Agyekum quoted the former President as saying “the e-voting concept is easier, more foolproof and cost effective in the long run.”

“Many countries are going e-voting. It has been tested to be more reliable. What prevents Ghana which is seen as a pacesetter in democratic development from incorporating the concept into our system”, Mr. Agyekum quoted the former President further.

Mr. Agyekum said the former President believes that all the political parties and other stakeholders could commit themselves to the concept, discuss the challenges surrounding its implementation and ensure the best way forward for a smooth take-off.

“We have fought to be where we are in our political process and I believe we can go further to sanitise our electoral system to make our elections more credible and more trusted”, he quoted the former President.

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Executive Director of DI who spoke on the e-voting concept introduced in India said the convenience with which the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is used in that country should motivate all political parties and Ghanaians to agitate for e-voting.

“We have studied and looked at all the various models and the Indian model appears to suit our system”.

He said the concept when introduced would cut out huge cost associated with organizing elections and make the electoral process credible.

Mr. Otchere-Darko further said that although the biometric voter registration to be introduced soon would prevent under-aged voting, it might not necessarily prevent multiple voting once there is no e-voting system to it.

Also see:

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Haruna rules out E-voting

Haruna Iddrisu is Ghana's Minister of Communications

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 9, 2010
A conference on biometric voter registration and electronic voting (e-voting) has commenced in Accra with a call on the Electoral Commission (EC) not to dismiss the concept without subjecting its viability to a ‘deeper and wider public interrogation.’

The two-day event is being organised by the Danquah Institute (DI), a policy think thank, research and analysis centre to create a national platform for stakeholders to lead the discussion on the possibility of facilitating the adopting of biometric voter registration and subsequently the e-voting system in Ghana.

Opening the well attended conference, Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications said even though the implementation of both the biometric voter registration and e-voting were practicable in the long term, they could not be introduced anytime soon.

“All political parties have endorsed biometric registration which is prelude to e-voting and what we are doing here today will help to shape our electoral process in the future. However, we do not have the requisite infrastructure for a speedy implementation of the all important projects in the short term”.

He suggested to all political parties to channel their effort towards the e-voting project by 2016 saying “the EC does not have the capacity to supervise the project now. I still think we can get a cut-off point by 2016 by which time we would have been well prepared.”

He identified challenges such as the review of existing electoral laws to accommodate the project, reducing the illiteracy rate and building the capacity of the EC to efficiently supervise the project.

Dr. William Ahadzie, Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA) speaking on the NIA registration and its implications for the creation of a credible voters register, said the authority had the capacity to design and produce a list of all eligible voters to help the EC validate its database.

He said the mass registration currently underway in some parts of the country is “more secured and clearly safer”, adding “the data we collect has high integrity levels”.

Dr. Ahadzie said after the mass registration had ended, the authority would continue to register every Ghanaian saying “we are establishing regional and district offices as well as introduce registration officials to densely populated areas to register everybody.”

Nana Asante Bediatuo, a legal practitioner speaking on the legality of the introduction of e-voting said the project when successful would eliminate the incentive for political violence, explaining that those who resort to physical attacks on political opponents would be discouraged by the system.

He however said that, the e-voting concept cannot be implemented without the amendment of the existing law.

He also said the NIA clearly had a wider mandate than the EC and be utilized effectively by the commission to sanitize the electoral system.

Nana Bediatuo said if the e-voting agenda were to be pursued vigorously then it was going to compete for attention with issues such as the impending district level elections and a foreseeable referendum arising out of the impending constitutional review.

Hubert Akomea, Head of IT at the EC during questions and answers said the commission was working towards the biometric voter registration exercise for the next elections but the e-voting was impossibility without an amendment of the existing law.

He said that before the EC could use any data from the NIA, the laws needed to be amended, saying “the current legislation prevents us from using any voters’ register that we have not compiled ourselves and which we have no answers to.”

Ben Ephson, a journalist and election analyst disagreed with Mr. Akomea saying “this is the time for the EC to take advantage of the NIA”.

Yaw Osafo Maafo, a former Minister said “let us look at our legislation. Nobody should hide behind his/her turf to put the country into an unnecessary expenditure when those resources could be used for other developmental purposes”.

Alhaji Salisu Baba, an IT consultant said the EC taking advantage of the NIA could save a lot of resources for the nation, adding ‘repeated registration by the EC is unacceptable.”

In his welcome address, Professor Addo Fening Chairman of the governing board of DI said, “in Ghana’s volatile and charged partisan political environment, it is extremely important that we have a trusted election process, where elections will be regarded as fair, even by the losing side.”

“We cannot, as a nation dismiss without the benefit of a full domestic interrogation the viability of electronic voting unless of course the EC has better options of how to tackle not only multiple registration but also multiple voting, ballot box theft, ballot box stuffing, high numbers of spoilt ballots, long delays in declaring the President-elect and the violence and intimidation that take place to create opportunities for the above electoral vices to take place”.

Professor Ken Attafuah, a lawyer and criminologist who chaired the conference said there are still problems with the credibility of electoral outcomes which needed to be dealt with once and for all.

He said e-voting may not be foolproof but represents considerable improvement and signals and optimism to solve election related disputes.


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I am now writing for the Daily Guide,Ghana's most patronized and well read private newspaper