Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ya Na ‘Killers’ Freed

Mohammed Habib Tijani (R) former DCE for Yendi and Sayibu Mohammed (L)all all accused leaving the court room.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday March 30, 2011.
There was wild jubilation at the Accra Fast Track High Court premises yesterday when all 15 men accused by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) of killing Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in March 2002 were acquitted and discharged.

The trial court presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal in a 2hours 47 minutes (1:06pm to 3:53 pm) ruling on a ‘Submission of no case’ application filed by the accused persons, acquitted and discharged them because the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against all of them.

“You have been found not guilty by this court so I have the duty to acquit and discharge you of all the counts,” Justice Ayebi who was sitting as an additional high court judge said.

Those on trial were Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE of Yendi in the erstwhile NPP regime as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest were Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

They all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder, with Zakaria Forest (A7) still at large facing an additional charge of murder.

The court however said A7 (Forest) “is similarly acquitted and discharged,” even though he could not appear in court to stand trial.

The NDC had politicized the killing of the Dagbon Chief, promising to fish for the killers.

At page 34 of the NDC’s manifesto titled: “A better Ghana – Investing in people, jobs and the economy” and with sub-title “Protecting the people”, the party promised to among other things “Set up a new and truly non-partisan and independent Presidential Commission to re-open investigations into the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II and his elders in March 2002.”

The NDC also used the issue of the late Ya Na extensively in their campaign to win power in the 2008 general elections. NDC founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings was very vocal over the Ya Na issue calling for the jailing of the suspected killers.

However, instead of opening fresh investigations into the matter the NDC government, arrested 15 people suspected to have been involved in the murder of Ya Na in Yendi and put them before a court in Accra.

The Abudus and Andanis have been engaged in a protracted chieftaincy dispute and it reached a deadly height leading to the death of the Ya Na and 29 of his elders between March 25 and March 27, 2002.

Justice Ayebi held that the prosecution failed to lead evidence beyond reasonable doubt against all the accused persons saying the essential elements needed to convict the accused persons were not proven while the evidence led by the prosecution were so discredited.

The court said the prosecution could not discharge the burden of proof needed for the court to convict the accused persons and the evidence were manifestly seen to be so unreliable that no reasonable court or tribunal could convict the accused persons.

Justice Ayebi said the prosecution had tried to create the impression that the Wuaku Commission Report (the commission set up by the then President John Agyekum Kufuor to investigate the Yendi crisis of March 2002) was not relevant to the trial but that was untenable because the whole prosecution was mounted based on the report as the facts of the case stated.

He said majority of the prosecution witnesses (PWs) testified on oath at the commission in 2002 and also testified in the trial of Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo (the two men acquitted and discharged by an Accra Fast Track Court for killing the Ya Na) but their evidence in the current trial were so discredited that it undermined their credibility as witnesses.

He siad the police investigations was one-sided and only Abudus were targeted for the trial saying “what these Andani witnesses are telling the whole world that any Abudu is equally liable for the murder of the Ya Na”.

The court said it was not safe to leave evidence fraught with inconsistencies in the hands of the jurors to pass a verdict on the accused persons.

He said for instance that the contentious issue of the charred remains of the male body presented by the prosecution as that of the body of the Ya Na by the prosecution could not be resolved because the prosecution did not conduct any DNA analysis to establish whose body it was yet wanted the court to accept that it was that of the overlord.

The court said once the prosecution claimed to have led direct and cogent evidence as opposed to circumstantial evidence there was the need to prove a case beyond any reasonable doubt but they did not and defense counsel was able to prove that the evidence led by the prosecution was “watery, suspicious and unreliable.”

On the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, the judge held that it was rare for a prosecution to lead direct evidence saying “in the particulars of offence it is stated that they agreed to act together with a common purpose… The language of the particulars of offence has put together the two elements of ‘in agreement’ and ‘acted together’…Any talk of agreement will not be referred to an indirect circumstantial evidence…Evidence led was not and could not have been direct as the prosecution submitted in the trial.”

On the Wuaku Commission’s Report, the court said the process of eliciting evidence is not different from what the trial court used saying “how can the prosecution turn around to say that the same report used to initiate the investigations cannot be relied upon in this trial. When it suited them they made references to the report. Their submission is not relevant.”

The court said it was the same Wuaku Report that the prosecution used to indict A8 (the DCE) in this trial and cannot turn around to say it is not relevant.

Justice Ayebi said the commission was set up three months after the crisis at a time when the issues were so fresh in the minds of the witnesses but what the same witnesses said in the instant trial, eight years down the lane are complete departure or additions of their previous testimonies and that cannot be acceptable.

Turning to the accused persons, Justice Ayebi said none of the witnesses was able to lead evidence directly or indirectly against A1 (Mbadugu) and that all the evidences in the current trial had been fabricated against A1.

On A2 (Zohe), the court held that the evidence by some of the accused persons that he took photographs by holding the severed head of Ya Na appears to be false and said the prosecution could not show any evidence to that effect adding “it is not surprising that in the address of the prosecution nothing was said about A2.”

On A3 (Achiri), the judge said Gurundo Wumbei who was listed on the trial of indictment and who made serious allegations against A3 was never brought to court to testify and PW7 (Binchera Wumbei) who claimed to have seen A3 shooting was nowhere near the palace as claimed.

On A4 (Samasama), the court said the prosecution witnesses gave contradictory evidence against him because before the commission they (witnesses) had said it was Yidana Sugri who held the severed hand of the Ya Na and never mentioned A4 but in the trial the same witnesses said it was A4 who dragged the body of the Ya Na saying “PW3’s evidence is too sweet to believe.”

On A5 (Mohammed) the court said no evidence was led to show that he conspired to commit murder while the evidence led against A6 (Braimah) was described as an “after taught’ by the court.

On A8 (DCE), Justice Ayebi said it was on record that he helped to impose a curfew in Yendi and it was Prince Imoro Andani, then Norhtern Regional Minister who lifted the curfew saying the evidence by the witnesses against the DCE was based on hear say and had no probative value.

“At the commission PW1 (Amadu) did not give this evidence but eight years down the lane he could recollect what happened in Yendi” adding “PW8’s (an Andani) evidence that he was with the DCE in Tamale to broker peace appear to sound credible.”

On A9 (Baba Zey) the evidence led against him is false and inconsistent with what the same witnesses said at the Wuaku Commission while on A10 (Mohammed Cheampon) the court held that he was never mentioned and even the one who mentioned him at the commission was not brought to testify saying “the evidence against him is inconsistent and unreliable”.

On A11 (Mustapha), Justice Ayebi said the witnesses evidence against him are not credible and cannot be relied upon whilst on A12 (Imoro) the court said there was nothing for the court to rely on to convict him.

On A13 (Leftee), the court said he should not have been brought for trial in the first place because he was not listed among those sent to the Magistrate Court to be indicted saying the evidence led against him is an “after taught.”

On A14 (Yussif) and A15 (Nyaa), the court said the evidence led by the prosecution against them is inconsistent and unreliable.

Turning to PW10 (Dr. Jaswant Wadhwani, the pathologist who performed autopsy on the body of the Ya Na), Justice Ayebi said “it is not sufficient to say the Ya Na died and leave it at that”, adding that before both the commission and the Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo trial the witness (Dr. Wadhwani) said he could not establish the identity of the charred body of the male adult and that it could be that of anyone else.

The court said however that in this trial the same witness said the charred male body was that of the Ya Na saying to date DNA analysis has not been done yet Dr. Wadhwani was able to tell the court that the charred body was that of the Ya Na adding “the prosecution failed to positively to submit that the body was that of the Ya Na.”

The judge said the investigator (Detective Nkrumah PW11) did a shoddy job saying “he told the court surprisingly that he could not look for the Wuaku Report, its proceedings or the proceedings in the Yidana Sugri trial which were very relevant to this case… He did not build a case for successful prosecution.”

The court praised detective Chief Inspector Charles Adaba who conducted the initial investigations saying “he tried to follow clues”

The judge had a word for the people of Dagbon saying “you should learn to live in peace. You are descendants of one ancestor. Nobody knows your history more than you do” and also commended the media for a “fair” reportage throughout the trial.

Phillip Addison, lead counsel for the defense after the ruling said “the judge’s ruling is ‘erudite’ but Principal State Attorney Anthony Rexford Wiredu did not say anything.

The defense team comprised of Philip Addison, Ata Akyea, Kwame Akufo and Abukari Yakubu while Ms. Gertrude Aikins (Director of Public Prosecutions), Mr. Wiredu and Solomon Atadze handled the case at different stages of the trial.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CDD African Governance Report launched

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday March 29, 2011.

THIS YEAR’S African Governance Report (AGR), the most comprehensive biennial report that monitors and assesses the progress African countries are making on governance has been launched in Accra.

Initiated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) with assistance from the UNDP, the report identifies capacity gaps in governance institutions and makes appropriate policy recommendations aimed at improving governance on the continent.

The 2011 Ghana Governance Assessment will be on the theme “Elections and the management of diversity in Africa” and the Center for Democratic Governance (CDD) has been commissioned to coordinate compilation of the Ghana report.

In the AGR report, a decentralized approach is adopted in the preparation and national steering committees and is composed of different stakeholders that are formed to ensure inclusiveness and broad consultations.

As a result, a national steering committee chaired by Lloyd Amoah of Ashesi University was also inaugurated by the CDD and the committee’s task will be to monitor compilation of the report.

Launching the project, Prof. Miranda Greenstreet, former Director of the Institute of Adult Education, University of Ghana underscored the need for all researchers to work towards the production of a report that would improve governance on the continent.

“The AGR report has become perhaps the most important and strategic knowledge and policy document on governance in Africa. Among other things, the report has become a tool for policy dialogue, a reference material for scholars, policy makers, and civil society organizations.”

She added: “it is a veritable instrument for identifying good practices across countries. The report constitutes the background material used in the African Peer Review Mechanism process in most countries.”

Giving the overview of the report, Kwasi Ampratwum of the CDD revealed that the reports of 2005 and 2009 which recommended vital solutions to erase deficits in governance in Africa were grossly under utilized by most African governments.

“The issue of governance is at the heart of Africa’s development and we should nurture that towards the consolidation of democracy.”

He said the project is focusing on elections because it has become a veritable document that brings real democracy to the continent.

Explaining the methodology for the AGR III Project, Daniel Armah-Attoh of the CDD said they will use data gathering techniques such as expert opinion surveys, focused group discussions and desk research to reach between 120 and 150 respondents.

He said all countries taking part in the project will use the same research instruments validated by the UNECA.

Lloyd Amoah in his acceptance remarks on behalf of the committee said they will work to get a report that would bring real reforms to governance on the continent.

MPASS Launches Golden Jubilee

Some of the dignitaries at the launch (from R-L) A.A Sowah (District Director of Education), Mike Acheampong (Chairman of Fisheries Commission), Justice Beatrice Agyemang Bempah, Prof. Omane Antwi, Joseph Omari Debrah (DCE), GK Agyare (Headmaster) and Seth Acheampong (MP)

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday March 29, 2011.

MPRAESO SENIOR High School (MPASS) on the Kwahu Ridge in the Eastern Region at the weekend lunched its Golden Jubilee anniversary at the Teacher’s Hall in Accra.

The anniversary which is being celebrated under the general theme: “MPASS @ 50: Providing quality education for socio-economic development,” is expected to be held in November at the school’s premises.

At the Teacher’s Hall where the anniversary was launched, past, present students and current staff were there to support the fundraising event to boost infrastructural development at the school. The target set is GH¢500,000.

Addressing them, Professor Kwame Boasiako Omane-Antwi, Vice Rector of the Pentecost University and an old student underscored the need for all past students to collaborate to support efforts at making the school a center of excellence.

“Many schools in the country are making it because the old students are ready to offer support for their alma mater. We should begin to close our ranks, build networks and make sure MPASS succeeds.”

He said the people of Kwahu should make sure that education becomes the mainstay of the local people which would in turn bring about accelerated development.

Sam Akurang Wiafe, Chairman of the anniversary planning committee said the state of disrepair at MPASS is unacceptable adding “the past students have sat by unconcerned whilst the school’s infrastructure continues to deteriorate.”

“MPASS has produced many well-placed Ghanaians and this is the time for all of us to look back and promote educational excellence so that the current generation will not continue to study under harsh conditions.”

Joseph Omari Debrah, District Chief Executive of Kwahu South assured of government’s commitment towards the improvement of educational infrastructure in the country saying “government views education as a worthy investment.”

He said the achievements of MPASS are enviable but a lot more could be done: “we should re-model the school to meet the needs of the changing times,” he noted.

Seth Acheampong, Member of Parliament for Mpraeso said “MPASS is the government’s lead school on the Kwahu Ridge and has the potential to become a center of excellence. It is up to the past students to collaborate with the school’s authorities to make it happen.”

George Kwaku Agyare, Headmaster of MPASS announced that for the first time the school’s board of governors “is now in the hands of the past students group chaired by Justice Beatrice Agyemang Bempah, a retired High Court judge and first girls’ prefect of MPASS.”

He said the school needs a modern assembly hall, dormitory block, modern ICT center, staff accommodation, tarred roads, fence wall and renovation of the classroom blocks.

He commended some of the past students for their continuous support and praised the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) for being there for the school in difficult times.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ahwoi, Jamal Disagree... Over appointments to assemblies

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday March 28, 2011.

The issue of whether or not the executive arm of government should continue to appoint people to the various district assemblies came up strongly for debate at an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) forum on Decentralization and Local Governance held in Accra on Wednesday.

Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, a local governance expert who was the main speaker advocated that the mandate to make appointments to the various assemblies be taken from the President and be given to the Regional Houses of Chiefs because the politicians continue to abuse the current system.

But Baba Jamal, a Deputy Minister of Information strongly disagreed with Prof. Ahwoi and said it would not be prudent to take the power away from the President, adding “the chiefs must be given the opportunity to be part of the local governance process but must not be given the power to make nominations. That power should remain with the President.”

Speaking on the topic: “Rethinking decentralization and local government in Ghana – Proposals for amendments”, Prof. Ahwoi said there should be a legislation that would also stop the appointment of Members of Parliament as Regional Ministers explaining “MPs who become Regional Ministers are rendered ineffective in either one or both functions due to geographical constraints.”

He said the 1992 Constitution’s definition of the Local government concept is vague and that has resulted result different governments applying the concept in their own understandings.

Prof. Ahwoi who is a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said “the concept was not clearly defined. In the first NDC administration we passed laws we felt were in the interest of local governance. The NPP also took over and passed laws based on their own understanding of the concept. At first I was of the view that the NPP was making a mistake but I have now realized that it was done in the absence of a law that properly defines the concept.”

He said there are too many Presidential ‘infractions’ when it comes to the creation of more municipalities and district assemblies even though it would not be politically ‘prudent’ to criticize the executive for doing it.

He suggested that to make the local governance concept really work, the power to create more municipalities and district assemblies should be taken away from the President and given to the Electoral Commission (EC) so that the suspicion of political interference would not be there.

He said District Chief Executives (DCEs) should not be elected but nominated and interviewed by the Public Services Commission before being approved by the assemblies adding “their tenure of office should not be fixed but should be unlimited.”

Prof. Ahwoi said the District Assembly Elections should be coterminous with that of the general elections because it is cost effective and also because during transitional periods the assemblies are rendered redundant.

He also said the political parties should be allowed to participate in the District Assembly elections so that it would bring some semblance of power sharing in the country.

He said there is always conflict between the MP and DCE because the of the insecurity in the DCE position adding “MP’s support in the constituency is never safe as long as the DCE nurses parliamentary ambitions.”

He said Presiding Members of assemblies should be elected whilst MPs positions at the assemblies should be scrapped to enable them to concentrate on the national legislature.

Prof. Ahwoi said every district assembly should have a legal department to advise it on legislations and check abuse of office, corruption and misuse of resources.

Dr. Christine Amoako-Nuamah of the office of the President bemoaned the ‘unacceptable’ partisanship in the country saying “we always pretend our democracy is doing well just because we conduct election every four years. We should stop pretending all is well with our democracy.”

Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said any amendment in the local governance act should consider giving women more access to the process.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Show At Ya Na ‘Killers’ Trial

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday March 23, 2011.
There was no show at the trial of 15 persons charged for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in 2002.

The court presided over by Justice E.K. Ayebi of the Court of Appeal was expected to give his ruling at the Fast Track High Court, Accra yesterday on whether or not the accused have a case to answer after filing a motion for ‘Submission of no case’ but the court could not hear the matter.

Daily Guide learnt that the case could not be heard because the ruling was not ready. The accused persons were also not brought to court.

Subsequently, the court fixed Tuesday March 29, 2011, as the next date for the ruling when the accused persons could either be set free or asked to open their defense depending on the judge’s ruling.

Defense counsel declared their intention to file ‘Submission of no case’ after the prosecution failed on three occasions to present more witnesses.

The prosecution officially closed its case on November 5, 2010 and the court granted the request and asked them to file it by November 23, 2011.

However, just as the motion for “Submission of No Case” was to be moved, the prosecution, on November 18, 2010, filed “an application to re-open its case and tender recording through witness.”

The affidavit claimed that the sixth accused person in the case, Alhassan Braimah was recorded by one Moses Nsor, an ex-security officer who confessed that he (Braimah) killed the Ya Na.

As a result there was a prolonged argument as to whether or not the prosecution should be allowed to re-open the case to adduce additional evidence but the court on December 17, 2010 threw out the prosecution’s application, saying they were in possession of the very evidence they are seeking to adduce but failed to bring it before closing its case.

All the other accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect, who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, with Forest (A7) facing an additional charge of murder.

They are currently in police custody, except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

Those on trial are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE of Yendi as second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Osei-Adjei, Gyimah appeal against ruling

Akwasi Osei-Adjei, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ghana.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday March 22, 2011
Akwasi Osei-Adjei, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Daniel Charles Gyimah, the former boss of National Investment Bank (NIB) have appealed against the decision by an Accra Fast Track High Court to ask them to open their defense on charges of conspiracy to Contravene the Public Procurement Act and Contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

On February 25, 2011 six out of the eight charges including causing financial loss to the state leveled against Messrs Osei-Adjei and Gyimah were yesterday dropped by an Accra Fast Track High Court Financial Division presided over by Justice Bright Mensah after they have filed an application for “Submission of no case”.

However, the court said the accused still have to answer for two counts of conspiracy to contravene the Public Procurement Act and contravention of the Public Procurement Act after being accused by the state of importing 300,000 bags of rice from India between April 2008 and February 2009 and indicating 2,997 of those bags of rice were diverted, leading to a financial loss of some GH¢1.5 billion to the state.

Awaiting the Court of Appeal to fix a date for the appeal application to be moved, Messrs Osei-Adjei and Gyimah again filed another application for stay of proceedings at the trial court pending the outcome of the appeal to have all the charges dropped.
They are arguing that their appeal application has a greater chance of success and should the trial court go ahead to ask them to open their defense in respect of the two counts, it might prejudice the appeal process.

In the notice of criminal appeal filed on March 18, 2011, the accused/appellants said part of the High Court’s decision complained of was “the holding that the prosecution has led sufficient evidence in respect of Counts 1 and 2 and the consequential order for the accused persons to open their defense on same.”

On the grounds of appeal, the appellants said “the trial judge erred in failing to consider what the essential ingredients of an offence under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663)”.

They continued: “The learned judge erred in law and fact in holding that sufficient evidence has been led to prove the essential elements of the offences under Act 663 that accuse have been charged with.”

They said the judge erred in failing to give due regard to the fact that the evidence of the prosecution including that of the Director of Monitoring at the Public Procurement Authority (PW 14) was emphatic that there was no use of public funds as defined by the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act. 663) in the financing of the transaction, the subject matter of the charges leveled against the accused persons.

The learned judge erred in failing to appreciate that the NIB is known as a procurement entity as per the records of the PPA (tendered as Exhibit 7) for it to comply with Act 663 and further said the judge again erred in failing to appreciate that the evidence of the prosecution on counts 1 and 2 had been so discredited through cross examination and contained such conflicts as to cause its own destruction.

“The learned judge, with the greatest respect relied on irrelevant evidence to conclude that a case had been made out by the prosecution on counts 1 and 2”, adding “the order for the accused persons to open their defense on counts 1 and 2 was against the weight of evidence in support of those offences.”

The reliefs sought from the Court of Appeal is “a reversal or setting aside of the ruling of the High Court” which held that the accused persons had a case to answer on counts 1 and 2 and a consequential order acquitting and discharging the accused persons on those counts.

The trial court will resume on Friday March 25, 2011and Godfred Yeboah Dame, counsel for Mr. Osei Adjei is expected to notify the court about the latest development.
The six charges dropped by the trial court include conspiracy to commit a criminal offence namely, using public office to for profit and conspiracy to commit criminal offence namely, stealing.

The rest are stealing, conspiracy to willfully cause financial loss to the Republic and willfully causing financial loss to the Republic.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Political Terrain Hostile To Women

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Ekiti State first lady in Nigeria
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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday Mrach 19, 2011.
Despite the existence of conventions, declarations agreements and laws to encourage women participation in politics, the African terrain is still too hostile for women to venture into politics, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Ekiti State first lady in Nigeria has said.

“Nobody is going to give us political space. We should be prepared to fight for it. It is not going to be easy but we should be able to prevail in the end and make the political terrain receptive to women,” she charged a packed crowd that gathered at the British Council Hall, Accra on Thursday evening.

Mrs. Adeleye-Fayemi, wife of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and co-founder of the African Women’s Development Fund, AWDF was the main speaker at the Seventh Kronti Ne Akwamu Lecture instituted by the Center for Democratic Governance (CDD), a policy think tank.

The Kronti Ne Akwamu Lecture (Democracy and Governance Lecture) is one of CDD’s flagship programmes held annually to find solutions to Africa’s numerous democratic problems and this year’s edition had the theme “Democratization and women in Africa – Progress, stagnation or retreat.”

Mrs. Adeleye-Fayemi who is also President of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development, AWID, Board of Directors said “majority of women do not want to seek higher office due to the fear factor. The terrain is tough enough to scare you from this male-dominate arena.”

She said violence, intimidation, thuggery, rowdism, buyllying have been unleashed on women who venture into the political landscape while the few who are able to succeed pander to the whims of their political godfathers and other influential persons on the society.

“If we do not put systems in place to ensure that women have a fair share in political office we will always be reduced to offering support for the men and will never get to the frontline where our views and contributions towards national development can be properly felt.”

Mrs. Adeleye-Fayemi said male politicians make strenuous effort to instill fear in women whose political potential and exploits threaten his political fortunes, saying “political spaces on the continent have grown more and more violent. Look at what happened in Kenya, Guinea, Zimbabwe and other places.”

She continued “they use violence to deter women who want to occupy political space. Those who survive are mostly relatives of powerful male politicians and influential people but the tendency to manipulate such persons is not in doubt”.

She said the ultimate compliment that men give to women is “she is not acting like a woman. She is like a man,” adding “women are not their worst enemies. It is rather the patriarchal dominance that is impeding the effort to empower women”

Mrs. Adeleye-Fayemi the indifference that exist among women leaders is another factor impeding the crusade for gender equity saying “we are all used to taking care of our immediate needs. This middle class disease or malaise must be dealt with if we want to get to the top”.

She said the situation where the few women who get to the top try to undermine other women must be condemned in no uncertain terms saying “we should serve with integrity and remain accountable to those who put us there.”

She said the time has come for political parties to effectively engage their women’s wing in all decisions and called on First Ladies on the continent not to arrogate themselves the right to lead women movements.

She called for mentorship of young women to make them responsible for the future, saying “women on the continent have been socialized into believing that what they are going to accomplish will be less important but this is the time to work hard to bring hope to them”

Justice Vida Akoto Bamfo, a Supreme Court judge who stood in for Chief Justice Georgina Wood said even though the effort to get women into responsible positions is being realized, there was the need to accelerate it to ensure the total development of the continent.

Trudy Kernighan, Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana said societies in which women are excluded from public life either formally or informally cannot be described as truly democratic adding “it is only when women participate fully in policy-making and institution building will their perspectives be truly valued and integrated and the concept of democracy will be fully realized.”

Prestea Youth Challenges GSRL over $50 million

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday March 19, 2011.
A group calling itself Concerned Youth of Prestea in the Western Region has challenged Golden Star Resources Limited, a Canadian mining firm operating in the Western Region to show the whole world the $50 million it claims it has spent on the mine in Prestea.

According to them, the company is trying to mount public relations stunt to get government’s endorsement in order to continue to exploit the local people who are directly bearing the brunt of the company’s activities.

Last week several media outlets reported that GSRL had spent $50 million on care and maintenance, mine rehabilitation and training of over 150 newly-recruited employees in preparation for the re-opening of Prestea underground mine.

GSRL team, led by Daniel Owiredu, Vice-President Operations, Ghana, paid a courtesy call on Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Mike Hammah to formally introduce the company to him since assuming office as sector head.

However, the concerned youth, in a statement to the media signed by Michael Osei Boadu said, “We would like to draw the attention of all Ghanaians and the world at large to the falsehood churned out by GSRL during a meeting with the Sector Minister which was reported in sections of the media. The company told the Minister that it has spent over $50 million in the area.”

“We find the position of GSRL very strange, since the former administration offered to give the Prestea underground mines to the company in 2001 nothing has been done by the company. Rather it decided to embark on surface mining which was not the reason why the government at the time considered the company for the takeover.

“It may interest Ghanaians to know that the Prestea underground is in the state that it was left by the last operators.”

They said “the number of newly-recruited employees that GSRL talked about beats our imagination as there are no indications that such people have been recruited. “Even if it is anything to go by, how many of them are from Prestea because the unemployment situation in the area is worsening.”

The youth said GSRL officials told the Minister that licensing processes had stalled because the company was unable to hold public hearings in the community.

“This is an indication that the company is not doing things right and we call on the authorities to visit the company’s areas of operation to verify things for themselves.”

“We sincerely believe that the company’s claim is one of its gimmicks to outwit the government to issue the license to it to help in perpetrating ills against the good people of Prestea.”

They promised to “go all out” to oppose any attempt to allow the company to mine in the area.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Teacher’s leaders defiant

Some Organized Labour leaders at Thursday’s press conference, including Mr. Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General (3rd left) Mrs. Irene Duncan Adanusa (2nd right) and Kofi Bonney (3rd Right)TUC Chairman .

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By William Yaw Owusu
THE beleaguered leadership of both of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the National association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) say nobody can use illegal means to oust them from power.

Teachers in the country over the past weeks have taken issues with both the government and their leaderships by organizing series of demonstrations over the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) which the teachers feel they have been shortchanged.

A group calling itself Coalition of Concerned Teachers whose membership cuts across both GNAT and NAGRAT are calling on executives of the two associations to resign because they claim the leaders have outlived their usefulness in negotiating better conditions of service for teachers but the leadership is adamant.

Irene Duncan Adunusa, General Secretary of GNAT at a news conference held in Accra by organized labour under the leadership of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to address issues of unrest in the Ghana Education Service (GES) in Accra yesterday said the calls for GNAT executives to resign are unwarranted.

In the same vein, Angel Carbonu, Vice president of NAGRAT who was also at the news conference said the concerned teachers have every right to express their views but would not allow anybody to sidestep the constitution and remove them unlawfully.
“The procedures to remove people from office have been clearly spelt out in our constitution and that is the way to go. We should all abide by the rules,” he said.

Mrs. Adanusa said “they can bring a proposal or a resolution to congress to decide if they want all positions elected. GNAT has full structures under which it operates and until the constitution is changed they cannot say the leadership should be removed through illegal means”.

She said for instance that the position of the position of General Secretary is advertised for qualified applicants to apply while the staff is appointed by the national council saying that she could only leave the office if she decided not to work with GNAT again and not under anybody’s orders.

Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of TUC condemned police brutalities meted out to teachers last week when the teachers wanted to accompany their leaders to present a petition on their condition of service to the Ministry of Education.

“The disproportionate use of force by the police on the teachers was unwarranted. We would like to call on the police to call on the police to work closely with us so that together we can ensure peace at the labour front instead of the use of excessive force”.

“As organized labour, we encourage all workers to express their grievances. But proper procedures and processes must be followed in accordance with the constitution and internal regulations of unions.”

Mr. Asamoah conceded that there were numerous problems associated with the migration of teacher’s salaries onto the SSSS saying “we share the concerns of teachers and all educational workers and fully support their demand for improved remuneration and pay equity in the public services.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Life In Danger Says Amina Brother

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William Yaw Owusu

Thursday March 17, 2011.
Michael Ofosu Frimpong aka ‘Amina Brother’, the young man who claimed to be on the Yutong Bus where the alleged mass rape of passengers occurred yesterday told an Accra Circuit Court that he fears for his life at the Nsawam Maximum Security Prisons where he is being held on remand.

He made the appearance before the court presided over by Kyei Baffuor and charged with deceit of public officer and in another surprise move told the presiding judge that certain people wanted him dead.

“I have been in custody for four months. I was in police custody before being sent to the Nsawam Prisons but I am not safe there. My life is in danger. They want to kill me,” Frimpong stated in court.

It was the same Frimpong who testified as a prosecution witness at another Circuit Court trying Amina Mohammed, the lady at the center of the mass rape saga, alleging that he was asked by top New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwarts like Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman, Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin North, Yaw Osafo Maafo former Minister of Finance and counsel for Amina, Prof Ken Attafuah to corroborate the sex story so they can give him some money.

The accused person after a few days turned around to claim that he was coached to say those things against the NPP stalwarts in the Amina trial by the police and the Attorney General’s Department.

His allegations have since sparked political uproar with both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the NPP at each other’s throat over who is manipulating Frimpong.

When the case was called at exactly 11: 02 am yesterday, Paul Asibi Abariga, a State Attorney trying the case said following a court order Frimpong was sent to a psychiatrist to assess him but the report was still not ready.

He then asked the court for an adjournment to enable the police to procure the psychiatrist report from the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

The judge then enquired from the prosecutor about the way forward of the case since he is aware that Frimpong was used as a witness in the Amina case.

Mr. Abariga replied: “My Lord I want specific instructions on the way forward of this case. We will submit the report and inform the court accordingly on the way forward.”

Frimpong who listened attentively from the dock suddenly raised his right hand and when the judge granted his request to speak, he said “I have been in custody for four months. I was in police custody before being sent to the Nsawam Prisons but I am not safe there. My life is in danger. They want to kill me.”

The judge then asked: “Are you not the same person who said you did not want to be granted bail when I gave you one the last time?”

Frimpong replied: “I knew that people were looking for me”.

The judge then said “as a result of your detention, I even reviewed your bail conditions from one surety to be justified to one surety without any justification. Don’t you have relatives?”

Frimpong said “My family does not care about me. I want to go home. The prisoners want to attack me.”

The court then adjourned proceedings until March 25, 2011 to await the psychiatrist’s report.

Frimpong who has no legal representation was picked up on November 17, 2010 after granting an interview to Great FM, an Achimota based private radio station in Accra where he gave certain descriptions about what he claimed happened on October 11, 2010, in what is now known as the ‘Amina Bus Rape’ saga.

Just as dusts were settling on the Amina mass bus rape matter which resonated throughout the country, teasing many minds as to its veracity given also the politicization of the subject, Frimpong, a resident of Kumasi granted an interview to Great FM claiming he was on board the bus with registration GN 623-10 where the alleged incident took place.

Recounting the incident on Great FM, Frimpong had claimed that they left Accra at about 10:30 pm and when they got to Kubease near Ejisu, he heard the driver shout ‘Jesus’ and applied the brakes.

He claimed the armed robbers fired warning shots some of which hit the bonnet and as well as the side mirror of the bus and glasses splashed on the driver.
“The driver tried to move but they had blocked the road with logs and therefore he had to park.”

He said he saw four of the robbers two of whom were women and the women first entered the bus and ordered the passengers to surrender all their personal effects including mobile phones and money.

“They searched everywhere and after taking what they wanted, they ordered the women to step out of the bus first”.

Frimpong claimed that when the female passengers were asked to step out of the bus, they were all ordered to remove their clothing including the panties and braziers before the robbers lined them up beside the bus.

“The male passengers were also ordered out and I was ordered to lie on top of a woman who is more than 40 years and have sex with her,” he told the radio station.

He claimed two females on the bus were spared in the sex ordeal because one was very old and another said she was in her menstruation cycle and added that two white women who were on the bus were also forced to have sex with the men.

Frimpong further claimed that when he pretended to be having sexual intercourse with his ‘partner’ one of the robbers hit his waist with the butt of a gun and it put him into forced ejaculation and went ahead to have sex with the woman.

He corroborated Amina’s claim that a man who was sending his daughter to school was forced to sleep with the 14-year old girl.

He said after the incident the driver sent them to Ejisu Police Station where they were all asked to stand in front of the office whilst the driver went inside with a police officer and after returning the police asked the driver to proceed to his destination and come back to report to them.

When asked by the host of the programme why it had taken him so long to help the police unravel the mystery surrounding the matter, Frimpong said he was afraid the police would arrest him and treat him in the same way they have done to Amina.
He had said nobody had given him money or influenced him to come to say what he is saying now.

The Amina-related story, now a politicized issue, has not been without side attractions since it hit the media landscape and the young man spoke on a radio station, corroborating the mass sex revelation.

The repucursions has been far-reaching because apart from the political undertone, 17 police officers have fallen over the Frimpong phone-calls from the police cells where he was being held before his recent transfer to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons last week.

Following the story, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Paul Tawiah Quaye, ordered a random search of police cells in Accra, an inspection which showed a number of mobile phones in possession of inmates across cells in the Accra Command and those found culpable have since been interdicted, affecting 17 cops.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Libya Returnees...18 Arrested

Some of the returnees at Daily Guide.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday March 16, 2011.
After surviving the blazing guns of Libyan strongman Mummar Gaddafi, some Ghanaians fleeing the deadly carnage in the conflict stricken oil rich North African country landed on home soil but were swiftly arrested by the security agencies.

Information available to Daily Guide indicates that about 18 returnees have been detained by the police upon reaching the Kotoka International Airport, Accra and distributed to various police stations in the city.

Baba Jamal, a deputy Minister of Information confirmed the arrest but said he knew only eight people.

Their offence it was gathered is that they were alleged to have embarked on a demonstration in the Libyan capital Tripoli against the Ghana Embassy and vandalized property and that may have triggered their arrests.

However, some of the returnees yesterday told Daily Guide that the embassy staff allegedly passed false information to the government that those who took part in the demonstration were New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters.

Hussein Swala, 29 and Rafiu Muktar, 26 who arrived on March 12, 2011 on board a Bangladeshi Airline which was chartered by the government to evacuate the stranded Ghanaians on arrival at KIA said “the security detail at the airport has a list of people they are looking for and once you disembark they ask you to stand aside after which you are sent to the police station to be detained.”

They said some of their colleagues have been in detention between three days and one week without any interrogation or charge or court appearance and added that due to congestion in the Airport Police Station cell, they are now being distributed to other stations in the metropolis.

They mentioned Aziz Adam and Abdul Wahab Suleman, 24 as some of the detainees saying “a lot more are in custody and nobody is saying anything. The police keep tossing you when you make enquiries about their detentions.”

Mohammed Seidu, 45 a resident of Benghazi who got the chance to escape earlier said his brother has been detained for six days saying “when you visit him he tells you that nobody is attending to him”.

Narrating their ordeals, the two said they slept at Tripoli Airport for more than three weeks before they got the chance to fly to Ghana saying “it is a precarious situation over there.”

The accused the Embassy officials of neglecting stranded Ghanaians and claimed the staff took between $40 and $200 before being allowed to board the plane.

“We slept on the ground at the airport and the Embassy officials would come around clandestinely and put other people on board the planes and as it continued the Libyan security asked us to demonstrate against the embassy to end the discrimination.”

“When you go to the embassy they will sack you and ask you to go to the airport. You have to pay bribe before you are given Travelling Certificate (TC)”, they alleged.

They claimed “because the government would find out about their deeds, the embassy sent advanced message to the government that those who demonstrated are NPP supporters.”

Daily Guide’s investigation at some of the police stations indicated that some of the detainees have indeed been transferred from Airport Police Station to other facilities.

A source at Kotobabi Police Station confirmed that some of the detainees have been brought there and said it is the Airport Police that is coordinating the arrests.

When reached on telephone, Baba Jamal, a Deputy Information Minister confirmed to Daily Guide that some of the returnees have indeed been detained but said he knew about eight people.

He said two were detained about four days ago and six more were arrested on Monday, saying that the detainees were identified by their colleague returnees as those involved in vandalizing the Ghana Embassy in Tripoli.

The Deputy Minister said apart from vandalizing the embassy and harassing the staff, the suspects also damaged the windscreen of the Ghana Embassy vehicle saying “the offence was committed on Ghana’s soil in Libya.”

Baba Jamal said counter reports from the embassy indicate that the bribery allegation leveled against the staff could not be substantiated.

He said 10, 158 Ghanaians have been evacuated by the government from Libya so far and that there were four more flights to come adding that if there is a backlog the government would plan for them.

The Deputy Minister’s account shows clearly that more than the estimated 10, 000 stranded in Libya since clashes broke out between government forces and rebels who are fighting to end the 42-year rule of Col. Muammar al Gaddafi.

Meanwhile other media reports indicate that the returnees are appealing to the government to ensure that they receive their belongings from Libya as promised them.

The returnees, who are being hosted at the El-Wak Sports stadium, said they have waited for over 2weeks in expectation of receiving their luggage but to no avail.

In an interview with Peace FM, some of the evacuees recounted their experiences since arriving in Ghana, claiming they have not been given food, water no mattresses to sleep on.

Women cry foul over Constitution Review

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday March 16, 2011.
It appears women and gender advocates are not happy about certain aspects of the ongoing constitution review process and have therefore vowed to get gender issues properly addressed in a new constitution.

At an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) forum in Accra on Wednesday to discuss issues of gender and its place in a new constitution, it was obvious that the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) had not paid adequately attention to concerns raised by advocates of gender and they feel shortchanged.

Participants, including longstanding gender advocates, could not fathom why gender issues could not even make it to top 25 pressing issues that need to be reviewed if there is going to be a new constitution.

They said the Constitution Review Conference held from March 1, 2011 to March 5, 2011 to climax the review process clearly demonstrated lack of attention being given to gender matters, adding that issues of women and children were not part of the thematic areas thoroughly discussed.

Chris Dadzie, Gender Advocate and member of the IEA Constitution Review Coalition, who spoke on the topic “Gender and the 1992 Constitution” gave an elaborate piece on how issues of gender should be seen as a developmental challenge and not any ordinary issue.

She said the wording as well as certain provisions of the1992 Constitution clearly discriminates against women and they were seeking to take advantage of the current exercise to get comprehensives laws on gender for national development.

Mrs. Dadzie said the 1992 Constitution failed to take into consideration specific gender protection clauses, adding “we are calling for equal rights of all persons. There should not be any form of discrimination whatsoever.”

She said countries like Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa have been able to insert specific gender protection clauses in their various constitutions and issues of gender are no longer left in the hands of the courts to interpret as it is in Ghana.
She said “let us put in what we want and we will use that as reference point to get gender issues addressed for accelerated development.”

She noted that whenever issues regarding politics come up, the authorities are able to find the needed funds to address them but when it involves other social issues including gender, it was difficult for them to provide funds, noting, “The time has come to commit gender issues in our new constitution so that it would not be difficult to such policies to be implemented.”

“The legal framework to address gender disparities is just not there. You need proper inputs in the constitution to be able to address gender issues properly.”

Mrs. Dadzie said gender issues are important in national discourse but their discussions tend to degenerate into issues of women because people have not fully appreciated the role of gender in national development.

“After many years of research and advocacy on gender, it looks like we are not there yet because there are too many gaps in the constitution and the CRC did not deem it fit to see gender as one of the top 25 issues in the ongoing review process.

During contributions, majority of participants were of the opinion that the CRC did not do enough to get issues of gender on the agenda despite strong submissions made by coalition women’s rights.

Dr Rose Mensah- Kutin, the Executive Director of ABANTU said “we have a pressing issue that we need to deal with and it is through public policy that we get gender issues properly addressed. The gaps in the current constitution on gender are overwhelming”

Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba, Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, who chaired the forum said, “We have to be serious when discussing issues of gender. We cannot continue to sideline women’s contributions when we want to accelerate our development.”

Bernice Beatrice Boateng aka B.B, Member of Parliament (MP) for New Juaben South, said gender advocates would not get anywhere if they refuse to collaborate with their male counterparts in the struggle.

“Ghanaian experts have delivered wonderful papers on gender and many countries have copied them to make it better for women yet we have failed to tap their expertise.”
Cecilia Abena Dapaah, MP for Bantama, cautioned advocates not to attempt to reinvent the wheel saying “we have people who can put their heads together to get a workable document that would encourage affirmative action.”

She bemoaned the rate at which the budget for Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs is being reduced saying “the ministry cannot do much if their budget is below expectation”

ACP Kofi Boakye of the Education Directorate at the Ghana Police Service advised advocates not to antagonize men and other interest groups in their effort to seek recognition for women.

He said the issue of proportional representation should be looked at critically since it is one of the surest ways to get the voices of women heard.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Foot soldiers oppose Mills’ Nominee

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday March 15, 2010.
Tension is mounting within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the Sekyere East District of the Ashanti Region following the nomination of Solomon Adjei Mensah as the new District Chief Executive (DCE) by President JEA Mills.

Irate foot soldiers are threatening to make it impossible for the former Assembly man to work in the area if President Mills refuses to drop him. They claim he was the same person who sabotaged former DCE, Kwadwo Adae before he was recently booted out of office by the President.

Sekyere East District with Effiduase-Asokore as its capital in recent times has become a battle ground for the NDC over who qualifies to lead the ruling party there.

It was the same area where the sacked Ashanti Regional Minister, Kofi Poku Manu was nearly lynched by rampaging NDC foot soldiers on September 8, 2010 when he tried to arrange a meeting between the feuding factions.

The agitators, made up of supporters and detractors of Mr. Adae, were at each other's throats and a police intervention averted what would have been a nasty scene.

The police had to fire several gunshots to disperse rampaging foot-soldiers and Mr. Poku-Manu had to flee for his dear life after he was chased with weapons including cutlasses, sticks and other dangerous implements amidst the firing of bullets.

Some of the agitators demanding that Adjei Mensah be dropped by President Mills include Kofi Antwi (Secretary of Asokore Pentecost Ward), Alhaji Inuwah Mohammed (Chairman Asokore Ward), Kwabena Prempeh (Chairman Effiduase Damang Ward), Kwasi Oteng (Chairman Akuakrom Ward ) and Stephen Okai (Okaikrom Ward).

In their petition of March 9, 2011, the agitators called for the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Adae who they said was a victim of circumstance.
They alleged that it was Solomon Adjei Mensah who instigated all the assembly members to collect a whopping GH¢45,000 (GH¢ 1,500 each) and mobile phones before approving the nomination of Mr. Adae as DCE in 2009.

They said Adjei Mensah worked against Mr. Adae when he was the DCE and that they did not understand why such a person should be nominated by the President.

The agitators said they sent a similar petition to the Castle and other high places including the NDC Headquarters on January 16, 2011 to draw the President’s attention to the nomination of Adjei Mensah but it appears nobody wants to act on the petition.

“In fact the silence seems to suggest to us that our membership does not matter to the party. In view of the above there is a strong feeling amongst the membership of the party at the Asokore Zongo and its surroundings that the party has forgotten us,” the petitioners lamented.

“We therefore have no alternative than to quit the party. It is a difficult decision but that is the course that both the regional and national executives of the party want us to take. They want us to leave the party,” they added.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ursula Presents Forms…Taunts Fritz Barfuor

Ursula Owusu (left) presenting her papers to Henry Addy
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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday March 14, 2011.
A firebrand of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ursula Owusu at the weekend presented her completed nomination forms to enable her to contest in the primaries in the Ablekuma South Constituency.

There was fanfare on Saturday at the Ablekuma South Constituency office of the NPP at Mamprobi, Accra when Ursula led a convoy to present her forms amid shouts of “All die be die” and brass band music.

Ursula Owusu, one of the first person to present her nomination forms, did not waste time at all after receiving the microphone and taunted Fritz Barfuor, the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) and his ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), saying “they are just caretakers of the seat for us. We will take it back in 2012”.

“The one on the seat…what is his name? I do not even know his name…Do you know his name?” she asked the cheering crowd, kindly tell them we are coming for our seat.”

She was met on arrival by the constituency executives, led by Henry Addy, the Chairman of the NPP Elections Committee for the area who after going through the forms accepted it and advised her to play by the rules of the party.

“No aspirant should engage in acts of intimidation, violence and insults. Do not hold or present yourselves as candidates before the election on April 30, 2011,” he said.

For her part, Ursula said “this is the first step to victory. All we need now is unity, dedication and hard work to snatch the seat from the non-performing NDC”
She said the constituency is cosmopolitan and emphasized the need to reach out to every group to ensure victory for the NPP in 2012.

“NPP has vision and ideas to deliver and it was up to those holding responsible positions to sell the party’s plans to the electorate, all the residents are waiting on the NPP delegates to choose candidates who can deliver”.

“I offer myself for this position and I know the electorate would have confidence in me to wrestle the seat from the NDC. I have already had interactions with the constituents and they are all looking forward to seeing me as the NPP candidate and I promise not to let them down.”

She said the NPP when elected would encourage gender mainstreaming and make issues affecting women a priority and thanked all those who were contributing towards her campaign.

Turning the heat on the NDC, Ursula said “they cut the sod to construct the Dansoman main road in 2009 and two years down the lane the project is at a standstill. Businesses have collapsed as a result of the delay in the construction. We beg them; they should complete it for us.”

Gloria Akuffo, a former Minister of Aviation in the erstwhile NPP administration, who accompanied Ursula, described her as a ‘fighter’ and great ‘debater’ who is capable of handling issues her own way.

She said the greatest tribute for the late Theresa Amarley Tagoe who held the seat for many years was to vote for Ursula to continue from where Madam Tagoe left.

Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe, a former Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro and an NPP stalwart said, “if someone wants to lead the NPP in this constituency, then it should be a woman who is very strong and I see that in Ursula.”

“We want MPs who speak in Parliament and Ursula is capable of doing just that for the party and the development of the country.

He called for hard work, dedication and commitment to face the NDC, adding, “If they have nothing to hide why would ‘All die be die’ comment be a bother for them.”

An aspiring parliamentary candidate in the Oda Constituency, Mr. Quiatoo in a solidarity message said “we are not just looking for candidates. We are looking for people who can rally the electorate to get us the needed votes. Ursula has demonstrated enough that she is capable, qualified and eligible.”

Police arrest teachers

One of the teachers in handcuffs.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday March 12, 2011.
Heavily armed police officers yesterday unleashed terror on unarmed teachers who had converged at the Teacher’s (GNAT) Hall in Accra to accompany their leadership to present a petition to the Ministry of Education over their condition of service.

Teachers in public schools throughout the country in the past weeks have been up in arms with the government over the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) which they feel they are being shortchanged.

The police from the Greater Accra Regional Command fired several rounds of teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a sizeable number of teachers at the main entrance of the GNAT Hall close to the Ministry of Information between 12:30 and 1pm what the teachers described as unwarranted.

In the process, the police arrested five teachers including two females but were released later on the orders of DCOP Rose Bio Atinga, the Accra Regional Commander who had joined the officers around 1:12 pm.

Chief Superintendent Joseph Oklu leading the operation told journalists at the scene that those arrested either hurled stones at the police or tried to resist arrest but the teachers disputed the claim.

He said the teachers were supposed to congregate at the GNAT Hall while their leaders were escorted to the Ministries to present the petition but the teachers defied the order and tried to hit the streets.

“They rebelled against their leadership and we did not think it was the right thing to do after our earlier agreement with their leaders,” he stated.

He said “they were not supposed to hit the streets but they tried to do so”, adding “we fired teargas to disperse them but we did not use rubber bullets. They were getting riotous and we needed to act swiftly.”

Chief Supt. Oklu alleged that it was the leadership that reported the behaviour of their members after they tried to run amok adding “we did not use brute force.”
But the teachers disputed the claims saying the police over reacted.

Forster Akufo of the Kaneshie Bishop Cluster of Schools who was one of the teachers arrested was seen in handcuffs and he told DAILY GUIDE that none of their colleagues threw stones.

“I did not throw any object or resist arrest. I was standing under the tree when one of their commanders ordered weapon wielding officers to fire at us without provocation.”

“They threw rubber bullets and teargas at us and beat me up. Is that how they reward us for sacrificing for the nation,” he asked rhetorically.

Richard Amanyo, another teacher corroborated Mr. Akufo’s version and said the police indeed fired rubber bullets and teargas.

“The police over reacted. We were asking our people to remain calm but an officer in mufti kept ordering his men to attack us and they did it with brute force.”

Emelia Adu, a teacher at Kaneshie Bishop 2, JHS said she was slapped and beaten up by the police without provocation.

The teacher who almost wept identified the same senior police officer in mufti as the one who had slapped her for no reason.

Patrick Mensah, one of the leaders told DAILY GUIDE that as a result of the disruption by the police, they have decided to suspend the presentation of the petition for now.

He said the police have taken issues personal because the teachers were asking for equal conditions of service as the one being enjoyed by the police.

“When they picked up some of our members and put them in their vehicles, they said teachers are challenging the single spine they are currently enjoying and that we cannot compare ourselves to them.”

According to DCOP Atinga, the leadership of the teachers met them and they agreed that there would not be any procession and that the leadership alone would present the petition at the Ministries.

She said the reports she got from her commanders indicate that the police did not use rubber bullets but admitted the use of teargas.

The police later showed the media a Land Cruiser which they claimed its siren was damaged by stone throwing teachers.

The Police Public Affairs Director, Superintendent Kwasi Ofori in a news release after the incident justified the use of force to disperse the teachers from demonstrating, cautioning teachers and other professional associations that the police would not take kindly to acts of lawlessness.

“The police had to resort to the use of teargas to disperse irate teachers whose activities and deeds constituted an act of lawlessness and vandalism at the TUC area in Accra on the afternoon of March 11, 2011.”

He continued: “The irate teachers wielding offensive weapons like stones, sticks and cutlasses attacked the police and innocent pedestrians and obstructed public ways and also caused damage to some police vehicles.

“All attempts by the police to maintain some sanity were fiercely resisted by the irate teachers, compelling the police to resort to the use of tear gas to maintain law and order.”

Strangely, Daily Guide was at the scene and observed that none of the teachers arrested held any offensive weapon.

In related development, the government has agreed to give all teachers of the Ghana Education Service (GES) a “Teachers Retention Premium” of Fifteen percent (15%).

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was yesterday to finalize the negotiation.
According to the MoU the negotiating parties were made up of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (TEWU) of TUC on the one part and the Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning, Employment & Social Welfare, and Education, and the Ghana Education Service (GES), Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) on the other.

It said “this premium shall be enjoyed by all professional and non-professional teachers of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and not just the professional teachers alone as prevailed in previous arrangements.”

“In addition, certain categories of the non-teaching staff of GES who are members of the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) of TUC whose job functions provide critical support to teaching and learning such as Laboratory Technicians etc, shall also enjoy the Premium and the implementation of the agreed Premium shall take immediate effect from yesterday March 11, 2011.”

It said the government has set up a Technical Committee to correct the errors and a roadmap for the consideration of categories 2 & 3 allowances, meant for all public services employees, will be circulated on March 15, 2011.

Hunchback killed for rituals

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday March 12, 2011.
Residents of towns and villages near Assin Fosu in the Central Region are living in fear following what appear to be ritual killings in the area.

Just as dust was settling on the mysterious murder of two friends Yaw Bondam, 33 and Nicolas Fianyo, 25 and their three dogs at Wawaase in late February, another gruesome murder has hit Anyinabiram near Assin Fosu.

According to ASP Joshua Kwasi Ansu, Assin Fosu Divisional Crime Officer, the police have uncovered the mutilated female body in her 50s believed to be a hunchback at a bush in Anyinabiram.

He told Daily Guide via telephone that three friends who had gone to farm discovered the body on February 26, 2011.

He said the deceased’s son, Kwaku Quaye had told the police that when he returned from the farm at about 2pm on February 23, 2011, two unknown young men came to the deceased requesting for old Cedis and old schnapps bottles to buy.

Quaye told the police that the men gave his mother GHC5 and took her photographs and promised to come back for the old Cedis as well as the bottles later on February 25, 2011.

ASP Ansu said on February 25, 2011 at about 6:30am the two men returned claiming they reside in Asikuma and subsequently Quaye took some old currencies, gave them to the deceased and left for the farm.

According to the police, when Quaye returned from the farm, he was told the young men had left with the deceased to Asikuma but she never returned until her body was found in the bush.

The police say they are making frantic efforts to locate the two men.

Friday, March 11, 2011

WACAM Against Mining In Protected Areas

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday March 11, 2011
WACAM, an Environmental and Human Rights Non Governmental Organisation, which employs Rights-Based Advocacy (RBA) approaches to build the capacity of communities affected by mining, has made a passionate appeal to the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) not to allow mining in forest reserves and other protected areas.

“It is necessary to use the national constitution to protect the remaining forest reserves in Ghana. WACAM is thus proposing to the CRC to allow a clause in the constitution that would ban mining in forest reserves,” Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM said.

In a petition to the CRC as part of WACAM’s contribution towards the constitution review exercise, Mr. Owusu-Koranteng said mining lobby groups are desperately making attempts to push an agenda that there should be a provision in the national constitution to permit mining in forest reserves, adding that “it would be suicidal for the nation because mining has not yielded the needed benefits for the nation after years of destroying the environment.”

He said “there is widespread poverty in communities in mining areas. The people continue to be impoverished whilst these selfish companies continue to plunder our resources and send them abroad. Interestingly these companies would never be allowed to operate in the countries where they come from.”

“Multinational mining companies have targeted the mineral resources and that is why they want to push a provision in the constitution of Ghana to allow mining in forest reserves.

Even though the 1999 Land Policy does not promote mining in forest reserves the policy has been abused over the years due to the fact that it had little or no legal backing, adding, “If sovereignty resides in the people of Ghana, then the Constitution of Ghana should vest the natural wealth of the country, especially the minerals in the people to give meaning to the constitutional provision”.

“The level of control of the people of Ghana over decisions relating to mineral exploitation is indicative of the sovereignty of the country. The President of the Republic of Ghana would only act as a trustee for the natural wealth (including minerals) which should be vested in the people of Ghana.”

Mr. Owusu-Koranteng said WACAM has proposed a principle called ‘Free Prior and Informed Consent’ (FPIC) in the constitution to give practical meaning to vesting the mineral resources in the people and reduce the conflicts associated with mineral exploitation in Ghana.

“It is our belief that the FPIC would empower local communities in natural resource governance and give practical meaning to the Constitutional provision of vesting minerals in the people as a way of demonstrating that Ghana’s mineral resources are controlled by its people,” he added.

WACAM works with mining communities in Obuasi, Kenyase, Nzema, Tarkwa, Prestea, Akyem area and NGOs such as Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), Ibis, Oxfam America, G-RAP, Kasa and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

In the course of its work, WACAM engages the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the National Peace Council.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ya Na ‘Killers’ Get Date

Posted on:

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday March 8, 2011.
An Accra Fast Track High Court will on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 rule on whether or not the 15 persons charged for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in 2002 have a case to answer.

This follows the completion of the filing an application for ‘Submission of No Case’ by the accused persons, filing of response by the prosecution, as well as the filing of a reply to the prosecution’s response by the defense.

On Friday, the trial court, presided over by Justice E.K. Ayebi of the Court of Appeal before fixing the date, asked Kwame Boafo Akuffo, who represented Phillip Addison as counsel for the accused persons, the reasons why the defense team made references to Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the 7th accused person in the application when they (defense team) were not representing him (Forest).

Mr. Akuffo replied that the defense team referred to Forest on legal constitutional grounds and not factual matters.

The accused persons could either be set free or asked to open their defense depending on the judge’s ruling on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Defense counsel declared their intention to file ‘Submission of no case’ after the prosecution failed on three occasions to present more witnesses.

The prosecution officially closed its case on November 5, 2010 and the court granted the request and asked them to file it by November 23, 2011.

However, just as the motion for “Submission of No Case” was to be moved, the prosecution, on November 18, 2010, filed “an application to re-open its case and tender recording through witness.”

The affidavit claimed that the sixth accused person in the case, Alhassan Braimah was recorded by one Moses Nsor, an ex-security officer who confessed that he (Braimah) killed the Ya Na.

As a result there was a prolonged argument as to whether or not the prosecution should be allowed to re-open the case to adduce additional evidence but the court on December 17, 2010 threw out the prosecution’s application, saying they were in possession of the very evidence they are seeking to adduce but failed to bring it before closing its case.

All the other accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect, who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, with Forest (A7) facing an additional charge of murder.

They are currently in police custody, except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.
Those on trial are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE of Yendi as second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

Friday, March 04, 2011

DCE Nominees Pay bribes

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday March 4, 2011.
Kwamena Ahwoi, a former local government minister says Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) nominated by the President paid bribes before getting approval from their respective assemblies but failed to mention those who collect the bribes.

Prof. Ahwoi who is a Senior lecturer at GIMPA said “there is too much corruption. The DCEs have to pay bribes to be approved and as a result the effectiveness of the assemblies has been corrupted.”

Prof. Ahwoi was contributing to a Syndicated Thematic Group Discussions on Decentralization and Local Governance at the ongoing Constitution Review Conference in Accra yesterday.

After more than a year of consultations towards possible review of the 1992 Republican Constitution, the CRC is concluding its activities with the five-day conference to deliberate on issues in the constitution that have come up for review.

The conference serves as platform to table over 80,000 submissions received and processed by the commission; make use of experts to assist the conference to arrive at solutions and options for constitutional redesign, relate national experiences and issues with international best practices as well as build consensus around issues tabled for discussion at the conference.

Judging from the daily turn out, the conference can be said to be witnessing overwhelming participation from the public.

Professor Ahwoi, an ardent member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said DCEs are the products of the factions within ruling parties saying “being appointed as DCEs is like being appointed as a chief because the day you are enstooled it is that same day that they start plotting against you.

He said the situation has degenerated to the extent that competence is no longer a criterion for the nomination of DCEs and but rather it is popularity that reigns supreme in appointments.

Prof. Ahwoi said once a faction is unable convince the President to nominate their favourite they gang up to sabotage the DCE and that resulted in the numerous conflicts in the country.

He cautioned against the election of DCEs and said even if it has to be done it should include only those who were elected into the assemblies and not those who were nominated to the assemblies.

He said election of DCEs only bring out most popular persons and not the competent.
There were varied opinions on whether or not the position of a DCE should be elected.

While some said the current situation where the President nominates for the assembly to endorse, others were of the view that the current dispensation can be improved by giving the President the mandate to select between three and five persons for the assembly to endorse one.

Other contributors also argued for the election of DCEs because if that is done it would make the DCEs more responsive to the people and also ensure accountability.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Blackout on Constitution Conference

Prez. Mills and Vice Prez. Mahama in a group photograph with Akenten Appiah-Menkah (left), Prof. Albert Fiadjoe (4th left), Rev. Prof. SK Adjepong (2nd right) and Mrs. Sabina Ofori-Boateng. Behind them are: Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Osbarima Kwesi Atta, Naa Alhaji Iddrisu Abu,Nicholas Amponsah, Gabriel Scot Pwamang and Mrs. Jean Menasah.

Posted on:

BY William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday March 2, 2011.
The National Constitution Review Conference kicked off at the Accra International Conference Center yesterday but the colourful opening ceremony was marred by abrupt electricity power failure.

Professor Albert Fiadjoe, Chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) was mid-way into his speech when the whole room was plunged into total darkness at exactly 10:38 am generating murmurings.

Security details of President John Evans Atta Mills quickly cordoned off the dais where the President and the Commissioners sat and it took about eight minutes for power to be restored.

After more than a year of consultations towards possible review of the 1992 Republican Constitution, the CRC is concluding its activities with the five-day conference to deliberate on issues in the constitution that have come up for review.

The conference will serve as platform to table over 80,000 submissions received and processed by the commission; make use of experts to assist the conference to arrive at solutions and options for constitutional redesign, relate national experiences and issues with international best practices as well as build consensus around issues tabled for discussion at the conference.

The opening ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Vice President John Dramani Mahama, Former President JJ Rawlings and his partner, the Speaker of Parliament Mrs. Joyce Bamford Addo, Chief Justice Georgina Wood, Minsiters of State, Parliamentarian religious leaders, diplomats and a lot more.

However, Prof. Fiadjoe told the gathering that former President J.A. Kufuor and his Vice, Alhaji Aliu Mahama had informed the commission that they were travelling but said they had assured him that they will be present for the closing ceremony.

Opening it, President Mills said the 1992 Constitution has served the served the country to its ability but as the country’s democracy grows “there is the need to give weight to the Constitution.”

He said there was the need to “re-engineer”, “reshape”, “fill the lacuna” to make the constitution “responsive to the exigencies of our time”.

President Mills thanked the commission for “the excellent work” saying they had been non-partisan and were able to devise strategies that ensured wide and broad consultations.

He commended Ghanaians for participating massively in the exercise and said it had afforded the opportunity to many to speak up adding “this should lead us to build consensus.”

The President also thanked development partners including UNDP, British High Commission, and DANIDA for their contribution towards the success of the exercise.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Fiadjoe dispelled rumours that their task was to re-write the constitution and also said the commission had not usurped the work of Parliament saying the 1992 Constitution is resilient.

He said there was nothing wrong for the executive arm of government to initiate the move for constitutional reforms.

He said criticisms they faced “sharpened our mind and focus,” and added that the commission was able to assert its independence in their work.

Prof. Fiadjoe said there was the need to review the constitution judging from the overwhelming submissions received by the commission.

He said the commission was able to live above reproach by working within the confines of their terms of reference.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Invest in Somalia – Rawlings Tells Corporate World

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday March 1, 2011.
Former President JJ Rawlings has asked corporate institutions and investors not to
wait until peace is achieved war torn Somalia before rushing there with investments.

“Somalia is in need of internal structures if the peace-building process is to succeed. We have a responsibility politically, morally and ethically to contribute towards the peace objective of Somalia.”Mr. Rawlings who has been appointed as the African Union (AU) High Representative to Somalia said in Accra yesterday.

President Rawlings was speaking at a three-day conference on the role of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in support of the implementation of the Djibouti Peace Process for Somalia.

The conference which is being attended by AU and international diplomats and other top officials from Somalia was opened by President John Evan Atta Mills.

Former President Rawlings said it was “imperative that international organizations such as the AU, United Nations, European Union, League of Arab States and others join hands in a concerted effort to help us bring lasting peace to Somalia.”

He said part of the problem in Somalia is the leadership vacuum created by the inability of some the elected politicians and members of parliament to stay within influential distance of those who elected them adding “we cannot succeed if we do not join forces in tackling Somalia peace process. Working independent of each other is not the answer.”

He said the reality on the ground is the “seeming uncontrollable situation” but the situation “is not impervious to reason, dialogue and influence.”

President Rawlings said Somalia currently faces the threat of famine cause by prolonged drought and alerted the international community to move fast to save the situation with relief aid.

“Let us fashion out some more innovative approaches that would enable us complement ongoing efforts in Somalia and the sooner we move into Somalia the sooner will we be able to speed up the cry of our Somali brothers and sisters.”

He paid glowing tribute to Uganda and Somalia for sacrificing to commit troops to Mogadishu, the Somali Capital and called on all countries that pledged to commit troops to honour the pledge.

Opening the conference, President Mills made a passionate appeal to the AU and the international community to step up their effort to bring lasting peace to Somalia because the people of the war torn country “have suffered for far too long.”

“The situation in Somalia is totally unacceptable but past failures should not dampen our resolve to help the people of Somalia.”

He said although there have been 13 different peace agreements since the broke in Somalia 1991, nothing meaningful had come to Somalia and said the time has come for the AU and all stakeholders to “exercise more forceful mandate” to bring lasting peace.

Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) of Somalia who was sober in his speech appealed passionately to the international community to save Somalia from destruction saying “we have had too many problems. We cannot even count them.”

He expressed his appreciation to the AU and commended Uganda and Burundi for always being there for Somalia.

He also said President Mills’ presence at the conference showed the importance attached to the cause of Somalia by the government of Ghana.

Ambassador Boubacar Diarra, AU Special Representative to Somalia said there can be lasting peace in Somalia if the AU and the international community are able re-examine their approach.

Mohammed Mumuni, Minister for Foreign Affairs said there was the need to plan ahead as the TFG’s mandate expires on August 20, 2011.

Somalia has been without a central government and has never known peace since civil war broke out in 1991, leading to the death its President Siad Bare. The country is run by clan heads and rebel groups and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) controls only a portion of once prosperous Mogadishu, capital of Somalia.