Monday, August 29, 2011

Okudzeto, Gabby Trade ‘Blows’

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday August 29, 2011.
Deputy Minister of Information Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Danquah Institute (DI) Chief Executive, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko were at each other’s throat over the latter’s comment that those facilitating the $3billion Chinese loan are guaranteed $30milliom in the deal.

As a result, Mr. Okudzeto issued a statement demanding “an immediate substantiation or a retraction and apology from the NPP’s Gabby Okyere Darko [sic]”.

According the deputy minister, Gabby had said in an interview on Joy Fm on the eve of Thursday 25th August, 2011 that ‘some people who arranged it (the loan) will have access to $30 million when the $3billion loan is approved by Parliament”.

Mr. Okudzeto further said Gabby “impugned corruption” when he made the remarks.
However, Gabby is adamant and is not ready to retract or offer any apology for his comment.

He said “to help achieve a fuller appreciation of the issues, I wish to begin by drawing Government’s attention back to August 3, 2010, when Parliament gave approval to the $1.5 billion STX Suppliers’ Credit Facility.”

He said that the $1.5 billion facility stipulated expressly in Clause 14.2 FEES, the following: (a) The Government shall pay to the Supplier a Facility Fee of 0.75% of the Facility; (b) the Government shall pay to the Supplier a Management Fee of 0.50% of the Facility; (c) the Facility Fee and the Management Fee shall form part of the first disbursement of the Facility.”

He said the sub-paragraph of 14.3 INSURANCE PREMIUM, stated: “(a) the Government shall pay to the Supplier of the Facility for the purpose of arranging political risk insurance cover for the Facility (The Insurance Premium); (b) the Insurance Premium shall form part of the first disbursement of the Facility.

“These put the total amount of stipulated fees for that $1.5 billion transaction at $20 billion and the insurance premium at about $265 million,” adding “but, there was an important provision that the two fees shall only be paid to the supplier (STX E&C (Ghana) Ltd) at the point of first disbursement.”

On the face of the STX agreement, Gabby said the ‘arranger’ was STX, the ‘supplier’ adding “a similar provision is provided in this $3 billion credit line from China and it is surprising that my reference to it has caused such consternation within Government circles.”

The DI boss said the Government’s statement demanding an apology and retraction was generous enough to include the details of Clause 11 of Section 4 of the Master Facility Agreement (MFA) of $3 billion between the Republic of Ghana (as borrower) and the China Development Bank Corporation (as lender).

“What that paragraph states unequivocally, however, is that the fees to be paid for the arrangement, management or, whatever, for the facility add up to 1.25% of the total facility of $3 billion. It is this that translates into $37.5 million and it is this also that the agreement demands must be paid upfront even before any agreement for disbursement is concluded”, he contended.

On top of that, Gabby said every cost and expense incurred by the China Development Bank in the transaction shall be borne by Ghana saying “Clause 15 COSTS AND EXPENSES, demands of the Ghana Government, the Borrower, to promptly on demand pay to the Lender the amount of all costs and expenses (including legal fees) reasonably incurred by the Lender in connection with any Eligible Project, and the negotiation, preparation, printing and execution of: (15.1.1) this Agreement and any other documents referred to in this Agreement, up to a maximum amount agreed by the parties and approved by the Borrower’s Parliament; and (15.1.2) any other Finance Document executed after the Execution Date, including each Subsidiary Agreement.”

He said rather than Government demanding that he should be willing to name those people and give all Ghanaians the evidence, the government “should be, instead, explain to Ghanaians the purpose of those two specific fees stated in the MFA. It is instructively odd that the two fees, the ‘Up-front Fee’ of 0.25% and the ‘Commitment Fee’ of 1%, are the only material words that have not been defined in the Definitions and Interpretation Section of the MFA.”

Access denied? Ghana's Long Road To Freddom of Information

Vitus Azeem, Akoto Ampaw, O.B. Amoah and Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo have all been making inputs into the FOI Bill in Ghana.
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Story by William Yaw Owusu

Saturday August 27, 2011.
When U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama paid a historic visit to Ghana in 2009, he said that Africa needs strong institutions, and not strong leaders, to bring prosperity to people across the continent. He praised the strength of Ghana’s democratic institutions and emphasized the vital importance of good governance to sustainable development and the protection of human rights.

President Obama may have hit the nail right on the head, but the lack of free information on the continent is still a major impediment to the realization of the prosperous society the first black American President spoke about.

Democracy advocates uphold right to information laws as necessary ingredients for the promotion of good governance, transparency, and accountability. With strong provisions, an information bill can crack stonewalls around government, forcing into the public domain information about finances, procurement, business relationships, individual citizens, and internal communications or processes.

In Ghana, a right to information bill has been stalled in Parliament since 2003, when the John Agyekum Kufuor administration tabled a draft. It was reintroduced after the NDC took power under John Evans Atta Mills, but it still hasn’t been passed, a fact that puts this country behind regional neighbours like Nigeria and Liberia, and well in the rear of continental cousins like South Africa.

The delay
Since coming into office, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has made some of the right noises about passing the bill into law. Recently, a series of public input session came to a close, and they were praised by the Ghana Right to Information Coalition (GRIC).

But skeptical Ghanaians need only look to the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, which enthusiastically drafted the bill, but soon developed cold feet towards passing it into law. It seems an odd irony, given that the NPP was responsible for striking the Criminal Libel Law from national statutes.

The current government will not give a specific time in which the bill will be passed, although Deputy Majority Leader Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo is optimistic the bill will be passed before the end of 2011.

“It is possible we can wrap this up by the end of 2011,” says Pelpuo, who also sits on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications, the legislative body tasked with overseeing the drafting of the bill. “We are happy to facilitate the passage of the bill so that Ghanaians will have unfettered access to information held by government officials.”

However, Osei Bonsu Amoah popularly referred to as O.B. is not so optimistic.

The NPP MP for Aburi Nsawam is also a member of the Joint Committee. “No,” he says of Alhaji Pelpuo’s timeline. “It’s not realistic. There’s no way the bill can pass by the end of the year. Currently, we are on recess and Parliament doesn’t even resume until October, after which we will go on another break again in December.”

O.B. Amoah doubts it will make the agenda by the end of the year. Even if it did, however, it would have to be picked apart clause by clause, and if any recommendations from the public panels are included in the draft, they too will have to be debated before the bill can be amended.

“I’m sure,” says O.B. Amoah, “when it gets to the floor of the house, other amendments will have to be made, and if you combine all these factors, the bill, in my opinion, is likely to be passed by 2012, before the general election.”

Akoto Ampaw is an experienced legal practitioner and GRIC leader. Along with the others in the public sphere, he has reservations about certain aspects of the bill and wants the house to address them before it is passed.

“We have raised at least some ten or so key problems that we think ought to be reviewed with respect to the bill, and one of them of course is the timeline,” he says. “The other is the provision of an independent commission. The third has to do with the fee regime. The fourth has to do with the need for the bill to cover certain categories of private bodies that are either funded by the public purse, or are carrying out public sanctions, or are exploiting the natural resources of this country.”

Justice and the conflict of interest
An obvious conflict of interest, GRIC advocates say, is the Ministry of Justice’s involvement in implementing the bill and overseeing some of its provisions. One such function is the ministry’s jurisdiction over access to information applications. If a member of the public or media request information, the Ministry decides whether or not to release it.

“We do not think Minister of Justice should be the official to look up to when someone wants to access information,” says Mr. Ampaw. “We are asking for an independent body.

“When there is an application for review and the minister rejects the application, your only next resort is the Supreme Court. That will virtually cut out more than 90 per cent of the population who will not have the resources, the time and the courage to go to the Supreme Court. If the situation remains as it is, it will serve as a way of denying them their ability to challenge any arbitrary decision of the minister.”

Affail Monney, vice president of the GJA and of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, shares Mr. Ampaw’s views. “The GJA’s position is that the Minister of Justice is accountable to the government, who appointed him/her, and so he/she is obliged to toe the line of government, or sing the tune of the government with respect to certain provision that may appear when the law is passed,” he says. “The government will definitely not pass any law that will end up tying its hand.”

Even though O.B. Amoah supports the call for an independent body to supervise the implementation of the bill, he concedes that the Minister of Justice has the technical expertise to handle issues that may come up after the passage.

“Sometimes you have to look at technical issues,” he says. “The Ministry of Justice might be appropriate. But I think it should have a more independent institution to be able to look at it.”

But Mr. Ampaw insists that the Ministry of Justice is not structured well enough to carry out such functions.

“In the alternative, we have proposed that there should be an independent information commission like you find in other jurisdictions,” he says. “And that independent information commission will have the function of carrying our public education, of training information officers, of serving on a tribunal at which disaffected citizens can appeal in case of refusal.”

The importance of keeping good records
Mr. Ampaw also says Ghana needs to inculcate an effective record-keeping and maintenance and retrieval habit, or the right to information law will have no teeth.

“You can make an application for information,” he says, “and if the records have not been properly kept you may not be able to access the information. So the right to information bill should include in it a provision that places and obligation on all public bodies and private agencies covered by the bill to create, keep, and organize an effective and efficient system of record keeping, so as to give meaning to the right to information when citizens apply for information.”

He predicts: “If these matters are not addressed, we’ll have a right to information law which will in many respects become an obstacle to the citizens’ right to information.”

The breadth of exemption
There are several clauses in the draft that protect various corners of government from reach of the legislation. The GRIC is taking issue with these, and the NPP concurs.

“We think the exemption clauses are too many,” says Mr. Ampaw. “Many of them are too broad and are blanket exemptions which are completely contrary to the provisions of our constitution.”

O.B. Amoah shares the councilor’s concerns. He says the Office of the President is like a vault, and the legislation will not penetrate it, not even for correspondence. The Office of the Vice President has similar protections.

“I think it’s too blanket,” he says. “It is too wide. It is not everything that is confidential or security-like when it comes to correspondence or documents from the presidency. For example the Ministry of Private Sector Development is in the Office of the President. Are we saying that one cannot have access to information at the place?”

Fees and Timelines
Civil society is also crying foul over access fees and timelines. In the latter case, government can take over 150 days to respond to a request, a timeframe wide enough to render some information irrelevant. Fees as well have been underscored as too high, with civil society saying charges should come to no more than the cost of copying documents.

“The fees charged should be at the very minimum and should not be so high as to dissuade people from seeking information, fees charged should not be greater than the cost incurred in providing a copy of the information sought,” writes the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in an online critique. “The Law should also contain a provision for waiver of fees where the applicant is unable to pay the same.”

Alhaji Pelpuo is aware of all these objections. He says Parliament will debate them when the time comes.

“Every single line will be debated so that we decide on what is best for the country,” he says.

The progress of neighbours
In 2000, South Africa became the first country in Africa to adopt a freedom of information law. Two years later, Angola and Zimbabwe followed suit, with Uganda passing legislation in 2005 and Ethiopia in 2008. In 2010, Liberia led the way in West Africa, and Niger, Guinea, and Nigeria have all followed suit.

“Apart from South Africa, implementation is yet to take firm root in the rest of these countries,” writes Gilbert Sendugwa, coordinator with Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), in an email. “While the pace seems to be encouraging since the beginning of 2011, Africa has generally been too slow, as today there are over 90 countries with access to information laws around the world.”

According to Sendugwa, each country has a different back-story. For example, Zimbabwe’s legislation, passed without input from civil society, was actually designed to hamper the media, which had been critical of ZANU-PF party officials.

South Africa, on the other hand, was riding a wave of post-Apartheid constitutionalism in the years running up to the passage of its law. The Promotion of Access to Information Act built on previous legislation, reaching out to both private and government entities. The bill is often applauded in freedom of information circles because it is overseen by the South African Human Rights Commission, rather than a justice ministry, as is proposed in Ghana’s case.

In Liberia and Nigeria, civil society played an active role in drafting the laws.
“The main and important feature is establishing a right of access, time limits, oversight, reporting, appeals, sanctions for denial or falsification and protection of whistleblowers,” says Sendugwa. “The Nigeria law is particularly strong on the scope, as it narrows the extent of exemptions, has very progressive time limits of seven days with which public bodies must respond, and also reporting is very well constructed.”

Effects of FOI Legislation
Mr. Monney thinks a strong information bill could transform Ghana. Journalists, he says, would be better equipped to dig up stories on key facets of Ghana’s character, whether they be the new oil and gas industry, or older standbys like mining, cocoa, and timber.

And then there’s corruption.“The right to information legislation is a necessary tool in the fight against corruption,” says Vitus Azeem, executive secretary of Ghana Integrity Initiative, “because our civil society and the media would be empowered to investigate allegations of corruption.”

Mr. Monney agrees, noting that government currently exists in a vacuum of accountability.

“As we speak, nothing obliges officials to provide information which they’re holding on behalf of the very people they represent,” he says. “We have to support our MPs to expedite action on this bill so that we would have unfettered access to information.”

There are fears that when the bill is passed into law, it might be abused particularly, by a media critic accuse of mendacious mudslinging. Alhaji Pelpuo harbours exactly those kinds of concerns.

“I think that one is a very big problem to everybody,” he says. “That’s why I say I hope the information is used for reasons other than destroying the personal reputations of people.”

Mr. Monney is dismissive of such criticisms, saying the overall result of a repealed Criminal Libel Law is a positive one.

“Some people hold that the media can’t handle a law like this,” says Monney, “and they point to the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law and what they term as a culture of character assassination as a result. But I say that governments have become more transparent than before.

“The media are so agile. The media are so alert. The media are so robust. And the critical nature of the media is in direct relation to its freedom.”

Lack of political will?
The issue of whether or not government has the political will to pass the bill into law has received varied responses.

Mr. Ampaw says there has not been any justifiable reason given to explain why since the bill hasn’t been passed since it was first drafter in 2003.

“Whether they lack the political will or not is something for the general public to assess,” he adds.

Mr. Azeem thinks the issue of political will is just a perception.

“No politician will come out and say, ‘We don’t want to pass it because if we do it is going to tie our hands.’ But of course, these are just suspicions that because they are dilly-dallying it’s possible that that may be the reason.”

O.B. Amoah says the NPP could not pass the bill into law due to circumstances beyond their control.

“We believe the introduction of the Bill to the house is a very good step forward. It’s a bill that should make government more accountable and more transparent when it is passed.”

Sendugwa and the AFIC say countries that struggle with access to information laws usually have issues understanding the legislation, both at the public and governmental level. Concerns that such bills will expose government secrets or infringe on public privacy are common. Further, changes in government can often frustrate the process.

“Ghana has never come this close to adopting an access to information law and clearly a law would strengthen Ghana’s democratic credentials in Africa and the rest of the world,” Sendugwa says. “A major concern is that the bill has not received priority attention from both the executive and Parliament since it was tabled. In fact, there is not yet commitment that following consultations the bill will be quickly considered by parliament. Some of the clauses are troubling, but we trust that inputs from ongoing consultations will cure this problem if parliament listens to the voices of ordinary citizens.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

AMA Arrests Cripple

Agya Manso begs for alms at the Holy Spirit Cathedral traffic light in Accra

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By William Yaw Owusu
Friday July 26, 2011.
IT WAS a bizarre spectacle on August 12 at the Holy Spirit Cathedral intersection when operatives of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) bundled a cripple into a waiting pick-up van and sped off to one of the assembly’s facilities in Accra.

Peter Alex Mensah, aka Agya Manso, is a well-known New Patriotic Party (NPP) sympathizer. He is physically challenged and his wheelchair is always festooned with the party’s colours and other paraphernalia. He was accused of begging on the streets and campaigning out of political season.

Motorists who drive through the Accra’s Museum Road towards the TUC at the Holy Spirit Cathedral traffic intersection are bound to see Agya Manso begging for alms as he sits in his wheelchair with a large NPP flag almost covering him.

Motorists and pedestrians alike fix their gaze on the man when they spot him as his party flag flutters behind him on the wheelchair.

While some engage him in brief chats others just look at him and sometimes part with some coins and even notes.

He spoke exclusively to DAILY GUIDE on Wednesday at his usual spot where he begs for alms in the wheelchair and he was defiant but jocular.

“I am happy to speak to DAILY GUIDE. Let me extend my greetings to every NPP sympathizer particularly Nana Akufo-Addo, Sammy Awuku, Sir John and Aunty Maggie before I have my interview with you,” he started.

“I even thought of coming to your office to narrate my treatment at the hands of the AMA guards to you but upon second thought I decided not to come because people might not take me serious,” he continued.

Agya Manso said last Friday at about 2 pm; “AMA men wearing white and green with two pick-up trucks” stormed the traffic light where he was busily “looking for his daily bread.” They first arrested a lady cripple and seized her wheelchair before turning on him.

“I pleaded with them to leave her alone but they asked me to mount one of the vehicles which were parked at the Accra’s Museum Road bus stop towards the TUC.”

He claimed that when he told them that he could not walk, the AMA guards hoisted him into the back of the pick-up and took him to the AMA Park opposite Baiden Powell Memorial Hall.

“I was the only beggar picked up. They did not tell me why they were taking me away. When we got there, I was asked to wait for their boss and for about 30 minutes I was unattended to.”

He continued: “then their boss came and told me in Ga which was later interpreted to me by a guard that they do not want anybody to beg at the Central Business District particularly High Street.”

He said the boss ordered him to relay the message to other beggars but he told them he could not do that since he was not their leader.

Agya Manso further said the AMA guards also told him that he was being arrested because he was promoting the NPP out of the political season, adding “I did not have to hide the fact that I am an avowed NPP supporter as my flag was boldly hoisted when they arrested me.”

“I have been NPP all my life and will continue to work hard for them to come back to power. I told them it is not a crime to associate yourself with a political party of your choice so long as the party is not outlawed.”

“As for the political off season, it is untenable because I see cars with NDC flags everyday and nobody is doing anything to them so the AMA should come again.”

“If it is because of the NPP flag they arrested me then I assure them that I am going to even add four more the next time they see me.”

“When President Kufuor was there, nobody arrested beggars. We operated without any harassment. Our conditions make it difficult for us to do physical work. We live on the benevolence of Good Samaritans but the AMA guards are making things difficult this time around.”

When asked why he could not do simple petty trading for a living, Agya Manso said “I tried my best but it was very dangerous. The cars move fast in the traffic when the green light is on…You could easily get knocked down.”

When probed further over whether it was rather safe to roll his wheel chair through the traffic he replied “but I am not selling. It is only dangerous when you are chasing after your change. As for begging, the moment the green light is on you stay calm. That is what I do for a living.”

Asked how he came by the name Agya Manso (Father of litigation), he said “I hate to be cheated. I have decided never to tell a lie. That is why I am able to speak my mind freely without fear so as a result of that people think I am a litigant.”

Agya Manso is one of the new breed of Ghanaians who are prepared to use the mass media particularly radio to educate themselves. He has a ghetto blaster fixed to his wheelchair to listen to the news daily.

“You see I have my radio fixed here on my wheelchair…I listen to the news every hour to know what is going on in the country and how well the NPP is doing. With this, I do not need anybody to tell me the state of affairs in the country.”

“I pray to God that the NPP come back to power and when that happens I have strong belief that Nana Akufo-Addo can put things together for the disabled to also benefit. The NPP needs to work hard to win 2012.”

“This is the first time I have been arrested for operating as a beggar. I know that when NPP comes to power I will have my peace of mind. I know they will find something for me to do in my hometown and I may not necessarily become a beggar.”

When asked what he got from the NPP when the party was in office, Agya Manso said most of the party’s sympathizers were “very generous” and “besides, I had my peace to move to wherever I wanted.”

Agya Manso hails from Saa near Asankragua in the Western Region. He has three children. He currently lives at the slums popularly called Abuja behind the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) headquarters near the Kantamanto Railway Station in Accra.

Jubilee House is close to Nima – Sam Pee Yalley

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The controvertial presidential palace in the heart of Accra.

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday July 26, 2011.
In an attempt to rubbish the NPP’s call on President Mills to move into the nation’s presidential palace, Jubilee House, Sam Pee Yalley, a leading member of the NDC has advised the President not to live there because it is close to Nima, a suburb of Accra.

“I do not think the Jubilee House or whatever they call it should be any place that the President should live. There is even an Embassy (French) behind it, Jesus Christ…TV3 is at the corner…Nima is at the place there,” he said.

Mr. Yalley, a legal practitioner advised President Mills on Radio Gold’s ‘Alhaji and Alhaji’ programme last Saturday saying “Sir, don’t move there today or tomorrow because there could be traps.”

“I have joined some other people to say that if there is any dignifying place for the President to stay it is Peduase Lodge because there the Presidency has all that it takes including the Vice President to be there without any interruptions and if the Adenta road is constructed properly there will be no trouble at all.”

He said if President Mills moves to Peduase, it would help to link the Eastern Region and the Greater Accra by “a certain administrative structure so we can then open the place.”

He said cited traffic congestion as a primary reason why President Mills should not move to the Jubilee House, which the NDC reverted to the name, Flagstaff House.

Mr. Yalley further said the security of the presidency is paramount therefore the president should not use the facility adding “this building was built by another country…where now countries are sending spies to look at locations for certain information, you want to expose your president there…No way.”

He said the 37 Military Hospital is cited close to the facility and the radiation equipment they use could be interrupted by the installations that would be done at the Presidential palace.

“The headquarters of the Defence Ministry is even a more appropriate place for the President…it is close to the military,” he said.

Imperial Transport hits back at accuser

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By William Yaw Owusu
Friday August 26, 2011.
Imperial Transport, operators of long haul transport services to northern Ghana and other neighbouring countries, has accused Ati Kwadwo, an accident victim of peddling falsehood about the company in the media.

Ati Kwadwo was driving a KIA truck with registration GR 8074 V from Kumasi to Techiman on September 16, 2006 when his vehicle collided with Imperial Transport Marco Polo bus with registration GT 9232 W at Abofuor Forest at about 3 pm, injuring both Ati, bus driver and other passengers in the bus.

However, Ati has been moving from media house to the other alleging that the company abandoned him after the accident and only gave him GH¢200 as compensation.

But reacting to what the company terms ‘Ati Kwadwo’s falsehood’ Collins Obeng Ampadu, Operations Manager of Imperial Transport told DAILY GUIDE on Wednesday “We have spent GH¢ 2,400.00 (¢24million) on Ati Kwadwo since the unfortunate accident and cannot understand why he wants to destroy our hard earned reputation.”

He said “we gave the money for his upkeep on humanitarian grounds because our bus was also involved in the unfortunate accident.”

Mr. Ampadu showed this paper documents which he said were undertakings endorsed by Ati Kwadwo after collecting hospital fees from them on two occasions.

“He first came to us in clutches with the mother and for the second time with his sister. At first he said he needed only GH¢ 800 but we gave him GH¢ 1,400.00. We later gave him additional GH¢ 1,000.00 making a total of GH¢ 2, 400.00”.

According to Mr. Ampadu, the accident occurred because the bus driver at a point felt there was a roadblock which is normally used by highway robbers to perpetrate crime and in the process he collided with the victim’s KIA truck.”

He said in the process the bus had to be towed to Accra for repairs, stressing that he cannot understand why Ati is peddling falsehood that the bus driver abandoned him and sped off.

“The driver was also severely injured and had to be hospitalized for some time. He could not have driven the bus in that state and the Abofuor police are aware,” Mr. Ampadu said.

“He goes about claiming it was a Yutong bus which was involved in the accident when he knows very well that as at 2006 Imperial Transport was not using Yutong buses. The fact is that the bus which collided with his KIA truck was Marco Polo and cannot be Yutong as he wants the whole world to believe.”

“We were helping him on humanitarian grounds but he seems not to appreciate our efforts. We want him to speak the truth all the time.”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

STX Talks Deadlock

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday August 25, 2011.
There are conflicting reports as to what transpired on Tuesday at the meeting between feuding partners of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited and Ghana government officials.

The meeting was organised at the instance of the government through the Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing with the Works and Housing Committee of Parliament in attendance, to find amicable solution to the raging impasse that has stalled the construction of 200,000 housing units in the country, starting with 30,000 houses for the security services.

According to sources government officials met the feuding partners separately on Tuesday even though a presidential committee set up with Vice President John Mahama as the chairman had met the partners together on June 1, 2011 and June 7, 2011 to look into the impasse.

Contrary to claims by David Tetteh-Assumeng, NDC MP who chairs the Works and Housing Committee of Parliament that the Ghanaians and Koreans were going to work together on the housing project, the Koreans were said to have insisted that they could only proceed with the project if their decision to fire B.K. Asamoah was respected by the government.

Additionally, the government was said to have expressed worry about the imminent court case between the feuding partners which is most likely to further delay the commencement of the project but the Koreans were not prepared to withdraw the case, because of simple reason that B.K. Asamoah has taken them for a ride.

But Mr. Tetteh-Assumeng, who is the MP for Shai Osudoku, insisted that the initial construction of 30,000 housing units for the security services would be realized and said there should be “no cause for alarm” because the “partnership is not over”.

“I am very, very confident, and I want to assure the people of this country that we are all confident and we are making sure that the project succeeds and it will succeed by the grace of God.”

But the Koreans also insist that “with the legal tussle, we cannot access finance on the international market. We have agreed to find amicable solutions to the problem but have also respectfully indicated to them that we cannot go on with the project with B.K.”

The source said the officials appreciated the Korean’s difficulty in securing funding for the project without the sovereign guarantee and also admitted that Mr. Asamoah was wrong in calling the police to the company’s premises at the Airport Residential Area when the resolution was made to remove the CEO.

According to the source, when the Koreans raised the issue of the sovereign guarantee, the government officials gave a veiled explanation that it had to be handed over to Mr. Asamoah because he was the CEO.

“STX Korea is not abandoning the project. We are committed to the terms of the agreement and respect everything we are doing with the government of Ghana,” the source added.

At the meeting with the Vice President, both parties were said to have outlined their reasons for taking certain decisions that led to delays in starting the project and the Housing Minister, Alban Bagbin who had taken over the chairmanship from the Vice President advised the parties to remain calm because they were not there to apportion blame but to find solutions.

Nana Akomea, NPP MP for Okaikoi South and NPP Director Communications has said that the contract should be abrogated with immediate effect because the agreement has been abused.

He said “parliament endorsed the agreement on two key conditions. The first was that the Koreans were to provide the expertise and the second was that the money was supposed to come from an intra fund in Korea…but current events have shown that these have not been done.”

“If they seek new partners then the contract should be abrogated because the agreement was signed in the name of STX Korea.”

He advised the government to use Ghanaian expertise and involve the Ghana Real Estate Development Association (GREDA) for the project.

The STX partners have been struggling to raise money for the multi-billion dollars project.

The sovereign guarantee, signed by Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor on April 27, 2011, has already been going round several countries in search for cash to start the project.

The sovereign guarantee has travelled to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States and Mexico in search of cash.

It has lately been sighted in Nigeria where it has been moving from one bank to the other for money.

Copies of the documents to that effect have allegedly been distributed by B.K. Asamoah, the embattled Chief Executive of STX, who is knocking on doors of banks for cash.

The Sovereign Guarantee, with reference number DMD/MWRWH/STX E&C/SG/2011, was issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and has Instrument Number MOFEP-SG/ MWRWH-STX/2011/001.

The document states that the maturity date for the guarantee is twenty years and six months with the principal amount as $1,525,443,468 ($1.52billion).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Murdered Man’s Family appeals to Mills, Mahama

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday August 24, 2011.
THE FAMILY of Nii Kwatei Quartey, the 61-year old man who was killed by assailants at Tema Community 9 on July 17, 2007, has accused the police administration of deliberately delaying the prosecution of suspects arrested for their involvement in the crime.

They have made a passionate appeal to President Mills and his vice John Mahama to “save the situation” by ordering the police to arraign the suspects before court for justice to prevail.

Briefing DAILY GUIDE in Accra on Friday, family members who wished to remain anonymous claimed to be living in fear. They said the police have constantly frustrated their efforts to seek justice by not facilitating the processes that would lead to the suspects’ prosecution.

They alleged that some of the suspects arrested by the police and later released were sighted escaping to join a parked taxi moments after Nii Kwatei Quartey was shot in what was then described as a contract killing.

They said another suspect had threatened to shoot the deceased over a protracted dispute concerning some Naa Mansah lands at Adenkrebi near Brekuso after the deceased as family head, won the case in court.

“Despite all this overwhelming evidence the police has failed to put the people before court for trial,” they said adding that the suspects “have been going about threatening and intimidating anybody who they think can be a potential witness in the case and selling lands indiscriminately in the village.”

Those picked up by the police at one point or the other following the crime were Nana Addo Kwaku (Brekuso Odumasehene), Ashia Nyarko (now deceased) of Brekuso, Djan Torto of Kweiman, Tsei Suttah of Teiman, Francis Okai Suttah of Tema, Addo Adjei of Adenkrebi, Mensah Suttah, Jerry Suttah, Samuel Suttah and Kuuku of Brekuso.

According to the family of the deceased, all the suspects were granted police enquiry bail and that was all they knew about the case.

They noted that the Attorney-Generals’ Department had already recommended the prosecution of the suspects but the police have allegedly failed to send them to court.

“There are people who could help the prosecution to unravel the mystery surrounding our brother’s death four years ago. His wife and brother-in-law were at home when the incident happened but the police has never asked them to assist in the investigation.”

They also complained about the activities of gangsters and land guards at Adenkrebi saying “there are too many guns in the village and the security agencies must be able to do something about it.”

“The suspects are back on the streets. The police say they are on enquiry bail. We have no one to go to but we believe President Mills and Mr. Mahama will come to our aid and let justice prevail. Nobody is telling us when the case will go to court. We continue to live in fear,” they said.

STX For Sale

B.K. Asamoah is credited for introducing STX to the government.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday August 24, 2011.
DAILY GUIDE investigations have revealed that the sovereign guarantee, signed by Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor on April 27, 2011, has already been going round several countries in search for cash to start the project.

The countries the money is being sought from include the United Kingdom and Switzerland, the USA and Mexico. It has lately been sighted in Nigeria where it has been moving from one bank to the other in search a new lease of life.

Copies of documents to that effect have allegedly been distributed by B.K. Asamoah, the embattled Chief Executive of STX, who is knocking on doors of banks in search of cash.

The Sovereign Guarantee, with reference number DMD/MWRWH/STX E&C/SG/2011, was issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and has Instrument Number MOFEP-SG/ MWRWH-STX/2011/001.

The document states that the maturity date for the guarantee is twenty years and six months with the principal amount as $1,525,443,468 ($1.52billion).

According to the Sovereign Guarantee, STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited is the beneficiary and Barclays Bank Ghana Limited as the beneficiary bank.

The account number is 0641141895 with BARCGHAC as the swift code and Benjamin Dabrah, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana Limited, Barclays House High Street Box 2949, Accra as the bank officer.

“We, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (Issuer), acting on behalf of the Republic of Ghana, hereby issue this irrevocable SOVERIEIGN GUARANTEE in favour of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited (beneficiary) as a security for the suppliers credit agreement dated December 24, 2010 between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (borrower) and STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited (lender), with an amount of US$ 1,525,443,468 plus any interest and fees accrued.”

It further said “this sovereign guarantee shall be irrevocable, divisible, assignable and transferable with notification to the issuer and is an unconditional undertaking to pay to the order of the beneficiary, any amount lawfully due in line with credit agreement and any amendment thereof.”

It said all amounts due and payable by the borrower in respect of the credit agreement would be serviced through the government of Ghana Loan Principal Repayment Account.

“This sovereign guarantee is subject to the Uniform Customs Practice for Documentary Credit, International Chamber of Commerce Paris France latest Revision.”

It concluded “this is an operative instrument and does not require further confirmation, valid upon issuance until all payments obligation under the credit agreement are honoured by the borrower or upon the expiration whichever comes first. This sovereign guarantee expires on June 13, 2031.”

STX deal has been saddled with one crisis upon another crisis.

The NDC majority caucus in parliament yesterday met with the Koreans and their estranged partner, B.K. Asamoah, at the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to broker peace.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that nothing could come out of the meeting as the two sides appeared to have irreconcilable differences.

A leading member of the NDC and Member of Parliament for Adenta, Kojo Adu Asare, has already asked the Mills administration to abrogate the STX Housing deal to avoid further embarrassment ahead of the 2012 general elections.

Mr. Asare believes enough is enough. He said six months after the president cut the sod for the commencement of the project at the Police Training School at Tesano, nothing had been done to bring it into fruition.

He said the situation “is enough embarrassment to the President and to all of us as a party.”

Even though government has already signed an agreement with the Koreans for the construction of 30,000 housing units for the security agencies at the cost of $1.5billion as the first phase of the project, the Koreans have since been crying foul over the government’s decision to hand over the sovereign guarantee to Mr. Asamoah.

STX Korea is supposed to lead the funding drive in Korea as contained in the agreement but they claimed they were bypassed. “We (Koreans) got to read about the sovereign guarantee in the newspapers. We have the suspicion that they want to make us irrelevant in the whole deal,” an STX Korea source complained to DAILY GUIDE recently.

Apart from alleging that their Ghanaian counterparts were working to make them irrelevant in the deal, the Koreans have given indications that there could be possible leads to corruption in the way the procurement is being done.

Daily Guide investigations revealed that the Koreans raised serious objections to Mr. Asamoah’s alleged decision to procure building materials from Western Forms in the United States which they claimed could last for 30 years when under the agreement the project’s lifespan was only five years.

Additionally, the consulting architectural concept design allegedly being prepared by a Professor at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) will cost the company about $21million when the Koreans insist they could do it for only $5million.

According to them, whenever the issue of cost was raised, the employer (Government of Ghana) did not find any fault with it. There has also not been any indication or proof of funding for the project.

One striking notice about the whole deal is that President Mills cut a sod for the commencement of the project on January 27, 2011 four clear months before the Sovereign Guarantee was even issued to B. K. Asamoah to shop for funding.
Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu has already served notice to the government to bring back the whole deal to Parliament for further scrutiny.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a deputy Minister of Information has acknowledged that: “The government would certainly have a big hole to plug if this STX deal does not go through and… cabinet certainly need to meet again and take another decision on how to plug this hole; that is if this STX deal does not come to light.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Peeved! Greater Accra NPP Communication Team from L to R: Francis Ebo Mensah, Michael Ampong, Saaka Salia and Nii Ayitey Conica at the news conference.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday August 23, 2011.
The Greater Accra New Patriotic Party (NPP) says the statement by President John Evans Atta Mills that he is going to hand over peacefully in 2017 is an indication that he has predetermined the 2012 general election results.

“Do you remember his ‘I have won the contest already’ statement when the ruling NDC was preparing for the Sunyani Congress? Look at what happened there…they used manipulations, vote buying and intimidation to get the verdict for him and he wants to do the same thing in 2012 but we will resist it this time around with all out might.”

Reacting to the President’s comment at a news conference in Accra yesterday, Micheal Ampong of the Greater Accra NPP Communication Directorate said the opposition parties particularly the NPP would never allow President Mills and his NDC to intimidate them and go ahead to rig the 2012 contest.

He said the President’s statement smacks of lawlessness since it was an attempt to disregard constitutional provisions and laws regarding the conduct of election saying “it is illegal to talk about 2017 when the President’s mandate is up to 2012.”

“On the platform where the President made the comment, he was very concerned about the maintenance of law and order in the country yet he ended up making statement that has the tendency to unleash lawlessness and indiscipline on the political landscape.”

Mr. Ampong accused the NDC of reneging on their campaign promises and also worsening the economic conditions of the people saying “if the President and his government do not have any hidden agenda how can he say he will hand over in 2017 when he has not even crossed the 2012 hurdle which I am very certain the NDC cannot cross with this performance.”

He said the only clear policies that the NDC government has been able to articulate are the perennial gas shortages and the surge in homosexuality in the country adding “there is unprecedented systemic and institutional failures all over and it is evident in the way the NDC has handled the District Assemblies Elections, National Identification exercise and recent by-election since they came into office.”

Mr. Ampong further said “we found the President’s statement misguided non committal and above all pregnant with varying degree of interpretations,” adding “by critically analyzing this statement we arrived at one conclusive verdict that the statement was unfortunate, ill conceived, affront to the constitution, and open disrespect for the electorate of Ghana and the political parties which has the potential of causing rage.”

“We call on the international community and our development partners, including ECOWAS, AU, EU, UN as well as Civil Society Organization, Religious Leaders and all well meaning Ghanaians to prevail on President Mills and the NDC to break or divert their strain of thought of rigging the 2012 election for us to avoid the unthinkable in 2012.”

He also urged the EC, NCCE and the Security Agencies “to continue to remain as professional and dispassionate as possible in the discharge of their duties,” and added that “for being disrespectful to the Ghanaian electorate by impugning the 2012 election as a done deal, in the phase of monumental failure, the president should retract the statement and apologize to the people of Ghana without delay”

Saaka Salia, another member of the regional communication team said anytime a government functionary makes public statement and was asked to substantiate, that same person comes back to say it was a joke saying “they are always playing with the intelligence of Ghanaians and I hope they don’t come back to tell us that the President’s statement is a joke.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

STX Cheques Bounced

The headquarters of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited in Accra.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday August 22, 2011.
It has emerged that the embattled Chief Executive Officer of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited, Bernard Kwabena Asamoah allegedly issued dishonoured cheques to a private company that he transacted business with in Accra on behalf of his company.

Documents cited by DAILY GUIDE shows that seven different cheques issued by Mr. Asamoah to Rana Motors and Metal Works Engineering Company Limited for the purchase of a vehicle were all dishonoured at the HFC Bank.

As a result, Rana Motors, dealers of Korean made Kia cars has issued a stern warning to STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited to make immediate payments or they will resort to court action soon to redeem the debt totaling $36, 516.69.

A letter signed on August 19, 2011 by Chairman of Rana Motors and Metal Works Engineering Company Limited, M.A. Odaymat and addressed to B.K. Asamoah said “we wish to draw your attention once again that the under-listed post-dated HFC Bank Ghana Ltd. Cheques you issued to our company have all been dishonoured on presentation to the bank.”

According to the letter with reference number RM/MAO/CDK, the cheques which were $5, 216.67 each were issued between January and July 2011 on different dates.

The cheques were 653026 (January 31), 653027 (February 28) 653028 (March 31), 653029 (April 30), 653030 (May 31), 653031 (June 30) and 653032 (July 31).

The letter warned “we demand immediate payment of the total sum involved otherwise you will leave us with no alternative than to take action as deemed necessary against you,” adding “we hope you will not push us to this extent.”

The STX housing deal is virtually on the brink of collapse as the Koreans and their Ghanaian partners are on each others throat over boardroom disagreement.

The boardroom wrangling which has taken a better part of the deal since Ghana government committed itself into the agreement with STX Korea to build 200,000 housing units in the country took a nasty turn last Thursday when the Koreans said they have sacked Mr. Asamoah, , as the chief executive officer of the company.

Mr. Asamoah, credited for introducing the STX deal to the government however fought back barely 24 hours later, insisting the decision was null and void.

A press release issued in Accra and signed by B.K. Asamoah himself had said “any actions taken by STX Construction (Korea) or its agents in respect of the operations of STX Engineering and Construction Limited are of no consequence.”

He said the Koreans had ceased to be part of the hosing project since May.

A day earlier, STX Korea had issued a statement saying “Furthermore, please be informed that two criminal complaints and two civil lawsuits have been filed against B.K. Asamoah.”

Im-Dong Park, CEO and executive chairman of the company who signed the statement said “on August 18, 2011, the Board of STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited has approved a resolution to remove Mr. B.K. Asamoah from the office of the Chief Executive Officer and Mr. George Padi from the office of the Deputy Chief Financial Officer.”

The release said that the company “hereby notifies the public that Mr. B.K. Asamoah and Mr. George Padi do not have any rights to represent STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited in any action contract or agreement.

“Therefore, any commitment, contract and/or agreement made by Mr. B.K Asamoah are void and invalid”, it said.

The already controversial deal has sparked another round of heated debate with Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei-Kyei-Mensah Bonsu entering the fray once again to say that the Minority was likely not to have anything to do with the current deal anymore.

He told Citi FM on Friday that the current STX boardroom impasse is an indication that the deal has collapsed and suggested that it must be quickly abrogated to save the government and the country from any further embarrassment.

He said once the partnership deal appears to have broken down, it has to be brought to parliament for another scrutiny.

“Without STX Korea there cannot be STX Ghana. What it means is that the agreement that was approved by parliament can no longer stand because it came with two parties as the partners to engage in the construction of the facility.”

However, Mr. Asamoah was of a different view and made it clear on Joy FM that the project was given to STX Ghana and not the Koreans and therefore cannot go back to parliament for scrutiny.

He said the Koreans have failed to live up to expectation and therefore STX Ghana has secured a partnership deal with Western Forms, a company from America who are to provide expertise with Mexican technology and also involve local contractors.

3 Pro-NDC Newspapers Sued

Freddy Blay, a former MP in Ghana is owner of Western Publications Ghana Ltd, publisher of Daily Guide.

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By William Yaw OwusuMonday August 22, 2011.
Godfred Yeboah Dame of Kwakwaduam Chambers has filed three separate suits on behalf of Freddie W. A. Blay and Western Publications Limited, publishers of four newspapers including DAILY GUIDE a private daily newspaper, against three pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) newspapers, their editors and assigns for libel.

The first suit cites Kobby Fiagbe, Managing Editor of The Ghanaian Lens newspaper and Alfred Kojo Triddles and Albert Kojo Yeboah, spokespersons of an amorphous group which style itself as the NDC Media Analyst Group as the first, second and third defendants respectively.

The second suit cites Candrew Ventures publisher of The Informer newspaper and Andy Kankam Editor-in-Chief of The Informer as the first and second defendants while the third suit cites Prime Mark Company Limited, publisher of the The Herald as the first defendant.

The second, third and fourth defendants are: Larry-Alans Dogbey, Sedi Bansah and Abdul Razak Bawa, Managing Editor, Editor and author of the said libelous article respectively.

In the case of The Ghanaian Lens, the first plaintiff who is immediate past first Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for 12 years is seeking relief of Three Million Ghana Cedis (GH¢3,000,000) damages for libel contained in two publications of Thursday August 4, 2011 with issue No 146 in the paper by the defendants.

The plaintiffs said the two publications were headlined: “Sodomy @ Daily Guide-Freddy Blay in Hot Waters As his lies catches up with him!!!” and another headline “Freddy Blay must not get away with Sodomy at Daily Guide.”

Other reliefs sought by the plaintiff are “an apology for and retraction of the words complained of, particularized in paragraphs 7 and 9 of the statement of claim” and another relief in the form “perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agent or from repeating similar or other libelous words against the plaintiff.”

In the case of The Informer, the plaintiffs are seeking relief totaling Three Million Ghana Cedis (GH¢3,000,000.00) damages for libel contained in the Wednesday August 3, 2011 to Thursday August 4, 2011 issue No of the paper by the defendants.

The plaintiffs said publication by the defendants was headlined: “Ellembelle Mugabe Opens Sodomy Academy @ Daily Guide…Nephew on the run after receiving best student award for sodomising infant.”

The other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs from the court are “an apology for and retraction of the words complained of, particularized in paragraph 7 of the statement of claim” and another relief of a “perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agent or from repeating similar or other libelous words against the plaintiffs.”

In the third suit, the plaintiffs are seeking reliefs of “General damages including aggravated and/or exemplary damages for defamation for libel contained in the Friday 5th August to Sunday 7th August, 2011 edition of ‘The Herald’, Edition 55/11.”

According to the plaintiffs publication by the defendants was captioned: “Daily Guide Sodomy Cover Up Exposed – As Victim’s Grandmother Tells The Full Story.”

The other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are “an apology for and retraction of the words complained of particularized in paragraph 7 of the statement of claim” and another relief in the form “perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agent or from repeating similar or other libelous words against the plaintiffs.”

In all the writ of summons the plaintiffs averred “the trial will so prove that, the words complained of were maliciously published of them and were particularly aimed at creating disaffection for them and destroying the reputation of Western Publications Limited as the leading private newspaper in Ghana.”

“Further, the publications in question are a grand conspiracy by the defendants herein and formed part of systematic efforts to discredit Mr. Freddy Blay and, to ruin his enormous political stature in the country,” the statement of claim said.

The said plaintiffs averred that in seeking aggravated damages they will contend that Kobby Fiagbe, Alfred Kojo Triddles and Albert Kojo Yeboah on one hand, Andy Kankam on the other as well as Larry-Alans Dogbe, Sedi Bansah and Abdul Razak Bawa in their respective publications “were actuated by malice, in that they knew the words complained of were false and defendants particularly did so, with the view to boosting sales and thereby increasing their profit.”

According to the plaintiffs, the said Ohene who is alleged to have sodomized a young boy is neither a nephew of the 1st plaintiff nor staff of the 2nd plaintiff.
As at the time of going to press, all the defendants in the three suits had been duly served with their respective writ of summons.

Sacked STX Boss Fights Back

Mr. B.K. Asamoah says the baordroom decision is null and void.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday July 20, 2011
The beleaguered CEO of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited, Bernard Kwabena Asamoah is fighting back barely 24 hours after the company’s board of directors said they have dismissed him as the chief executive officer.
B.K. Asamoah said the Koreans were not in a position to fire him because they had exited from the company long ago.

The board room wrangling which has taken a better part of the deal since Ghana government committed itself into the agreement with STX Korea to build 200,000 housing units in the country took a nasty turn on Thursday when the Koreans sacked B.K. Asamoah as the front man for the company was dismissed but he insists the decision is null and void.

A press release issued in Accra and signed by Mr Asamoah said “any actions taken by STX Construction (Korea) or its agents in respect of the operations of STX Engineering and Construction Limited are of no consequence.”

According to Mr. Asamoah, site works for the Affordable Housing Scheme under The Ghana National Housing Programme commenced as promised in July 2011 under the direction of STX Engineering and Construction Limited and with the support of the Government of Ghana.

“It is important to note that funding arrangements for the execution have been secured by management in addition to US technology that will ensure rapid and effective implementation within the terms approved by Parliament”, he said.

The CEO said “regarding media stories about STX Engineering and Construction Limited yesterday in which employees of our former partners STX Construction (Korea) yesterday (Thursday) reportedly announced Board resolutions in respect of STX Engineering and Construction Limited, the management of STX Engineering and Construction Limited wishes to state that “STX Construction (Korea) is no longer an equity partner in STX Engineering and Construction Limited which STX Construction (Korea) exited in May 2011.”

“STX Construction (Korea) therefore has no locus in STX Engineering and Construction Limited and consequently, no basis for any actions in respect of STX Engineering and Construction Limited adding “these facts can be verified via the public records of the Registrar General’s Department.”

Mr. Asamoah said “the management wishes to apologise to all the project stakeholders for the unruly conduct of STX Construction (Korea) in disregard or the advice offered by the Government and to thank The Minister, Water Resources, Works and Housing and His Excellency, The President of the Republic who have graciously and unreservedly supported STX Engineering and Construction Limited.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

STX Coffin Nailed…CEO Sacked

Pictures: 1. The notice terminating BK Asamoah's appointment. 2.The plush STX Office at the Airport Residential Area in Accra. 3.BK Asamoah with some policemen at the premises.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday August 19, 2011.
The hope of the Korean-based STX Engineering & Construction through its local affiliate, STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited to build 200,000 housing units in the country is becoming slimmer with the latest report of the dismissal of its chief executive officer, Bernard Kwabena Asamoah.

The board room wrangling which has taken a better part of the deal since Ghana government committed itself into the agreement took a nasty turn yesterday when the Koreans sacked B.K. Asamoah as the front man for the company.

A statement issued by the company read, “Furthermore,” read a statement issued by the company, “please be informed that two criminal complaints and two civil lawsuits have been filed against B.K. Asamoah.”

Im-Dong Park, CEO and executive chairman of the company who signed the statement said “on August 18, 2011, the Board of STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited has approved a resolution to remove Mr. B.K. Asamoah from the office of the Chief Executive Officer and Mr. George Padi from the office of the Deputy Chief Financial Officer.”

The release said further that the company “hereby notifies the public that Mr. B.K. Asamoah and Mr. George Padi do not have any rights to represent STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited in any action contract or agreement.

“Therefore, any commitment, contract and/or agreement made by Mr. B.K Asamoah and Mr. George Padi are void and invalid,” it stressed.

President Atta Mills had probably predicted the demise of the company when during his state of the nation address last year said the Vice President who has been at the frontline for the project had travelled to Korea to ‘nail the coffin’ of STX.

Ever since, it has been one crisis upon another crisis, including the botched visit of the Korean President to Ghana to see the commencement of the multi-billion dollar project. The initial signing of the documents also suffered a set back when at last minute the signing ceremony was called off with no reasons offered.

Daily Guide visited the company’s Airport Residential Area premises yesterday evening when news broke that police had surrounded the place and upon arrival a police vehicle (GP 2524) with four officers (two in plain-clothes and two wielding weapons) were cited on the compound.

When Daily Guide entered the premises after going through security checks, the police vehicle quickly sped off.

Daily Guide then offered to speak to the beleaguered CEO, B.K. Asamoah who was said to be “upstairs” but the messenger (security man) returned with response that he had decline any interview.

Daniel Jung who is the Chief Finance Officer of the company said the police entered the premises without any warrant and asked him to accompany them (police) to the police station.

“I first asked for their warrant and told them that I needed to come along with my lawyer. They then left without arresting anybody.”

At the entrance of the company, a notice from the Board of STX which read” “On August 18, 2011, the Board of STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited has approved a resolution to remove Mr. B.K. Asamoah from the office of the Chief Executive Officer and Mr. George Padi from the office of the Deputy Chief Financial Officer. They are not working in this office any longer,” had been posted there.

Until this decision was taken by the company, it had emerged that there is deep mistrust between the parent company, STX Korea and their Ghanaian counterparts who have entered into a joint partnership to form STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited for the much-touted housing project first for the security services and the general public.

Government has already signed $1.5billion agreement with STX for 30,000 housing units for the security services.

But following the boardroom wrangling, the project has stalled ever since President Mills cut the sod on January 27, 2011 at the Tesano Police Training Depot for the commencement of the construction work.

The relationship between the two entities became frosty immediately the government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning allegedly handed over the Sovereign Guarantee to B.K. Asamoah, who is credited for introducing the controversial deal to the NDC government.

The Koreans have cried foul over the government’s decision, claiming they were not consulted before the sovereign guarantee was handed to their former CEO insisting “we (Koreans) got to read about the sovereign guarantee in the newspapers”.

Both the Koreans and their Ghanaian counterparts have for sometime remained tight lipped on the raging issue.

“We have tried our best to get to President Mills directly for him to know what is happening but to no avail. Anytime we make the effort they tell us to deal with the Vice President instead,” an STX source told Daily Guide.

“We realize that our message to the President is being truncated at the middle level that is why we are trying to reach him directly but our attempts have failed so far because we are always told to discuss issues with his deputies.”

The source said “we are even arranging for STX Chairman worldwide to meet Mills one-on-one but to no avail.”

Since the relationship between the partners became frosty, the Koreans have maintained that the arrangement of providing the housing units can only continue if Mr. Asamoah was kicked out of the deal. Anything less will see them packing out of the country.

However, the removal of Mr. B.K. Asamoah is going to complicate matters considering the fact that he is the key person with links in government.

Recently, Mr. B.K. Asamoah was quoted in the state-owned Daily Graphic as saying that the project had not encountered any problems and promised that it will be executed within the scheduled period even though it is about eight months behind schedule.

He told the paper that there were no problems with funding as speculated and said the funding had already been secured. “We are not raising the money to keep in the government’s consolidated fund. We are raising the money to finance a project and at every phase money would be released,” he said.

STX Korea is supposed to lead the funding drive in Korea as contained in the agreement.

The issue of how much shares a partner of STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited owns has already compelled the STX Construction Company Limited, Korea, the parent company, to initiate legal action at an Accra Fast Track High Court against six respondents including Mr. B.K. Asamoah.

The suit which was filed on July 26, 2011 cites G.K. Airports Company Limited; Joseph Bardolph Asafo-Boakye, a Director of STX Ghana, George Padi, Registrar-General as well as STX Engineering & Construction Company Ghana Limited as the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th respondents with B.K. Asamoah as the 2nd respondent.

Even though Mr. B.K. Asamoah has indicated that the company is preparing the project sites including Kwabenya, Burma Camp and Tesano, all in Accra for the take-off, the Koreans by this release have clearly distanced themselves from it.

Daily Guide investigations revealed that the Koreans raised serious objection against Mr. Asamoah’s alleged decision to procure building materials from the United States which they claim could last for 30 years when under the agreement the project’s lifespan is only years five years.

Additionally, the consulting architectural concept design allegedly being prepared by a Professor at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) will cost the company about $21million when the Koreans insist they could do it for only $5million.

According to the source whenever the issue of cost was raised the employer (Government of Ghana) did not find any fault about it. Furthermore, there has not been any indication or proof of funding for the project.

Currently according to the source, about 95 per cent of Korean staff who were brought into the country to start the project are said to have left while most of the Ghana staff has been told to go home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Listening Tour Is Vital – Says Nana Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a flag-bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP)in Ghana.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday August 17, 2011.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, flag-bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), has been sharing his experience after embarking on what he has dubbed a ‘Listening Tour’ to know the needs of the electorate as he prepares for the 2012 presidential election.

According to Nana Akufo-Addo, interacting with ordinary Ghanaians on the tour was further positioning him properly to be able to respond appropriately to the development needs of the country if he is elected as president of the republic.

Making a rare appearance on ‘Caucus’ on Multi TV on Monday, the former Foreign Affairs Minister said, “I am very surprised to hear my critics question my decision to go on tour.

These are the same people who claim to have a patent on door-to-door and house-to-house campaigning and who claim to have invented it as a form of political campaigning.

“More seriously, I think political leaders, those who aspire to hold high office are expected to be in constant interaction with those who they want to serve and lead. It must be a good thing because at any one stage, they are situated in reality.”

He said constant interaction with the people helps to “know what the problems are out there and then from the perspective from which they have come to office to address those problems. I think what I am doing is really important”.

Nana Akufo-Addo noted that he found his contact with the people “very invigorating”, adding, “There are very important intelligent people, very compassionate, kind, caring people with a tremendous sense of humour.”

He said, “Even in the most difficult circumstances, there is always the way that they can come at you with something that allows you to laugh and release the tension. I am certainly enjoying this one a great deal”.

Nana Akufo-Addo, who was also the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice under the NPP administration, said his political opponents were engaged in what he called “absurd attempts to demonize” him, adding, “I suppose part of their worry is that going out and showing yourself to the good people as you are is doing away with a lot of the perceptions and perhaps that may not serve their propaganda purposes so well in the future.

“During my listening campaign, there was this woman who walked up to me and shook my hands and said she was surprised I shook her, considering the things she had heard about me. Apparently, she was told I only shook people when I wore gloves; and I thought that was absurd.”

He said throughout his ‘Listening Tour’, “All kinds of things and many things are the things you can anticipate. There are some fundamental things that seem to run through places that I have been visiting.”

He said three pressing issues complained about mostly were the quality of road networks in the country, lack of job opportunities particularly for the youth and the standard of education in the country.

“The cry for good roads is almost universal. Village after village, wherever you go, young people are around having nothing to do. We must let Ghanaians recognize what education in terms of transforming their lives.”

‘Caucus’ is a programme designed by Multi TV, a cable television, to afford political parties a one-stop campaign platform to inform, educate and present their political agenda and manifesto to a captive audience, in an ongoing dialogue with voters.

‘Caucus’ also offers the parties a unique opportunity to review the most pertinent political issues and activities undertaken during the week under their respective ambits. It is shown every Monday to Friday at 6:30pm.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Media bashed for abusing freedom

John Agyekum Kufuor is a former President of the Republic of Ghana.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday August 11, 2011.
Hate speech, use of intemperate language, insults, fabrications, character assassination among others in the media were common concerns raised by dignitaries at a dinner organized to mark the tenth anniversary of the repeal of the infamous Criminal Libel Law in Ghana.

Speaker upon speaker including former President John Agyekum Kufuor expressed worry that if the menace was not checked immediately it could plunge the country into civil conflict while some even went ahead to warn that should media practitioners persist in the act, there would be a time when the public would want certain media freedoms to be curtailed.

On Friday July 27, 2001, Parliament unanimously repealed the Criminal Libel Law by amending Sections 112-119 on the Criminal Libel and Section 183-185 on Seditious Libel of the criminal Code Act 29 of 1960 and on August 9, 2001, then President John Agyekum Kufuor assented to the passage.

A memorandum on the bill presented to the House by then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, stated, "The purpose of the bill is to fulfill the promise of repeal, and thereby demonstrate the Kufour government's determination to make good its promise to the nation".

On Wednesday night at the plush Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), defending and promoting media rights, organized a dinner to mark decade of advocacy for press freedom and freedom of expression under the theme “A celebration of freedom of expression: Marking the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law”

The event attracted top-notch media practitioners, human rights activist and politician including Vice President John Dramani Mahama, former President Kufuor, NMC Chairman Kabral Blay Amihere, NPP flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo among others.

President Kufuor as the Guest of Honour did not hide his admiration for the effort put in by his government to get the law which he described as “inimical to democracy” repealed. However, he expressed grave concern about the conduct of some journalists in the country.

He said the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law was not a license for media practitioners to become irresponsible adding “If you should think because you have the power of the pen that you become higher than the constitution that acknowledged you and the laws that gave you the freedom to express yourself, then I say you are mistaken,” he said.

"Since 2000, when the law was passed, our country has been put on a pedestal that compares favourably with even first-world countries. With the speed at which the world is moving, no one person would be able to advocate the causes that media, as organized as you are, would be able to advocate and so we need you.

“But every media house or broadcasting company must have a code of ethics and regulatory system to ensure that the practitioners exercise their freedom of expression with a high sense of responsibility”.

Vice President, John Mahama who was chaired the function also expressed similar worry over the level of indiscipline and intolerance creeping into the profession of journalism and said the trend is undermining the peace of the country.

He said “the way to go is not to go back to criminalizing speech, it is to promote self-regulation. It is important for players in the media landscape to enforce ethics, advocating fairness, truth and accuracy”.

He advocated improved training programmes for journalists to enable them to operate professionally saying, “You need to qualify to practice as a lawyer or a doctor and without a certificate; you could end up in jail. With journalism, you may not need any form of training and honestly, some of the best journalists are not even properly trained. Such skill would even be better if journalists were properly trained thus training is very essential.”

Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere who gave a very moving speech, tracing the history of the media’s role in national development cautioned that the public will soon turn against the media if it does not deal with unethical journalism and corruption as well take steps to mend their ways.

“Ghana’s democracy is quiet better because we have a vibrant press but the actions of journalists can bring down this nation. We have a false belief that the media is free but I say that by our transgressions it will give the authorities opportunity to clamp down on the media,” he said.

Ernest Abotsi, a Law Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology (KNUST) said even though the Criminal Libel Law has been repealed there were still “a lot of traps” in the existing causing fear and panic law.

Ransford Tetteh, President of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) said the current media landscape cannot be solely attributed to the repeal of the law that criminalized free speech but rather the vibrant nature of the 1992 Constitution helped in the expansion of the frontiers of press freedom.

Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Secretary of MFWA appealed to the President through the Vice President to consider a review of Section 208 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29, to remove those sections that make certain media publications a criminal offence.

I'm a joker – Baba Jamal

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Mohammed Ahmed Baba Jamal (in political suit)is a Deputy Minister of Information in Ghana.

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday August 11, 2011.
Beleaguered Deputy Minister of Information, Mohammed Ahmed Baba Jamal’s attempt to downplay his infamous order to Information Services Department (ISD) staff to embellish their stories in order to make the government look good in the eyes of the public has backfired.

He released a statement yesterday admitting he once made such comments during a nationwide tour but said it was “a harmless joke”.

However, Baba Jamal who once declared Jihad on Akwatia over a Parliamentary seat could not be taken serious on the ‘joke’ explanation since on the same tape recording he is heard loud threatening to sack workers of the ISD if they fail to project the government in good light no matter the circumstance.

A copy of the recording which is in the possession of DAILY GUIDE, the Deputy Information Minister had said the core duty of the workers is to make government look good at all cost even if it means peddling falsehood or lying.

To Baba Jamal, NDC must stay in power by hook or crook, and he will do everything including dismissing innocent workers to achieve the diabolic agenda.

“Yours is to make government look good, whatever the circumstance. If the government buys sheep and gives it as a gift, you are free to say it is a cow. You are free to say that.

“If the colour of the sheep is black, you can say it was a white colourful cow, why do you think that we employ commentators” he quizzed rhetorically to the amusement of the workers who were heard giggling.

In his news release, Baba Jamal said the Ministry of Information has “absolutely no policy and strategy to use the ISD or any of its agencies to embellish or put out untruths as it is being accused”.

Baba Jamal emphasized that a recent statement he made during an open interaction with staff of the ISD, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives and the media after a working tour of the Greater Accra Region where he claimed he cracked the black sheep, white sheep joke was nothing more than that – “a harmless joke.”

Mr. Jamal said that was why he (Jamal) and his audience could be heard “having a hearty laugh when he made the statement.”

He claimed that “the essence of my statement was rather a call for the ethics and the mission of the ISD which is to disseminate government information and collect feedback from the people to be respected and that those who did not do that would be sanctioned.”

Mr. Jamal said he was “not surprised that a strange renewed interest has been given to this particular statement made over a month ago so my accusers would still find something negative to throw at me seeing that their recent concocted tape and fabricated tale of bribery involving me dishing out NYEP cash to journalists through non-existent bank accounts had collapsed.”

Mr. Jamal said “perhaps the joke was inappropriate” but justified it with a Ghanaian Chronicle issue of Thursday June 26, 2008 where the paper quoted then Minister of Information Asamoah Boateng of urging ISD staff to help explain government policies to the public.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Media Foundation pushes for enhanced media rights

Prof. Kwame Karikari giving an overview of the foundation’s activities. With him are from L to R Soule Issiaka (Benin), Edetaen Ojo (Nigeria), Gifty Afenyi-Dadzie, Moussa Coulibaly (Niger).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday August 10, 2011.
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is taking stock of its contribution towards the promotion of media and other related rights in the West African sub-region but says the agitation to decriminalize free speech must be pursued with a concerted effort.

Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of MFWA said the foundation’s strength in the advancement of free mass media and culture of free expression on the African continent can be found in the deepening of its collaboration with other related rights groups.

Opening a strategic meeting to mark “A decade of promoting freedom of expression and press freedom”, Prof. Karikari said until the MFWA came on the scene “there had been virtually no systematic, regular and consistent monitoring of any human right on a regional scale by any organization, national or regional, in West Africa.”

He said it was the MFWA that introduced what he called “focused, systematic” programmes and projects as a regional agenda and thrust adding “whereas previous efforts had been mostly reactions to violations principally, the MFWA introduced a comprehensive approach involving advocacy, promotion, defence and protection of rights.”

He said the round-the-clock monitoring of violations and abuses in all countries, complemented by a region-wide Alert service, has introduced “for the first time a region-wide programme of regular information, public opinion mobilization and protest.”

Prof. Karikari said despite the gains made so far the MFWA encountered challenges and set-backs due to the long history and culture of undemocratic governance and suffocation of right in Africa but added that “the persistence of these challenges have not discouraged the MFWA to relent.”

“In all, the MFWA has played a critical role in the development and progress of the civil society and human rights movement in West Africa specifically and Africa generally. There is strong indication that, despite the inevitable setbacks, this movement will grow, and so will the progress in the advancement and expansion of the rights of media and free expression, and democracy generally”.

Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights, Nigeria who chaired the function said “we need total collaboration to be able to push for the expansion of the frontiers of media freedoms and free speech.”

Femi Falana, a former President of West Africa Bar Association who is also a member of the MFWA Legal Defence Network said the cross-fertilization of ideas is bringing about progress in the fight against human rights abuses.

“MFWA has contributed immensely to the democratic state of the sub-region. We will continue to spearhead efforts to decriminalize free speech and make the continent safe for everybody.”