Friday, April 28, 2017


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By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, April 28, 2017

It has emerged that a former Chief Executive Officer of Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), Daniel Kofi Duku, allegedly issued dud cheques to the fund when he was asked to refund monies he purportedly unlawfully misappropriated.

The CEO, who reportedly was on a monthly salary of $15,000 (GH¢63,000), was said to have embarked on an unauthorized business trip outside the country and ended up blowing $26,000 belonging to the fund.

The Board of Trustees then asked him to refund the amount; and an internal investigative report conducted into the VCTF indicated that $8,252 had been paid, with $18,000 still outstanding.

The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) is currently probing him for alleged massive corruption under his leadership.

Two Cheques
When pressure was mounted on him to refund the rest of the money, Mr Kofi Duku allegedly issued two Barclays Bank cheques on July 30, 2011 and August 15, the same year, representing GH¢20,000 and GH¢10,000 respectively, which were all dishonoured by the bank when they were presented.

The alleged corrupt practices at the VCTF - which have virtually brought the fund, meant to give lifeline to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to its knees - has sparked public outrage.

Two important schemes under the fund called Development Assistance Fund (DAF) and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) were allegedly used as an avenue to steal state funds.

Currently, only about 7% of a whopping GH¢18.26 million invested by the government between 2010 and 2015 has been recovered, and GH¢32 million is reportedly missing.

About 205 SMEs are said to have benefitted from the DAF and SPV schemes and some existing and former employees, particularly Mr Daniel Kofi Duku, have been cited for “directly or indirectly” engaging in “fraudulent activities” during the disbursement of the DAF and SPV loans.

Loans were purportedly awarded to phony companies which could not be traced, making recovery very difficult.

Mr Kofi Duku, who was appointed by the late President Atta Mills in June 2010, was removed by John Mahama and replaced with the current chief executive, Osman Sulemana, who just referred the matter to the BNI.

BNI Probe 
An internal investigative report cited by DAILY GUIDE mentioned the alleged fraudulent activities of the former CEO and his cronies and as a result, Mr Osman Sulemana, on the instructions of the Board of Trustees, has invited the BNI to thoroughly look into the matter.
Apart from Mr. Duku, other top managers who are to be investigated include Kofi Sarpong, a former senior investment officer; Irene Anti Mensah, special assistant to the Ex-CEO; Emmanuel Akuamoah, Deputy General Manager – Kumasi Office; Charles Okyere, a client and friend to the Ex-CEO; Lassey Agbenyefia, former Trustee; George Aidoo, driver of the ex-CEO and Charity Opoku, former accountant and now an Investment Officer.

Conflict Of Interest
The report stated that “further investigations on the background of companies with the aim to aid recoveries of loans granted by the Trust Fund have revealed Mr. Duku’s involvement, through a company owned by him and other key application addresses same as one linked to him.

“These linkages cited are against the conflict of interest rules guiding the public sector and further hinders the efforts of the Trust Fund to recover these amounts paid to these non-existing companies.”

According to the report, the former CEO disregarded the board’s directive to halt the disbursement of the loans and went ahead in an ‘ultra vires’ fashion to disburse a whopping GH¢825,000.

It further said the involvement of Mr Agbenyefia, former trustee of the fund in many of the loans granted “is damning and partly relates to matters of fraud.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Details are emerging that the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF) has virtually been depleted due to alleged corrupt practices by officials at the fund.

It is turning out that the Development Assistance Fund (DAF) and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created under the VCTF to give funding access to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) were allegedly used as an avenue to steal state funds.

Currently, only about 7% of a whopping GH¢18.26 million invested by the government between 2010 and 2015 has been recovered and GH¢32 million was outstanding.

About 205 SMEs are said to have benefitted from the DAF and SPV schemes of the VTCF and some existing and former employees, particularly the immediate-past Chief Executive Officer Daniel Kofi Duku, have been cited for “directly or indirectly” engaging in “fraudulent activities” during the disbursement of the DAF and SPV loans.

Loans were purportedly awarded to phony companies which could not be traced, making recovery very difficult.

Mr Kofi Duku, who was appointed by the late President Atta Mills in June 2010, was removed by John Mahama and replaced with the current chief executive, Osman Sulemana, who just referred the matter to the BNI.

BNI Probes
An internal investigative report cited by DAILY GUIDE traced the alleged fraudulent activities of the former CEO and his cronies and as a result, Mr Osman Sulemana, on the instructions of the Board of Trustees, has invited the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to thoroughly look into the matter.

Apart from Mr. Duku who reportedly took a monthly salary of $15,000 (GH¢63,000), other top managers who are to be investigated include, Kofi Sarpong, who is a former senior investment officer; Irene Anti Mensah, a special assistant to the Ex-CEO; Emmanuel Akuamoah, a Deputy General Manager – Kumasi Office; Charles Okyere, who is a client and friend to the Ex-CEO; Lassey Agbenyefia, a former Trustee; George Aidoo, a driver of the Ex-CEO and Charity Opoku, former Accountant and now an Investment Officer.

The VCTF, which is the creation of Act 680 of 2004, is finding it difficult to retrieve the funds because the clients - mostly cronies and family of the Ex-CEO and other top management members - reportedly used fake documents in securing the loans.

According to the internal report endorsed by the Board of Trustees, the perpetrators had used fake application letters, fake signatures, fake business registration certificates; and the loans were authorized with due diligence while the issue of concessions to spouses and relatives of loan processing officers, non existing telephone contacts, company locations, denial of guarantors of signing loan documents among others, have come up strongly.

The ex-CEO reportedly granted a loan facility of GH¢580,000 to his driver (George Aidoo), who is said to have created four companies and another GH¢130,000 to the husband of the ex-CEOs personal assistant, Irene Mensah.

The driver’s companies - Aidoo Commodities (was granted GH¢250,000 in May 2013), Techgro Investment (GH¢150,000 in 2014), Asaman Commodities (GH¢30,000 in July 2015) and another GH¢150,000 for Techgro Investment.

According to the report, there was no processing officer in the loan granted Irene Mensah’s husband and VCTF has not been able to trace the company that received the funds because there is no file for that transaction.

The ex-CEO also allegedly granted GH¢900,000 to one of his friends called Charles Okyere, who was a signatory to four beneficiary companies like Farm Yard Ghana Limited (GH¢120,000 in August 2012), Fonelink Company Limited (GH¢30,000 in July 2012 with top-ups), Pee Wee Farms (a total of GH¢30,000 between October and December, 2012) as well as Moonshine Company, which was given GH¢120,000.

According to the report, $614,000 was paid into the personal account of one Reverend Blankson, a trustee of Bethany Church, for acquisition of 0.55acre land at Ridge, Accra, but the trust had not obtained any title to the land nor had the money been refunded.

The report said at one point, Mr. Duku was asked by the board to refund $26,252 following what was concluded to be an unlawful trip the CEO had embarked upon, but $18,000 was outstanding.

When he was pressed further for the refund, he allegedly issued two postdated cheques, which were all dishonoured.

According to the report, in 2015 alone, a total of GH¢825,000 was disbursed, disregarding the board’s directive to halt disbursement.

The VCTF, in its bid to recover the outstanding loans, engaged the services of Oxford and Beaumont, Sterling Partnership and Bethel Law to assist in the recovery programme; and in June 2015, Bullion Financial Advisors Limited (BFAL) was brought on board when a total of 116 companies were transferred to them.

According to the report, BFAL was able to restructure 52 loans and that had resulted in recouping GH¢612,540.79.

More anon.

Monday, April 24, 2017


By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, April 25, 2017

Bright Simons, a social innovator and researcher, has done another review of the contract signed between the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government and the Middle East Resources Investment Group LLC, otherwise known as AMERI Group or AMERI Energy, exposing Engineers and Planners’ (E&P’s) involvement in the whole contract.

He said the amount quoted in the contract that was awarded in favour of E&P - a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, younger brother of former President John Mahama - to do civil works for the AMERI plants to be fixed was outrageous and should not have happened.

It is turning out that E&P was allegedly paid around GH¢25 million by the then NDC government for the civil works and even that, it could  not complete the site preparation for the installation of 10 General Electric TM 2500 aeroderivative gas turbines.

The controversial $510 million project is currently located at the Aboadze Power Enclave, near Takoradi in the Western Region.

Addison Committee
A special 17-member committee set up by the Ministry of Energy, with popular lawyer Phillip Addison as Chairman, to restructure the $510 million Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) Agreement between Ghana and AMERI Energy, has recommended to the government to call back owners of the Dubai-based company for renegotiation.

It turned out that AMERI Energy was charging over $150 million commission and therefore, the Addison Committee came to the conclusion that if AMERI Energy refused to honour the invitation for re-negotiation, the government had the right to renounce the agreement on the grounds of fraud.

The committee had concluded that although fully paid, “E&P have demobilized from the site without completion of the works,” and said that the action of Ibrahim Mahama’s company amounted to “a breach of E&P’s contract with GoG.”

Interesting Queries
Mr. Simmons, who is the founder and president of mPedigree and leading member of IMANI Ghana – a think-tank - had done value for money analysis and raised thought-provoking queries about E&P’s involvement in the deal.

“First: Why is Engineers & Planners asking to be paid the full sum when it hasn't completed the work on the AMERI site and yet demobilised? Even more pertinent: Why didn't AMERI pay for this work? Which of the over 40 IPPs that have signed PPAs with ECG or VRA has the Government of Ghana paid for their civil works?”

In an indepth analysis, Mr. Simmons said,“GE, the manufacturers of the TM2500+, says each unit requires 24m x 6.5m footprint. We bought 10 units and implemented a standard rectangular grid layout. Let's be wasteful of space and say we needed 360m x 90m of space. That's about 32400 square meters.”

He added, “Engineers and Planners was hired to do: Earthworks, Compacting, Grading, Drainage, as part of site preparation for the hosting of the Ameri plant.

“No concreting, foundation reinforcement or structural works were done. Remember these plants are trailer-mounted so structural support is embedded in the system itself.

“Consultancy civil engineering cost estimation manual you want in the world and use the most liberal fudge factors for labour and material costs. You would struggle to hit $20 per m2 for these activities.”

Mind-boggling Charge
Mr Simons cited an example that Accra Mall rents out each square meter of space at $55 (up from $26 a few years ago) saying, “If they had paid even $5 per m2 for civil works would they be able to rent out at $55 and cover all their project costs and still make a profit?

“Yet we go ahead and pay a mind-boggling $185 per square meter (m2) to clear land and compact it to receive 10 trailers.”

E&P Denial
In December 2015 - in the heat of the AMERI deal debate - E&P rejected claims by then opposition  New Patriotic Party (NPP) that it was involved in the controversial AMERI Energy agreement.

A statement the company issued said, E&P “is in no way involved and has no role in AMERI’s contract with the Government of Ghana and the purchase or sourcing of power turbines by AMERI for the generation of power.”

The statement had said that E&P was only “contracted by the Volta River Authority (VRA) to undertake some civil works at Aboadze to prepare a platform to receive the power generating units and other ancillary equipment for the AMERI 250MW Power Project,” and had since “handed over the completed platform to the VRA” after finishing its work.


By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, April 25, 2017

Interior Minister Ambrose Dery says the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is setting up an investigative body to look into the circumstances that led to the huge fire that ravaged Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom’s plush Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra.

Substantial parts of the facility, located at North Ridge, were in flames Saturday evening and there are claims that the fire continued for about three hours before it was finally overpowered by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), which head office is about 500 metres away from the hotel. The facility is part of the chain of resorts owned by the astute businessman and leader of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP).

Affected Areas
Buildings in the hotel premises that were affected by the fire house Business Television Africa (BTA), Amansan TV (ATV), GN Bank and Gold Coast Securities - all being parts of Dr. Nduom’s consortium called Groupe Nduom.

However, managers of the hotel revealed later in a statement that “The Regency Hotel and its restaurant, guest rooms and conference facilities are intact and were not touched by the fire.”

They said the inferno started from an air-conditioning facility at Amansan Television (ATV) which shares a compound with the hotel, at about 4:00 pm.

The minister of the interior and his team visited the fire scene where he later promised a thorough investigation into circumstances surrounding the fire outbreak.

Full Report
Addressing journalists, the minister said President Akufo-Addo had been made aware of the incident and was very much interested in the report.

 “On Monday I expect a full investigation and a report on this matter. What I heard is that Fire Service came and ran short of water, portraying a hopeless situation. I’ll want an explanation to that. They’ve given me a preliminary explanation… There will certainly be an investigation. I’ll want to hear all the complaints and hear their reaction to that,” he said.

Mr Dery added, “On Monday I’ll be asking for a report… It is a disturbing trend that these fires come and we want to be sure that we are doing our best in terms of the reaction of the Fire Service. I am quite clear that maybe we can do things better than we are doing now. I’ll like to find out what actually transpired and see what actually went wrong and what we can do to make things better.”

Nduom Shocked
 Dr. Nduom, through PPP Chairman, Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond, was said to be “shocked” by the incident and said he believed that the extent of destruction from the fire could have been minimal if the Fire Service had been adequately resourced to deal with it when it started.

“It was a shock to all of us, the CEO of Groupe Nduom is aware of it; he has been informed. The fire department has come to do its best together with the Air Force fire department. We are now out to assess the damage…. He was shocked. In my interaction with him a few hours ago, there was a sense of shock and believes that it was something that could be avoided if the fire department was properly resourced with water and fire hydrants and all of what it takes to put out a small fire that ought not to spread to the degree it did,” Mr Brew-Hammond said.

Mahama’s Word
Former President John Dramani Mahama took to social media platform, Facebook, to post some words of encouragement to Dr. Nduom and his family saying, “Yesterday’s fire at Coconut Grove Regency Hotel is a major loss to our hospitality industry. My thoughts are with Dr and Mrs Nduom and workers of Groupe Nduom.”

Sunday, April 23, 2017


By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has expressed surprise at the way in which the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) is tackling issues regarding the recent $2.2 billion bond issued by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government on the international market.

He said the minority’s position on the matter clearly shows that they lack understanding and had never understood the dynamics of the economy.

Minority Grievance
Since the turn of the week, the NDC has been taking issues with the Akufo-Addo-led government and has been pointing fingers, particularly at Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, over how the deal was struck.

The NDC claimed the rate at which the bonds were issued was relatively high because the Finance Minister has private interests in it, alleging that a fund manager called Franklin Templeton - an American global investment firm -  that participated in the transaction had ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ links to the minister’s private business.

Strangely, the same company participated in the previous bonds issued by the erstwhile NDC administration.

Veep’s Response
Dr. Bawumia has hit back at the NDC from Washington DC, United States, where he is currently participating in the IMF/World Bank Spring Meeting, accusing the opposition of being ignorant about the whole issue.

“This shows a lack of understanding. The minority has never understood this economy and it is just amazing that people on their side who were actually in-charge of managing the economy would be making such statements. It shows ignorance. It really shows ignorance and I am so sad when I hear that from people who should know better,” he told journalists, who are covering the meeting in the United States.

“They need to understand. Maybe they should read a little,” Dr. Bawumia said, adding, “This is what politics has been reduced to - trying to say things which really have no basis and basically wrapped in ignorance.  So I am a bit sad for Ghana and for them, because they are really demonstrating a lot of ignorance in the process of managing this economy.”

The NDC agitation is being led by a former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson.

The Bond
The government on Monday, April 3, 2017, announced it was successful in the auction of a total of $2.25 billion in four bonds and the first two bonds, totaling $1.13 billion, were issued at 15 and 7 years periods with the same coupon of 19.75%, while in addition, the Ministry of Finance raised the cedi equivalent of $1.12 billion in 5 and 10-year bonds via a tap-in arrangement.

Town Hall Encounter
Dr. Bawumia at a town hall meeting on Monday to brief the public on achievements within the 100 days of the Akufo-Addo government had described the $2.25 billion move as the "deal of the year," and said it was essentially part of a strategy to re-profile the country's debt.

"Many people didn’t understand the transaction and thought that we have gone to borrow $2 billion to add to Ghana’s debt. No! We are actually replacing more expensive debt with less expensive debt and elongating it and making it better for this country," he explained.

Minority’s Persistence
The minority has been incensed by the vice president’s purported remark, describing it as ‘unpresidential.’
Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, who is said to be leading the ‘conflict of interest charge’ against the government, according to Joy FM, said he was ‘shocked’ that such comments would come from the vice president.

His colleague in parliament, Richard Quarshigah, has taken strong exception and demanded an unqualified apology from Dr Bawumia.

Mr Quarshigah, NDC MP for Keta, who is the deputy minority ranking member on the Employment Committee of Parliament, has rubbished Dr Bawumia’s description of the minority as “ignorant.”

In a statement titled, ‘Bawumia must apologise to Ghanaians and Minority in Parliament,’ Mr. Quashigah said, “If indeed those were his words, then it is not only unfortunate, but a very jaundiced conclusion to have been made by him. If indeed the reportage as put out by the media is accurate, then he is advised to learn to speak with diplomacy and dignity expected of a vice president or else before long he could cause this nation an incalculable international embarrassment.

 “Assuming without admitting that the minority got it wrong, couldn't he have clarified without insults? Dr Bawumia, the current Vice President of Ghana, must do the excellent thing by withdrawing and must apologise to the good people of Ghana. The use of intemperate language is unbecoming of the vice president.”

Friday, April 21, 2017


By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, April 21, 2017

The family of Joseph Boakye Danquah-Adu aka JB, Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region, who was murdered in cold blood last year, has made a passionate appeal to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to order the security agencies to re-open the whole case again.

Although two young men are currently standing trial at an Accra High Court over the gruesome murder of the former New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP, the family is insisting that justice might never be served due to the way in which the security agencies, particularly the Ghana Police Service, have handled the case so far.

A petition jointly signed by N. Kwaku Solomon and Kofi Atta, spokespersons for the Acheampong family which they say represents JB said, “Just as the Ghanaian people want to know, tens of questions are lingering on the minds of the late J.B. Danquah-Adu’s family which includes you (Mr. President) requires immediate steps to unravel the mystery behind his murder and arrest and prosecution of all those who have a hand in this.”

Security Mistrust
In the petition, the family recounted instances that have given them cause to come to the conclusion that the late JB’s killers might never be found if the president does not intervene.

It said in the petition titled, ‘Petition to re-commission investigations into late Hon. J.B. Danquah-Adu’s murder due to the lack of evidence by the Ghana Police Service’ that, “We are not happy with the Ghana Police Service. To us as a nation, we have confidence in them but their action has put their integrity on the line.”

Clear Instances
Citing examples, the agitated family said, “Credible media reports and preliminary accounts by the prime suspect, Daniel Asiedu, immediately after his arrest suggest that he was hired to kill J.B. Danquah-Adu, a man who held the centre of our family and thousands of his constituents among others.”

The family added, “A DAILY GUIDE newspaper publication reported that the suspect, Daniel Asiedu, told the police he was contracted to kill our cousin J.B. Danquah-Adu, for a price of GH¢2,000, part of which he used to buy shoes,” adding, “Interestingly enough, his accounts at the police station changed shortly after he was sent to the BNI cell and subsequently to the court. He claimed to have gone on a robbery expedition!”

No Robbery
The spokespersons said, “Mr. President, it is worthwhile to note that a number of security analysts ruled out robbery as the motive for the murder and that everything points to a premeditated attack. Meanwhile, the suspect reportedly mentioned names of his accomplice and others who may have hired him to commit the crime during the preliminary stage of the investigations but later changed his statement in court.

“Mr. President, if the society we live in cannot protect its citizens or seek justice for such an honorable and astute businessman, who as a matter of fact is your cousin and his family fought with their blood to attain independence for our dear nation, then what is the faith of the ordinary hawker on the street and millions of homeless Ghanaian citizens if they fall into such circumstances?” they wondered.

Shock News
On February 9, 2016, Ghanaians woke up to the shocking news of the murder of JB at Shiashie, near East Legon, Accra.

The Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, then led by COP Akuffo Dampare, quickly swung into action and arrested a suspect called Daniel Asiedu, aka Sexy Don Don - a native of Larteh in the Eastern Region - after two days of the gruesome murder.

Asiedu, in his first statement, had made what was described as ‘mind-blowing’ revelations upon his arrest and even mentioned the amount of money paid him by his ‘recruiter(s)’ as well as the role allegedly played by an unnamed MP, a supposed member of a certain political party.

JB’s security man was said to be part of the plot, according to Asiedu.

BNI Custody
However, when the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) took over the case for further investigation, Asiedu made a sudden U-turn, allegedly changing his thumb-printed statement by claiming that he had gone to the late JB Danquah-Adu’s house to rob and not to kill him.

Later on May 19, 2016, after being tossed between police and BNI custodies, Asiedu reportedly insisted that the statement he gave to the police on February 11 should be taken as the true reflection of what happened.

In the said statement extracted from him by the police in Accra, Asiedu, who had been returned to the police from BNI custody following a court order, had admitted that he committed the gruesome murder for a reward of GH¢2,000.

MP’s Assignment
He had said emphatically in his statement that it was one Junior Agogo, who appeared to have been identified as Vincent Bosso, and another called Avenger who recruited him for the alleged crime and that when he asked them about the source of the money, the two had told him it was an MP’s assignment.

Avenger was reportedly arrested by the police and it came at a time Asiedu had left the BNI cells.

Whilst at the BNI, Asiedu was said to be in solitary confinement and at one point claimed in court that the security operatives wanted to kill him through food poisoning.

Interesting Narration
“I was at Zongo Junction dealing in second-hand mobile phones when my friends, by names Junior and Avenger, approached me and said they had a job for me to execute for an amount of GH¢2,000. They did not tell me the type of job and I thought it was a stealing operation (sic),” Asiedu claimed in his statement.

He had told interrogators that on the following day, Tuesday, February 9, his two friends came in a taxi to pick him up at Madina Zongo Junction, went in the direction of Shiashie and stopped in front of a house and said there were flowers planted in front of it.

“It was Junior who called the security man on duty and told him he had arrived. In the vehicle, Junior was also talking to someone on his phone but I could not tell whether it was the security man or any other person,” he had said, adding that the security man assisted them with a ladder and a table and Junior climbed first, followed by Avenger and then he (Daniel) followed after sometime.

JB’s Room
The three of them, he said, entered the room through JB’s window while he was sleeping.

He said Junior took the late MP’s two phones and a catapult and handed them over to him.

“It was Junior who stabbed JB with a knife,” Daniel had claimed, adding that he (Sexy Don Don) left the catapult and his slippers behind.

He claimed he was paid the GH¢2,000 before they got to the crime scene and that he later used GH¢300 out of the GH¢2,000 to buy some clothes.

Daniel added that he kept the MP’s Samsung mobile phone and told the other two what he got from the room.

Suspected Cover-up
On the eve of JB’s funeral last year, then NPP MP for Obuasi East, Edward Ennin, had lambasted the authorities for not doing enough to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book and said on Adom TV that he suspected an official cover-up.

According to the vociferous former MP, there was a video recording that appeared to show the moment the assailants of the murdered MP left the crime scene at his Shiashie residence.

CCTV Footage
A close circuit television (CCTV) appears to have captured that moment when Mr Ennin said a white Nissan Altima left the scene after the gruesome murder at dawn that February 9, 2016.

He said what he saw in the video clearly showed that the security agencies investigating the gruesome murder had not done enough to track down the perpetrators of the dastardly crime.

“I am telling you that I have watched a CCTV video footage. The assailant had dressed like someone ready to fight karate. He was in black attire. A resident in the area had his/her CCTV camera capturing the assailant.

“There was a white car (Altima K45), which is popular in town. What was the car doing in the area at that material moment?” he queried.