Procurement Act is to curb corruption – Ablakwa

Okudzeto-Ablakwa - Deputy Information Minister

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Information (MOI), on Tuesday said the “principles” of the Procurement Act were to curb corruption, ensure efficiency and value for money.

Mr Ablakwa said if contracts awarded were ratified by Ministries, then the purpose of the Procurement Act would be defeated.

Continuing with his cross-examination before the Fast Track High Court hearing the case of the former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng and others, Mr Ablakwa pointed out that it was because the contract on the rehabilitation of the Ministry was not discussed or recorded by the Ministry’s Board that he reported the case to the Bureau of National Investigations.

When asked by Mr Augustines Obuor, defence counsel for Dominic Sampong, former Acting Chief Director, Ministry of Information and National Orientation, how much it cost to renovate his burnt office, the Deputy Minister put the figure at GH¢36,000.

Mr Ablakwa explained the amount was to renovate his one room office which was razed by the fire.

He mentioned some of the items that were replaced during the refurbishment of his office as the ceiling, curtains, tiles and office equipment.

According to him, one could not compare the cost of renovation of the Ministerial Block to his burnt office.

He said apart from the irregularity associated with the contract on the renovation of the Ministerial Block, there were serious issues that ought to be looked at by the court.

The issues were the fact that the contract was awarded by a former Minister to his relation, there were no meeting by the Ministry’s Board and no minutes were recorded in respect of the contract awarded to Phlexifom Ventures.

Tempers flared up when Chief State Attorney, Anthony Gyambiby, asked the court for a well defined meaning of the expression “I am holding brief” used by some lawyers.

According to Mr Gyambiby, some lawyers got up “with a broad chest” saying they were holding brief for their seniors without declaring “I am holding limited brief.”

He said the expression used by these lawyers portrayed that they had absolute control over the case and they could go ahead to conduct cross examinations but they failed to do so when they were required.

Mr Egbert Faibille Jnr, a lawyer on the case, then retorted that staff of the Attorney General had also been holding brief for their colleagues to the detriment of remand prisoners.

“If you have small chest, that is your problem. Apart from following seniority at the bar, we are all certified lawyers”, he said.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Charles Quist, intervened and urged defence counsel, Mr Atta Akyea and Nene Amegatcher representing Kwabena Denkyira, former Director of Finance and Administration of the Ministry, and Asamoah Boateng and his wife Zulieka, respectively, to appear before it so they could cross-examine Mr Ablakwa.

Asamoah-Boateng, former Minister of Information and National Orientation, his wife, Zulieka Jennifer Lorwia and six public officers have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the State.

Also in court is a non-legal entity firm, Supreme Procurement Agencies Limited.

The accused persons are alleged to have conspired to defraud the State of GH¢86,915.85 in renovation works undertaken at the Ministerial Block of the Ministry during Asamoah-Boateng’s tenure of office.

Other accused persons are Frank Agyekum, former Deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation, Dominic A. Sampong, former Acting Chief Director, Ministry of Information and National Orientation, Kwabena Denkyira, former Director of Finance and Administration of the Ministry, Prosper Arku of the non-legal entity firm, and Yasmine Domua, a businesswoman.

They have all pleaded not guilty before the court presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist.

The court has admitted them to GH¢10,000 bail each with a surety.

The case was adjourned to October 26.

Source: GNA

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