In the wake of the furore over the granting of the monopoly Interconnect Clearing House (ICH) license by the National Communications Authority (NCA), pressure group, Occupy Ghana is demanding that the NCA provides the group with detailed information on the interconnect clearinghouse license within one week.
The group also wants the Presidency to task an independent body with investigating the issuance of the license to Afriwave and the allegations raised against the process by policy think tank IMANI Ghana.
Hinging its allegations on a leaked report of the evaluation panel in its possession, IMANI raised a red flag over the assessment of applicants for the ICH license, accusing the NCA of fraudulently rigging a hasty evaluation to favour Afriwave, claims which the NCA has dismissed in statements and with the publication of a slightly different report which is supposedly the authentic report of the evaluation panel.
According to Occupy Ghana its experience in seeking information has often been met with “stonewalling” and sometimes “absolute disrespect” and disregard for its letters.
The group said at a press conference today February 19, 2016 in Accra, that though it formally requested information from the NCA on the license in February 2015, followed by a reminder in March 2015, it was yet to receive a reply but would for now, even in the wake of the allegations, give the NCA the benefit of the doubt until its new request is heeded and the information is provided.
It is however not clear what action it will take if its ultimatum is not met.
“There are a number of options; depending on what response we get, we can decide which other line of action we are going to take”, George Andah, a leading member of the group said.
Pursuant to Article 21(1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (the right to information subject to necessary qualifications and laws), the group wants the following:
Minutes/notes of all meetings relating to the ICH, involving Ministry personnel, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Directors; names and titles of participants and their experience in telecoms; discussions and analysis of funding and impact of the ICH license; correspondence before and after such meetings and inputs from non-proponents of the clearing house.
The full details of all public and stakeholder consultations including names and titles of participants, presentations made by Ministry and other personnel, notes of comments made by non-Ministry attendants and so on.
All documentation showing the approvals required by law for the disbursement of public funds toward construction and operation of the ICH
GYEEDA and other matters
The group also expressed its discontent with the rate of retrieval of monies paid to companies by the erstwhile Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and said that again, a letter to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and two subsequent reminders, did not yield a response.
It said after requesting information on payment schedules and parliamentary approvals of the various interest free loans to the companies, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, former GYEEDA board and Youth Entrepreneurial Agency, one of the beneficiary companies denied receiving a loan.
“We received a letter from Centre for Development Partners, one of the beneficiary companies, claiming they never received any loan of GHȼ 300,000 from GYEEDA and we notified the ministry subsequently. After receiving an unsatisfactory response, we wrote directly to the Attorney General on 11th August 2015, requesting same information but our letter was also ignored.”
A member of the group Sydney Casely-Hayford, highlighted once again the need for the Minister of Justice to be decoupled from the Attorney General, and said the government’s attitude and the prevailing situation with regard to corruption and the retrieval of monies, is a leadership issue for which the current government needs to go.
“We are advocating for a change and I’m not gonna hide it from anybody. We can’t carry on with a government like this. We want this government to go and a new government to come. We’re not advocating for a particular government to come; we’re saying this government must go.”
“If this government goes, a new government comes that is more focused on ensuring good governance, hopefully the system would change and we would be able to do things a lot better. I would vote for anybody who’s coming in and saying that one of the first things I’ll do when I come in is I’ll ensure that the Attorney General is independent. That for me will solve a whole slew of problems and we can move on”, he said.
By Emmanuel Odonkor