Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Wa East have accused the District Social Welfare Officer of using threats to force them to give back to him part of the money paid to them from their three per cent share of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF).
Mathew Dassah, the man at the centre of the extortion claim, is reported to have demanded and taken amounts ranging from GH¢200.00 to GH¢1,000.00.
The District Officer was said to have colluded with a representative of the PWDs on the Fund Disbursement Committee, Edward K. Asiedu, to extort the monies.
The pair flatly denies doing any such thing and insists the allegation is completely false.
Mr. Michael Clarus Boyel, the Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare, has promised an investigation to get to the bottom of the matter, while the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) says it would be heading to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Some of the people making the accusation told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the two – Dassah and Seidu had asked to be paid the various amounts of money to see some “big men” so that their names would continue to remain on the disbursement list.
Osman Wahid, a 45-year-old beneficiary from Goripie, claimed he was forced to give out GH¢1,000.00 out of the GH¢3,500.00 he collected.
Another person, Abass Murtada also from Goripie, alleged he was made to part with GH¢200.00.
Kofi Maduu from Kulkpong said he had to let go GH¢700.00 out of the GH¢3,000.00, he received.
They alleged that the two men threatened, they would be blacklisted if they refused to oblige – give in to their demand.
When contacted by the GNA, Mr. Dassah, denied the allegation, saying, “It is not true and can never be true, there is no fact in it”.
He said he had only gone to the bank to assistant the district accountant identify beneficiaries and their Identification Cards (IDs) since auditors often raised queries about basic procedures not being followed.
“Some people always come with wrong IDs, misspell their names or have signatures different from what the cheque bears”.
On his part, Mr. Seidu said he was in the banking hall to make sure that those taking the money were actually PWDs, and more so, when he did not know the said 40 beneficiaries by face.
The GFD National President, Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, said the Federation had been inundated with reports about extortion from their members anytime the common fund was being disbursed to PWDs.
He expressed deep discomfort with the situation and said they would be making a formal complaint to CHRAJ.