Amidst governing the country in an unusual year due to the coronavirus pandemic, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his government sparked controversies with various issues concerning governance.
Pulse.com.gh as the year comes to an end, looks at scandals that happened in 2020 under the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Agyapa Royalties deal
The controversy over the Agyapa Royalties deal started on August 14, 2020, when the Majority Members of Parliament secured the numbers to pass the agreement.
Although, the Minority staged a walked out over the deal but it was finally passed.
The government in July 2020 introduced an amendment to the Act to ensure that the SPVs that the Fund would establish to manage investments get unrestricted independence.
On the back of the amendment and the original provisions of the act, the Minerals Income Investment Fund set up an offshore limited liability company known as Agyapa Royalties Limited (previously Asaase Royalties Limited).
The Agyapa Royalties Ltd is incorporated in Bailieick of Jersey in the UK, a tax haven. It has been incorporated in a tax haven to cut out the associated high tax charges to the returns that will accrue to the state from the investments.
Agyapa Royalties Limited is registered in Ghana as an external company.
The Attorney-General described the inability of the state to review or evaluate the effectiveness of the Agyapa Royalties deal in the future as “unconscionable”.
The deal to the Finance Minister, the Attorney General stated that the payments in respect of the agreement will be made in US dollars which violates the Bank of Ghana Act, 2016 (Act 918) which mandates that transactions be made in the currency unit of Ghana which is the cedi or its equivalent.
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Ken-Ofori-Atta
According to her, the manner of the deal agreed “freezes anything legal including judicial orders and decisions. In effect, no court can pronounce on any part of the agreement as being illegal, unconscionable, null, and void or on any matter before the court which may or is likely to affect any part of the agreement.”
“This will amount to executive interference of the powers of the judiciary, which is a violation of the concept of separation of powers as provided under the Constitution of Ghana. Therefore, the executive arm of government cannot enter into an agreement that curtails the independence of both the Legislature and the Judiciary.”
Civil Society Organisations also kicked against the deal.
The CSOs made an emphatic demand for a suspension of the deal until all documents relating to the beneficial owners of the deal are disclosed.
Martin Amidu resigns over Nana Addo’s interference in Agyapa deal
Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu has resigned from his office with immediate effect over interference in his work by the NPP-led government by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
He stated that the President of the Republic was interfering in the performance of his duties in relation to the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment on the controversial Agyapa Royalties Transaction.
He alleged that the President attempted to convince him to include a response from the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta in his report which he declined because “that would have compromised my independence as the Special Prosecutor.”
In his assessment report on the Agyapa deal, Amidu said the Transaction Advisor involved in the deal were susceptible to “nepotism, cronyism, and favouritism”.
Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu with Nana Addo
According to him, Nana Addo has not been able to ensure his independence and freedom of action.
“The one condition upon which I accepted to be nominated as the Special Prosecutor when you invited me to your Office on 10th January 2018 was your firm promise to me that you will respect and ensure same by your Government for my independence and freedom of action as the Special Prosecutor,” he stated.
NLA contract allegedly robs the country of $10m
The National Lottery Authority in a Multimedia Group and Joy News documentary was allegedly involved in a case of corruption.
The investigation has uncovered a contract for which the nation stands a chance to lose up to $10 million in the procurement of Point of Sale (POS) devices for the NLA.
The documentary had suggested that the price of POS devices was allegedly inflated by the National Lottery Authority.
In the documentary, the team gathered evidence that the contract for the supply of 30,000 POS devices for the NLA should have cost less than half of the contract sum of $25 million.
PDS deal lingers on
The concession agreement with Power Distribution Services has been terminated on the instruction of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
A termination brings to an end, PDS’ short-lived control of the country’s electricity supply.
The decision was taken after some fundamental and material breaches were detected on the part of PDS.
The company was engaged in March but since its suspension on July 30, 2020, but the argument still lingers on and PDS had been embroiled in a corporate governance tussle among the shareholders.
A Ghanaian local consortium holds 51% of the shares while the remaining 49% shares are for two foreign companies, Manila Electric Company Limited (Meralco), a Filipino company with 30% shares, and Aenergia, an Angolan company with 19%.
Foreign player, Meralco offloaded its shares to Meridian Power Ventures Ltd, a letter to a key transaction advisor, the US-backed Millenium Development Authority (MiDA) confirmed.
The opposition sees the offloading of Meralco’s shares as evidence of clandestine attempts by the government to loot the assets of Electricity Company of Ghana taken over by PDS.
PDS was suspended after the government said it suspected the agreement was tainted with fraud.
The transaction advisor, MiDA, set up an investigative body into the allegations and cleared PDS of fraud.
Despite the clearance in August, PDS remained suspended and the government has now taken a decision to cancel the agreement, sources have maintained.
The Energy Ministry when contacted said no such decision has been made.
500 missing excavators used for galamsey missing
In 2020, it was reported that the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Professor Frimpong Boateng, had disclosed that 500 Excavators A.K.A, Earth-moving Machines, seized by the Operation Vanguard, were missing.
The news was received with shock as many people could not believe how those heavy-duty machines could be missing.
In 2017 and 2018, during the height of the fight against illegal mining (Galamsay), the then Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, sanctioned members of the Operation Vanguard team to seize any machine or equipment that they may chance upon in any galamsey site.
The order was swiftly carried out and the seized earth-moving machines were later directed by the current Minister for Energy to be parked at the premises of the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
Subsequently, the public was told by the current minister for the sector that the seized excavators were missing.
Elvis Morris Donkor, the Member of Parliament for Abura, Asebu, Kwamankese said the over 500 missing excavators used for illegal mining put the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the government in a bad light.
He said it’s an embarrassment to the government over the missing excavators.
An audio recording surfaced online with the voice of the suspended Central Regional Vice-Chairman of the NPP, Horace Ekow Ewusi who was arrested by the police for over 500 missing excavators used for galamsey.
Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng issued a letter directing the Criminal Investigation Department to arrest and interrogate him after learning that Vice Chairman of the NPP, Horace Ekow Ewusi had sold some of the confiscated items from illegal miners.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng in the recording is heard allegedly agreeing to their request and gave his party folks the green light to engage in galamsey.
“…Did you tell me that you are done forming the team? We talked about the framework…we all know that the party needs money…I told you that Chairman Wontumi has some concession so go there and inspect the place…but after the meeting, you told me that you are done with everything and your guys have started working…” he said.
Ekow Ewusi on his part said Elvis Morris Donkor, the Member of Parliament for Abura, Asebu, Kwamankese (AAK), had also requested an excavator from the Minister [Frimpong-Boateng] to use on some galamsey sites.
He stated: “The last time you met my MP [Elvis Donkor] in Parliament, he told you that he will also need a machine to work with and you even asked him to come and see me because I have a lot of these excavators.”
The scandal also has some element of “causing financial loss to the state”.