Avoka Fumbles Over Unusual Payment
The telephone dismissal of the Director-General of the Ghana Prisons Service, William K. Asiedu, and the subsequent withdrawal of the order by the Minister of the Interior, Cletus Avoka, has provoked questions about whether he is not fumbling against the backdrop of an unusual and suspicious payment even when an appeal against the transaction was not yet to be disposed of by a competent court.
An amount of GH¢2.8million (¢28 billion) is said to have been paid out to the supplier even though an appeal against the transaction is pending at a court of appeal. Having failed to deliver 8,000 pairs of combat boots to the Ghana Prisons Service by a company, Apex Consulting Services, on time and not according to specification, payment for the goods, when they finally landed, were withheld by the authorities for alleged breach of contract.
Kwabena Boateng-Aidoo, chief executive officer of Apex Consulting Services who has allegedly been sending threatening messages to the prison boss, told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that he was unaware about the payment to NDK.
Mr Boateng-Aidoo was also not sure that the case was on appeal, blaming the Prisons Service for the unfortunate developments. The matter became a subject of legal wrangling until judgment was delivered in favour of NDK Financial Services Limited who provided the loan facility to Apex Consulting Services, the company which won the supply bid.
Leather combat boots, according to documents cited by DAILY GUIDE, were varied for synthetic boots and the variation alongside the delay in supplying the items caused the consignee to withhold payment.
In the judgment of Mrs. Justice Margaret Welbourne, High Court Judge, Commercial Division, in favour of NDK Financial Services Ltd, owned by Oko Ni-Koi Dzani, providers of the loan facility to Apex Consulting Services, payment of the sum of GH¢602,609.50, the balance due the loan, was ordered to be paid by the Attorney General.
Mr Dzani is the chairman of the committee set up by President Atta Mills to advise him about appropriate reward for the victorious Black Satellites. NDK donated GH¢10,000 to the Satellites. Interest due the loan at the contractual rate of 5percent per month in arrears from July 1, 2007 up through and including the date of final payment was also ordered.
The Ghana Prisons Service, the consignee, not satisfied with the judgment given that the boots imported did not meet the contractual specification and timing, prompted an appeal against the judgment through the Attorney General.
Even as judgment in respect of the appeal awaits disposal by a competent Court of Appeal, the money which suddenly skyrocketed to GH¢2.8b (¢28 billion), DAILY GUIDE learnt, was approved and paid out to the company in a very suspicious way, raising questions about the propriety of the payment.
The Director General of the Prisons Service, William K. Asiedu, is said to be worried about the development, given that due process has not been followed with the matter which is still in dispute in a court of law.
His subtle concern is said to be the cause of his problem with the Interior Minister, leading to his verbal dismissal without the approval of the Prisons Council, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.
On January 12, 2006, the Managing Director of Apex Consulting Limited, Kwabena Boateng-Aidoo, had his company’s application for a loan of ¢1,282,365,000 approved by NDK Financial Services Limited to enable it supply boots to the Prisons Service.
Unable to retire the loan, NDK went to court and succeeded in getting a judgment in its favour, but the distasteful outcome prompted the Ghana Prisons Service to seek an appeal through the Attorney General. Not only was a convention breached, but the amount of money paid out appeared to be beyond the imagination of the Ghana Prisons Service, especially when it had been established by the BNI and CEPS that the contract was not followed to the letter.
When therefore the Interior Minister, through a telephone call, asked the Director General(DG) of the Prisons Service to hand over his office to the man who is fourth in the chain of command in the paramilitary organization, he stepped on the toes of the Prisons High Command.
The verbal dismissal was expected to take effect from Friday November 6, in total contravention of the 1992 Constitution which put such actions solely in the hands of the President, in consultation with the Council of State.
By the minister’s verbal order to the DG who is also a lawyer, the command was to have gone to Michael Kofi Bansah, Director of Operations, an unusual jump over two seniors.
The development, if even withdrawn via word of mouth, has left behind a sour taste in the mouth of superior officers and thereby lowering morale. Mr. Asiedu has been on the ruling government’s dismissal list and so when the verbal order was issued, it did not surprise many who were privy to it.
Mr. Asiedu’s legal background has primed him for a possible showdown with the Minister, should he persist on going for his head once more, especially in view of last Monday’s payment to Apex Consulting Services.
As for the minister, who is also a lawyer, he would have to do a lot of explaining about the circumstances which paved way for the payment of the said amount of money, even when the matter was still pending in a competent court of law.