Tuesday, 28 September 2010

By Halifax Ansah-Addo
Daily Guide of Sept. 28, 2010

Reports reaching DAILY GUIDE indicate that the Information Ministry has suddenly become an avenue for siphoning public funds into pockets of appointees of the Mills administration, with the Minister, John Tia Akologo, being fingered as one of the appointees.
John Tia, who recently jumped to the defence of Stanislav Xoese Dogbe, a Presidential Aide over the GH¢169,000.00 hampers’ scandal even though he was not the Minister at the time when the money was spent, is said to be plundering the account of the ministry with his unrestrained profligacy.
Sources at the Ministry of Information have hinted that President Atta Mills caused the dismissal of Nee Agiri Barnor also known as Mije Barnor as Acting Director of the Information Services Department (ISD), mainly on suspicion that he was a whistle-blower who would not justify corruption by calling it an ‘indiscretion’.
The President’s aim is to ostensibly conceal corruption at the Ministry including the GH¢169,000.00 hampers’ scandal, sources swore to DAILY GUIDE over the weekend.
Days after government sacked Nee Agiri, workers within the ISD have told the media there was collective looting of the taxpayer’s money by the Information Minister, John Tia and his two deputies.
Yesterday, a group within the ISD accused Mr. Tia and his two deputies, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa and James Agyenim Boateng of unbridled corruption.
The ISD workers, in a press statement, alleged that John Tia picks between GH¢2,000 and GH¢5,000 Ghana cedis from the coffers of the Ministry anytime he travelled outside Accra, according to a Citi FM report.
The group referred to the Minister and his deputies as “greedy, corrupt and selfish”, and alleged that funds meant for the ISD had been deliberately locked up in the Ministry’s coffers.
It claimed only GH¢45,000 of a budget of GH¢340,000 allocated to the ISD was released in 2009.
The concerned staff also alleged that a budget of GH¢145,000 released for public education on the H1N1 influenza was diverted.
They claimed Mije Barnor was sacked because of fears that the widespread corruption at the Ministry could be exposed after Mr. Dogbe was caught pants down with the ¢1.6 billion he was said to have spent on buying hampers for journalists.
John Tia has however denied the allegations and asked his accusers to provide evidence of the alleged corruption.
He told Citi FM yesterday that it was rather the sacked ISD boss who wanted to corrupt him.
However, the Information Minister said he failed to report the matter to the police, but warned him not to try it again.
According to John Tia, since it was a mere intention, he did not find it necessary to report to the police, but rather asked Nee Agiri to go home and sin no more.
Sources from the ISD have told DAILY GUIDE that Agiri Barnor was overly principled on instilling accountability and productivity and was therefore seen as a thorn in the flesh of some bad nuts in the Ministry. This paper was reliably informed that a plush party was thrown to celebrate his dismissal in the home of one of the stooges ‘used’ to plot his dismissal.
The sources said barely 24 hours after his announced expulsion, his official vehicle and office were taken over by a retired officer who was one of the ‘coup makers’.
President Mills’s golden boy - Stanislav Dogbe - cannot account for a cash of GH¢169,000.00 (¢1.69 billion) he admits to have personally received from the Principal Accountant of the Ministry of Information on December 21st, 2009 (three days to Christmas) to “enable me to carry out public education on the 2010 annual budget.” The budget had been read on November 18, 2009, over a month by the Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor.
This is the third time within a period of two years that the President Mills has publicly victimized public servants suspected either rightly or wrongly to have raised an alarm over government appointees involved in alleged corrupt practices and cannot account for the taxpayer’s money.
Our sources at the Presidency say Tourism Minister Zita Okaikoi has become the target of the powers that be at the seat of government, after she refused to defend Mr. Dogbe on several radio stations, though she was the Minister for Information when the said money was signed for and collected in a ‘Ghana Must Go’ travelling bag.
It would be recalled that the Mills Government caused the interdiction of a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Albert Anthony Ampong and Adim Odoom, a Principal Accountant of the same Ministry, after they exposed alleged corrupt practices by the then Sports Minister, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak.
After DAILY GUIDE broke the story that Mr. Dogbe had collected the cash of GH¢169,000 meant to educate the public on the national budget but used an undisclosed part of the money to buy Christmas hampers for some unnamed journalists, a number of pro-government media houses accused Agiri Barnor of being the source of the story.
Interestingly, President Mills was quick to sack Mr. Barnor but he is still rewarding Mr. Dogbe by keeping him as a special aide, though the latter has fumbled in explaining what he used the money for, prompting widespread calls for his dismissal.
A clear instance was when Mr. Dogbe claimed he had given part of the GH¢169,000 cash to the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), only for the association’s president, Lloyd Evans to openly come out that his association had never received any money from Mr. Dogbe for any reason at any given period.


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Halifax Ansah-Addo is a Ghanaian journalist living and working in Accra. Currently, he is Editor of THE PUBLISHER (www.thepublisheronline.com), a private-owned Ghanaian newspaper with nationwide circulation in the country. He attended the African University College of Communications in Accra and an alumnus of the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), Berlin, Germany. He was awarded the 2015 Best Entertainment Journalist/Writer at the GN Bank Awards. Halifax writes on politics, human rights, arts and social issues. He is a Christian.

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