The Deputy Minister for information, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, has said there is nothing wrong for him to report his predecessors for the Attorney General’s Department to charge them for court over the GH¢86,915.85 contract for renovation of the Ministry of Information building.
He also stated that there was nothing wrong with his outfit using GH¢36,000 in renovating his office which was part of the ministerial block that got burnt recently.
Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa made the statements when he was cross examined by Augustine Obuor, a lawyer for Frank Agyekum and Mr. Sampong, two of the accused persons in the case in which the former Minister for Information, Stephen Asamoah Boateng and seven others are standing trial for contravening the Procurement Act.
They allegedly did not follow due processes in awarding a contract amounting to GH¢86,915.85 to plexiform company for renovation works at the Ministry. Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa was asked, “Do you know you spent GH¢360 million to renovate your small single room office and that office was part of what Plexiform also renovated within the ministerial block for GH¢86,000 and yet you are in court to challenge that?”
In response he said, “Yes, I am aware but it is important to look at the detail description of both projects before comparing them.” Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa mentioned that the renovation of his office included provision of furniture, laptops, cabinet, carpet, ceiling and electrical works. Just before the deputy minister finished his statement, Justice Charles Quist, who observed that the issues were irrelevant to the matter before court, asked counsel to focus on the main reason for which they were in court.
Counsel further asked Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa whether he was aware that the procurement act gave an option for annulment of contracts if certain irregularities were found, and if so, why he as the complainant did not take that option to save the time of the court and that of the public on this matter.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa replied that the principle of the law was to eliminate corruption and check that due procedures were followed in awarding contracts in order not to give contracts to companies of choices. He was of the view that if contracts were annulled for reasons of irregularity, then it meant everybody could offend the law and go scot free.
He said in the current case, there were no meetings, minutes or anything to show that it followed the proper channel so he did not see why he should conform to that part of the law.
When asked that “You don’t know what went into the contract, do you?” he replied in the affirmative, adding that “I was informed about it and had document to support that no proper procedure was followed.
There was a little drama at the court when the Chief State Attorney, Anthony Gyanbiby asked the defence team to define what they meant by holding brief for their colleagues. Some of them had told the court they were holding brief for other colleagues such as Atta Akyea, Nene Amegatse and Thadeus Sory who could not make to the court.
According to Mr. Gyambiby, the lawyers usually said this but in actual sense were unable to do any work for their colleagues. “Holding brief is holding brief. Counsel should tell us they are holding limited brief for their colleague than to hold their chest out confidently to say they are holding brief for others when they are unable to even cross-examine witnesses”.
Mr. Egbert Faibille, who did not take this remark kindly, hit back, asking the prosecutor to speak with decorum as the state attorneys also did the same and by their action end up infringing on the rights of accused persons who were languishing in jail.Mr. Faibille told the state attorney that “if you have a slim chest, then it is your own problem”, attracting spontaneous laughter in the courtroom.
The case has been adjourned to October 26.
Source: Daily Guide