The brouhaha surrounding the contractual details of the recently commissioned Rattray Park in Kumasi has assumed a disturbing dimension, as reports have emerged that the Ashanti Regional headquarters of the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) failed to expedite action on a petition presented to it by some Assembly members. This has raised concerns about the amount of money being spent on the project.
The Chronicle is informed that some concerned members of the assembly wrote a petition to EOCO, calling on the state economic crime agency to investigate the alleged discrepancies on the part of the head of the assembly, as far as the Rattray Park and other projects being undertaking by the KMA were concerned.
The paper has obtained details about how the Assembly member for Abusuakruwa, Maxwell Ofosuh, together with another members, made strenuous efforts to ensure accountability by calling on EOCO to intervene, by putting a brake on the alleged lavish expenditure with respect to the construction of the Park, as well as another project at Kumasi Academy Senior High School (KUMACA).
But it appears either personnel at EOCO failed to act expeditiously or were indifferent to the concerns raised by the two Assembly members, resulting in the ongoing controversies in the assembly over how much was expended by the MCE, Mr. Kojo Bonsu and his executives.
The EOCO, formally known as Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is a state agency mandated to investigate allegations of financial malfeasance within state institutions and also handle all forms of financial crimes, including money laundering and organized crime.
The KMA, as a state institution, is one such body, which falls under the jurisdiction of the EOCO, but the office is being accused of shirking its responsibility, leading to what some assembly members described as arbitrary expenditure on the part of the KMA Boss.
Hon. Maxwell Ofosuh and some worried members of the House have begun a crusade to get the KMA Boss to make public details of the contractual agreement covering the construction of the Park. He told The Chronicle in an interview that he is not happy at the way EOCO treated him and his colleagues, as far as their petition was concerned, stressing that the constitutionally mandated body has failed the assembly.
The aggrieved assembly member told the paper that somewhere last year, they notified the regional office of EOCO about certain irregularities in the contractual sum of the two projects, which had been initiated by the KMA Boss, without prior approval by the assembly.
According to him, they demanded the intervention of the EOCO for two main reasons, including the fact that the project, which was ongoing at KUMACA did not have the approval of the House, and secondly because the MCE had on behalf of the assembly procured certain items; including a fountain for the private construction firm which was embarking on the Rattray project.
He said additionally, Mr. Kojo Bonsu presented a budget of GH¢ 840,000 as cost for the construction of a fence wall for the project, when the House officially approved GH¢ 350,000 for the fencing.
Maxwell Ofosuh argued that under the procurement system, it is wrong for KMA to use its authority to procure items on behalf of a private entity, which has secured a contract (despite the fact the contractual sum is still unknown) on behalf of the assembly.
“We all know that when KMA as a body imports items to the country for projects, it is exempted from taxes and other duties, so on what basis should Mr. Kojo Bonsu use the name of KMA to procure items for a private contractor,” he queried. He said aside that, the MCE was under obligation to present before the house for approval, the additional GH 500,000 expenditure which was incurred as a result of the construction of the fence wall.
“Kojo Bonsu told the public openly during his address that he spent GH¢ 850,000 on the fence wall, even there is so much dispute about how a whopping sum of that sort could be expended on a simple fence wall, but aside that he was supposed to present a supplementary budget for approval,” he argued.
He said it was for these reasons that they petitioned the EOCO, hoping that the agency would intervene and properly ensure that the right thing was done. The Assembly member recounted that one of the officials at the Regional Office of EOCO assured him that they had presented his grievances to the National Headquarters in Accra and even added that his superiors in Accra were very much interested in the case, hence the decision to transfer all documents to the national headquarters.
“One of the officers told us point blank that they didn’t want any interference from Kumasi, so they have been instructed to send the matter to Accra. On August 5, 2014, they gave us a letter to submit to Accra, which we did on the 7th of August, but after that we made several inquiries but did not get any response,” disturbed Maxwell Ofosuh lamented.
He said he was very disappointed in EOCO because in his view, they have let the people of Kumasi down. “If you ask me, I will say the EOCO has failed us big time; we presented clear evidence of discrepancies but it appears that they were not so much interested in the whole thing,” he lamented. The KMA Boss has on several occasions refused to give contractual details of the Rattray Project which was commissioned few weeks ago by the President John Dramani Mahama.