Trades Min. Alleged Extortionists Should Be Probed And Punished – PC

An Anti-Corruption Campaigner and former Member of Parliament (MP) for the Asikuma-Odoben Brakwa Constituency, Paul Collins Appiah Ofori has described the act of collecting monies from Expatriates by the Trade Ministry as a corrupt practice.

The Office of the President is expected to issue a statement later today on its position on the extortion of monies up to 100,000 dollars from the expatriate business community in the name of an awards event organised by the Trade Ministry recently.

PC Appiah Ofori has described the practice as a criminal offence and has therefore appealed to the president to get to the bottom of the matter.

It is a criminal offence and no one should go unpunished. if investigations prove that corrupt practices took place the president must take punitive action against the person,” he said to Prince Minkah on the XYZ Breakfast Show Morning Xpress.

The Trades Ministry has  however in a statement challenged the claims  and has said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event.

The statement was issued after the  Asawase legislator, Muntaka Mubarak, who first hinted about the extortion, disclosed that the fees charged at the event were not approved by Parliament, and that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.

The Sector Minister, Alan Kyeremateng on Wednesday,December,20, submitted reports on the expatriate extortion allegations as demanded by President Akufo-Addo.

It’s unclear what the response will be but the Millennium Excellence Foundation has already debunked the allegations.

Minority To Pursue Case
The minority in parliament has vowed to to pursue government’s alleged extortion of monies from the expats ahead of the recently held  Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA).

The issue on Tuesday led to a near brawl between former deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and deputy Trades Minister Carlos Ahenkora, at the full glare of journalists in Parliament.

XYZ News’ parliamentary correspondent Charles Akrofi reported that Mr. Ahenkora budged into an interview the North Tongu MP was granting  reporters and called him a pathological liar.

But commenting on the issue on the Morning Xpress Wednesday morning, the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak described the incident as unfortunate which will be looked into, but hastened they (minority) have evidence to pursue it in a non partisan manner.

“We need to look at it in a non partisan manner because  Parliament must wake up to its responsibility.We ought to put our partisan aside and try to develop our country,” Muntaka Mubarak said.

Mr. Muntaka reiterated that the Majority cannot get away with the issue when it resorts to the usage of abusive words on those calling for the matter to be investigated.

“As for the issue of payment, now it is beyond doubt because others have provide their receipts. Now the ministry has accepted that they collected the money, but how did they collect? How much they collect? did they really hand the monies to the organisers?” he asked and added that those questions need to be answered.

What About CHRAJ?

Meanwhile, anti-corruption campaigner and a former Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Vitus Azeem, has proffered that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG) should launch investigations into the alleged  extortion of monies from expatriate business owners in Ghana by some officials at the Presidency.

In an interview with News Wire on Monday, Vitus Azeem said for the issue to be treated as serious, those alleging should petition CHRAJ.

Talking of how to address it, I think CHRAJ should be looking into it if someone has made a complaint that this is what is happening. The politicians if they want to pursue this, they should gather their evidence and make a formal complaint. That will enable CHRAJ to investigate it on a more serious way,” he said.

Source: Ghana/ Xpres