Haruna Iddrisu, Comfort Doyoe Ghansah and Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has finally submitted to the Attorney General (AG) the docket of all the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) ministers, who were allegedly caught in the double salary scandal, for advice.
The AG, according to sources, is studying the dockets and would soon take action on the issue which has generated heated political debate in recent times.
It’s emerging that the embattled former ministers, who are mostly opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) members, some of whom are still serving in the current parliament, are likely to face criminal prosecution.
Some of the former ministers investigated by the CID are Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, MP for Ellembelle and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum; Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, MP for Kpone Katamanso, who was the former Greater Accra Regional Minister, as well as former Minister of State in-Charge of Social and Allied Institutions; Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah, who is NDC MP for Ada East.
ABA Fuseini, NDC MP for Sagnerigu and former Deputy Minister, Northern Region, was also there to a write statement.
Others are Second Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Eric Opoku, who is NDC MP for Asunafo South and former Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister; Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, a former Minister of Transport and NDC MP for Ketu South; Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, a former Minister of State at the presidency and MP for Wa Central and Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, a former Central Regional Minister and former MP for Mfantseman West.
The rest are Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye, former Minister of Youth and Sports, who doubles as current opposition NDC MP for Odododiodioo; Alhassan Azong, former Minister of State in-charge of Public Sector Reforms and former People’s National Convention MP for Builsa South Constituency; as well as Dr. Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President John Mahama.
They were also at the CID Headquarters for interrogation.
Already, Special Prosecutor, Martin A.B.K. Amidu, has given his tacit support to the probe undertaken by the CID.
Mr. Amidu, who is a former Attorney General, gave the clearest indication recently on Citi FM when he said his former colleagues have fallen foul to the law and should not go unpunished.
“Indeed, that (double salary) is an offence of abuse of office for private gain,” he said without mincing words, before revealing that he also received double payments when he served as minister during the NDC government but added that he returned the excess money to the government.
The CID has said officially that the alleged double salaries saga “is contrary to Section 124 (1) of the Criminal and other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29), as amended in 2012 (Act 849). Section 124 relates to the offence of stealing.”
Some of the MPs allegedly involved were interrogated by the CID and granted police enquiry bail, but it’s unclear if the Special Prosecutor’s Office will be handling the case should the Attorney General’s Department decide to charge the culprits for court.
Some of the former ministers have admitted to collecting double pay while others claim it was a top up.
Strangely, the two salaries from Parliament and presidency handled by the Controller and Accountant General were paid into separate accounts raising questions about the ‘top up’ claim.
“Money was ever paid into my account. When my bank notified me, I told them to return it because that is not what me and the Attorney General agreed on,” he confirmed.
“I could have kept it. This is what they should have done,” Mr. Amidu had said.
“You don’t keep the money for six months, one year, two years or three years, you’ve left office, one and half years, you’ve not made any efforts to return it. Then when the CID begins seeing it now, you are rationalizing it and yet when the ordinary man takes plantain one bunch, he goes to jail for 15 years. So what is the political elite telling us?” the Special Prosecutor fired.
He did not agree with those who insist that the double payment to government appointees is an old age problem in the country, saying “if it’s been happening since 1992 and no one has seen it, now it has been seen; those responsible should bear the consequence.”
Conscience To Prosecute
Mr. Amidu said as Special Prosecutor, he would not have the conscience to prosecute ordinary Ghanaians if the double salary matter is not dealt with appropriately.
“Why should a Special Prosecutor be prosecuting ordinary Ghanaians and your honourables will be involved in these things then they will be talking to the president to wash it up. Then I have no need sitting here. I won’t even have the conscience to continue.”
He queried “will I have the conscience to prosecute any other body for corruption if the CID finds something prosecutable and are not allowed to prosecute because Members of Parliament are involved? That is not fair,” he added.
Pleading for Clemency
In the ensuing heat, some of the affected ex-ministers were said to be begging prominent traditional leaders in the country to intercede for them.
The NDC have always tried to water down the issue by claiming that it was salary ‘top-up’ but it emerged that most of them were taking two different pay slips from different state institutions at the same time.
The monthly pay slips were coming from the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB) and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) respectively.
The alleged double-salary issue, which the police have said amounts to stealing, was widespread and appeared to cut across all categories of appointees who served under former President John Mahama.
The whole scandal was triggered by an audit of the payroll data from the office of the President and Parliament from 2012 through 2016 and it showed that certain former ministers doubling as MPs who at various points also served as ministers or deputy ministers, received double salaries at least once a month or throughout the four-year tenure under review.
From 2012 to 2016 when the NDC was booted out of office, some of the appointees were captured in all the data collated as having received double salaries throughout the period.
By Melvin Tarlue