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Monday, March 29, 2010

Ghana: Upper East Regional Minister Mark Wayongo in court for fraud

Upper East Regional Minister, Mark Wayongo
Upper East Regional Minister, Mark Wayongo

Two employees of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council have filed a writ against the Regional Minister for fraudulently awarding contracts to his nephew.

Ibrahim Yahaya and Sumaila Abubakari claim Mr Mark Woyongo awarded a contract with a value of over a million Ghana Cedis to his nephew in contravention of procurement procedures.

They want the Bolgatanga High Court to declare the award of the contract null and void.

According to them, the minister published the contract a month after he had already awarded it to his nephew. That for them, was meant to cover up the shady deals of the minister.

Lawyer for the two, Seidu Douglas, told Joy News the minister was in position of conflict of interest because “he awarded the contract to himself by giving it to his nephew....he knew that the contract was going to his nephew.”

He said as part of the frantic efforts by Mr Wayongo to cover up his criminal conduct, he clandestinely interdicted two workers at the RCC.

“In the letter of interdiction, they say that the people have leaked [confidential] documents when indeed these letters you gave to the contractors were public documents because you copied several other people. [How] can you turn around and blame somebody in the office for the leakage of a document you have already sent to the public?, Mr. Douglas asked.

The two interdicted employees say they are contemplating legal action if they are not recalled by next week.

One of them, Rosaline Akanwa, told Joy News she was accused of leaking letters she typed as the secretary at the RCC, meant for distribution to contractors.

“They awarded some contracts and as the secretary I typed the letters and we sent the letters to the various contractors, about a week ago they came and said some letters were in circulation and they are suspecting myself and the records officer because we are in charge of confidential letters,”

She said subsequently, she and her other colleague were given queries “and [when] we answered the queries, they said they were not satisfied with the queries, and gave us interdiction letters a week after.”

Ms Akankwa said they were told they would be invited for questioning but nothing had been heard for about a week now.

The Regional Minister admitted awarding the contract to his nephew but insisted the process was fair and transparent and satisfied all procurement regulations.

“My nephew has been a contractor since 1988 and he tended for the job, it was assessed, they did their evaluation and the tender committee awarded the job to him. It would be ridiculous to say because he is my nephew, he shouldn’t be given a job,”he said.

Mr Wayongo denied the charge that he advertised the contract after awarding it to his nephew. He said there were two different contracts all together but his accusers were mixing them up.

He also denied any heavy-handedness in interdicting two employees of the RCC, saying their interdiction was done in accordance with civil service procedures.

“There is every indication that the information was leaked from the Regional Economic Planning Officer’s office so the chief director asked that the two should step aside for investigations to commence”, he said.

Related to this, a group calling itself the Coalition for the Welfare of the Masses in Bolgatanga has challenged Mr Woyongo to produce documentary proof that he indeed advertised the contract in question before awarding it to his nephew.

According to the spokesperson of the group, the regional minister had been brazenly violating procurement laws in the region.

He claimed he had a tall list of contracts that had been awarded under the watch of Mr Wayongo in clear contravention of procurement procedures.

While he was due to address the media, a group of youth believed to be Mr Wayongo’s loyalists stormed the venue and scuttled everything.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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