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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Agyenim-Boateng's claims on Rawlings residence mischievous - Herbert Mensah

Mr Herbert Mensah and Mr Rawlings
Mr Herbert Mensah and Mr Rawlings

A close confidante of the Rawlingses, Mr Herbert Mensah has described as “inaccurate, offensive and misleading” claims by Deputy Information Minister James Agyenim-Boateng that while former President accepted to stay in a bungalow offered by the state, Mrs Rawlings rejected the facility .

Mr Mensah said the bungalow in question, occupied by Mr Francis Poku, former National Security Co-ordinator under president Kufuor, was inappropriate.

Mr Agyenim-Boateng was reacting to Mrs Rawlings’ assertion that she and her husband, after their ridge residence on February 14, this year, was razed by fire, were still looking for accommodation to rent because the government had yet to fulfill its promise to resettle the former First Family in the wake of the disaster.

“Indeed we have tried to provide the former First Family with accommodation that is befitting, that can reasonably guarantee their safety and security pending renovation works on their Ridge residence which [got] burnt down.”

Mr Agyenim-Boateng said they were first offered a residence at the AU Village, which is “pretty close to their burnt residence” as a holding place for them but they “turned down” the offer.

The residence of the former National Security Coordinator, Francis Poku, was refurbished to befit their status, and yet, it was rejected.

"We felt that it was reasonably safe and secure for holding a former president and his spouse. The place was prepared to befit their status in terms of their safety and their security. Again the former President did like the place but the former First Lady did not like the place, based on that, it was turned down," the Deputy Minister said.

But Mr Herbert Mensah told Joy News that Agyenim-Boateng’s views on the matter were warped and based on third-hand information.

Myjoyonline Ghana News Photos |
James Agyenim-Boateng, Deputy Information Minister
“There [has been] a number of conversations [on the subject] of which I was a part of, most of them myself, he [the minister] was not, so I think he is picking up third-hand information,” Mr Mensah said.

He said the suggestion of the AU Village as alluded to by Agyenim-Boateng was a non-starter, “I think that it is common sense to anybody, that from a security view point as well as the controversy that exist because of the basis upon which it was built and subject to investigation, it would be totally inappropriate for the former president to reside there.”

On Francis Poku’s former residence, the football administrator said contrary to the Deputy Information Minister’s claims, “former president Rawlings never, never, I repeat never ever said that he would stay there and that the problem was Mrs Rawlings. I think that is inaccurate, it’s offensive, and it is wrong and it is misleading.”

According to Mr Mensah the rejection of Francis Poku’s residence by the Rawlingses was based purely on security reasons because “the person who was there was a security capo in the previous government. They believed that it was inappropriate for a number of other personal reasons and they made that known at all times.”

“Not at any point in time did President Rawlings say that he was happy to stay there and she was the one who said she was not happy to stay there,” he empahsised.

Mr Mensah commended some officers at the office of the Chief of Staff, whom he said had been collaborating with the Rawlingses to find a lasting solution to the issue.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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