ILAPI Boss Accuses High Court of Deliberately Preventing CHRAJ from Investigating $178M KELNI GVG Contract

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Executive Director for policy think tank, Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI—Ghana), Mr. Peter Bismark Kwofiie has expressed disappointment in the Accra High Court over its failure to pave way for the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to start with the probe into the controversial Kelni GVG saga.

Speaking in an interview with Kwabena Agyapong on Frontline on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm, he said the action of the court has dragged the investigation they demanded from CHRAJ some six months ago.

He indicated that ILAPI in February this year presented a petition before CHRAJ demanding a probe into the contract which was estimated at $178 million.

He said the case was pending in court but the case was over however; the court has failed to write officially to CHRAJ to start their probe.

According to him, ILAPI has followed up on the matter but from what they have gathered, the High Court is preventing CHRAJ to investigate the matter.

‘The High Court has become an obstacle to CHRAJ in probing the matter. CHRAJ is only seeking a letter from the court to start with their probe, he said.

He told the host that ‘from what has happened so far, the entire contract was fishy and was fraught with a number of corrupt deals before it was awarded.’

Meanwhile, he says despite the interest in probing the matter, CHRAJ is gradually losing steam.

To him, CHRAJ could use other means to ensure they get the green light to probe the matter.

Background

ILAPI through its Executive Director, Peter Bismark Kwofie in February this year petitioned CHRAJ to probe the matter in pursuance of the public law objectives established under Article 41(f) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (“the Constitution”) which empowers all citizens to take steps to combat the misuse of public funds as a public duty, especially in the spirit of Article 35(8), which proscribes practices contributory to abuse of power.

Mr. Kwofie took the action triggering the powers of CHRAJ under Article 218 (a) & (b) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 7 (1) (a) & (b) of Act 456.

The ILAPI boss in his petition to CHRAJ alluded to the fact that the decision to award the Common Monitoring Platform (CMP) contract to the joint venture of Kelni and Global Voice Group (“KelniGVP”) by the Ministry of Communications, and the collusion of various state agencies – most notably, the Central Tenders Review Committee, Public Procurement Authority, and National Communications Authority – manifests: a) abuse of office; b) maladministration; c) unsound public administration; and d) conflict of interest.

The basis of the complaint was that the CMP procurement processes were rigged to enable collusive bidding, thereby predetermining the outcome in favour of the KelniGVG bid and that this conduct amounts to an abuse of office, malfeasance, maladministration, conflict of interest and acts preparatory to the facilitation of corruption. We shall provide facts already in the public domain to support this position and urge CHRAJ to conduct detailed, further, investigations of the sort warranted by the sheer amounts of public funds involved – $178 million.

The Ministry of Communications (MoC) contracted Kelni-GVG Limited to implement the Common Platform project to provide a more accurate method of electronically monitoring communication traffic volumes on a real-time basis.

The US $178 million contracts with Kelni- GVG will also serve as a basis for both the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to calculate taxes and government revenue, which was not accurately calculated by the previous system.

Furthermore, the Platform will have the capability to do sim-box fraud tracking with a geolocation system to pinpoint the exact location of fraudsters using sim-box locators to enable their arrest and confiscation of equipment.

It will also enable the government to have more visibility on the actual volumes and values of mobile money transactions, not just for revenue assurance but also for anti-money laundering and anti-crime and terrorist funding, all of which the previous platforms did not have.

But it was the case of ILAPI that the $178 million contracts contained an automatic renewal clause for 60 months and there are reports that payments have been initiated prior to actual work commencing. The requirement for Parliamentary ratification of multi-year contracts under the Law was clearly ignored to deny Parliament its say in this massive dissipation of public funds.

ILAPI further argued that the entire procurement process, in its wanton disregard for law and laid down procedures for sound procurement, was a sham, fraudulent, corrupt and a consummate spectacle of abuse of office.

The petition also expressing confidence in CHRAJ saying: “in presenting this complaint, Sir, we are encouraged by your office’s strong commitment to its mandate and confident in your ability to investigate this matter thoroughly, dispassionately and in a rigorous fashion in order to uncover all the facts relevant to these matters. We are also highly confident in your capacity to apply just remedies to rectify the abuses that have occurred and thereby save this country the huge amounts of money involved once you have satisfied yourself of the propriety of doing so after uncovering the salient facts in respect of these matters. We thank you and your team for your time.”

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