Smarttys bus branding: Contract awarded before procurement process; A-G recommended prosecution

Smarttys bus branding: Contract awarded before procurement process; A-G recommended prosecution
Source: Ghana||
Date: 16-05-2016 Time: 07:05:18:am

OccupyGhana says it is heading back to court to challenge the Attorney-General's refusal to release a document on the ₵3.6m controversial bus branding deal.

A leading member of the pressure group, Ace Ankomah says this document contains the A-G’s recommendation that some key officials involved in the deal be prosecuted.

After initially declining disclosure, the A-G’s department caved in to pressure from legal actions demanding the release of all documents relating to the branding of 116 public buses. All the documents, except one, have been released.

Already, the documents released by the A-G revealed that the decision to hand Smarttys, a contract to brand 116 buses for ₵3.6m was an “extremely corrupt transaction”.

Even before the 15th July 2015 letter from the Transport Ministry inviting Smarttys to submit quotations for branding the buses, the buses had already been branded by the same company.

The Transport ministry was only doing the paperwork to legitimize the illegal deal after the fact, the documents show.

Transport ministry had also written the Public Procurement Authority requesting that it approves Smarttys as the company solely sourced for the branding buses.

Ace Ankomah says if the PPA has done basic checks such as inspecting the buses to be branded, it would have clearly known that the deed had been done.

“…it would have discovered that the Ministry was lying and that the branding had been concluded, illegally” Ace Ankomah said on facebook.

The lawyer also says a simple check on the prices quoted by Smarttys would have established that the contract sum had been inflated. Yet the PPA says it did a “thorough job” in approving the request.

OccupyGhana says the last jigsaw to the puzzle is the set of actions recommended by the Attorney-General including the prosecution of officials.

Photo: Justice Minister and Attorney-General Marrietta Brew Oppong-Appiah

These actions contained in a separate document was not released to the pressure group which is hungry for more details.

It will not hesitate to go to court to compel the Attorney-General to release this document it deems vital, the lawyer signaled.

According to Ace Ankomah, although it does not have a copy of the A-G’s recommendation, it has knowledge that the A-G had pushed for the prosecution of top government officials at the Transport Ministry and Public Procurement Authority.

Already the Transport minister Dzifa Attivor resigned in December 2015 after the controversy became public.

The Chief Executive of the PPA Samuel Sellas Mensah also signed the approval letter permitting the Ministry to engage Smarttys.

Ace Anokmah revealed that Occupy Ghana will go to court to demand that the Attorney-General begin criminal prosecution of top officials in the deal. If the Attorney-General refuses the prosecute, she will be obliged by law to state the reasons why the tool of prosecution has been laid down.

Occupy Ghana says it will also go to court to demand that the contract be abrogated despite being already implemented.

He referred to the Government contract protection Act that stipulates that as much as three times the contract sum must be refunded in case an illegality has been established.  Culpable individuals in the deal cannot also be imprisioned for 10 years.

Ace Ankomah says exacting full abrogation of the contract and punishment for corrupt officials is the way to go because “paying taxes is painful”.