A United States-based Chemical Engineer, Dr. Michael Gyamerah, has accused the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission of colluding with some chiefs in the Volta Region to dupe the government of millions of cedis.
Dr. Gyamerah, Associate Professor who gave the mind-blowing testimony yesterday at the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts, said his research had revealed that a whopping 15 million Ghana cedis might have been lost in the compensation claim by the chiefs in the areas flooded by the Volta River.
He told Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal that the chiefs formed an Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants' chaired by Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III, and through the association, about 9 million Ghana cedis had already been disbursed.
He said he sighted a letter written by the chiefs and endorsed by the Land Valuation Division where the Lands Commission was to facilitate the release of the funds which came in tranches and were slashed.
Dr. Gyamerah said the 'facilitation' in the letter to ensure 'early, expeditious and timely' release of the funds was a classic case of bribery adding, "It was an orchestrated attempt by the Lands Commission and those involved to defraud the state."
He said the association was formed ostensibly to serve as a conduit to siphon 15% of over 130 million Ghana cedis, which was the 'full and final settlement of compensation claims for lands compulsorily acquired and were flooded as a result of the construction of the Ako- sombo Hydro Electric Dam.'
"The payment made to a 'VL Reimbursable Fund' under the control of the Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants constituted 15% of compensation money meant for fellow citizens of Ghana, impoverished as a result of losing their land and property following the construction of the dam," Dr. Gyamerah noted.
The witness said that his research revealed that the chiefs of Pai Traditional Area, led by one Nana Diawuo Bediako II – who he said is known in private life as Atta Kwasi – reportedly 'connived' with a firm called Kwadwo Ababio & Co to submit fake documents to push for the payments.
"Apparently, the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission did not research the Pai Traditional Area; and either inadvertently or through gross negligence, aided and abetted the payment of large sums of Ghana's taxpayer's money to the Association of VR Flooded Lands Compensation Claimants," he pointed out.
He said the recipients of the claims squandered the huge sums, even though the Pai traditional authorities clearly indicated that the funds were not for their personal use saying.
Dr. Gyamerah said communities including Pai, Apaso, Otiso and Supon deserved compensation.
In the case of Otiso, he said his research showed that the Land Valuation Division failed to research the tradition of the town and through gross negligence, aided and abetted the payment of over GHc 280,000 to an Otiso chief who was not entitled to it but falsely claimed that stool lands were his personal property.
He added that in the case of Pai, only four people, including his own brother called Bob Kwame, were claiming compensation for the whole area.
He said there was documentary evidence that 60% of the first tranche payment was made to the Surveyor (Kwadwo Ababio & Co) as consultation fee, although the attached spreadsheet showed that a 10% valuation fee based on the total compensation, was to be paid to the Surveyor adding, "the Surveyor's fee alone, based on the total compensation, will amount to GHC 13,833,606.80."
He said documents showing signatures of Nana Diawuo Bediako II, representing Pai Traditional Area were completely different from that on the Land Valuation Board Pay Voucher and the letter from JSA Corporate & Legal Consult to the Executive Secretary of Lands Valuation Board, stating that 60% of the-first tranche compensation payment be made to the Surveyor.
He said the direct result of those compensation payment claims spearheaded by the Krachiwura, had increased tension and litigation in the Pai area, especially Pai and Otiso.
"It should be obvious that compensation money paid to individuals who lied to the government, despite protestations of people of the area affected, will eventually end up causing the GoG financial loss when legal action is brought against it. Therefore, the good people of Ghana should demand an investigation of this self- appointed group, and the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission," he urged.