Commissioner of Customs, Col Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd) has denied allegations of inciting officers to embark on strike in demand for delayed promotion.

The paramilitary organisation which belongs to the Operational Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority in July embarked on a sit-down strike.

The Commissioner says though his office is fighting for the welfare of officers, strike is not an option for him.

“Why on earth will a military officer, Commissioner Customs, incite custom officers to go on strike? That will be the last thing that I will do. But I will fight for their right. That is my duty to do as a Commissioner of Customs,” he said.

He made these comments at the Customs Division Management Retreat in Kumasi.

The sit-down strike which lasted hours affected operations at the country’s entry points.

The Kotoka International Airport and its Cargo Terminal were grounded to a halt due to the strike.

According to Col Damoah (Rtd), there is evidence showing some officers are deemed for promotion but have been denied.

However, he did not do anything to encourage the officers to lay down their tools.

“If my officers are denied promotion and I say it, and I give evidence to show why they should be given promotion. And it happens that the Staff Association come up with things and that coincide with my aspirations and what I have demanded, does it mean I have incited them to go on strike?” he quizzed.

Col Damoah (Rtd) revealed that after taking over office in 2019, there have been several attempts to discredit his personality.

“Right from October 2019, these publications have been going on. They said I have attained the age of 60 years, I should go. Then the President gave me a contract for three years. When the three years came to an end, it was not being renewed, you might have heard? Party people were even appealing to His Excellency, the President to give me another contract. The law permits His Excellency, the President to give two-two-one up to 65.”

“At the time His Excellency, the President was appointing me Commissioner of Customs, I was almost hitting sixty. I have been board member for the years and His Excellency, the President and all those who matter had my CV, indicating my date of birth.”

He reiterated his readiness to stand trial over any alleged wrongdoings.

The Labianca allegation fight-back

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Customs has cast doubt on the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s claims of corruption against some of its officials in the case of Labianca Company.

The Special Prosecutor recovered an amount of ¢1.074 million from the company owned by a member of the Council of State, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh.

The OSP contended that Ms Asomah-Hinneh used her position as a member of the Council and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of GRA.

A Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei was also cited by the OSP for issuing what it described as an unlawful customs advance ruling.

This, according to the report, reduced the benchmark values of the goods imported by Labianca Limited translating to reduced tax obligations of the company to the state.

Speaking at the Customs Division Management Retreat at Kumasi, the Commissioner of Customs, Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd) insists the report of the Special Prosecutor was released with malicious intent.

Col Damoah (Rtd) believes it was meant to discredit the Customs officers adding that the OSP “is trying to indict the deputy and myself.”

“And anyone of you who has read that report, very well, will know the basis of that.”

According to him, prior to the release of the report, there were unsuccessful attempts to dishonor his name.

He suspects that this action emanated from his [Col Damoah’s] refusal to allow one Mr. Akrugu to second Kissi Agyebeng’s office.

“He wanted Mr Akrugu to be seconded to his office and I said ‘no’, Mr Akrugu is a customs officer, primarily employed to do customs work. And he is to partner Mr. Akoto Fakyin in that office, Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”

He further said, “I am ready for any prosecution, that is what you must be doing, not to say, if you do further investigations up to 2017. Up to 2015, I had debtors written by Deputy Commissioner, Sandra Agorhu granting similar things and I produced them when he called me.”

“Don’t disgrace me, don’t hide behind people for your own failures and incompetency and deal with me,” he stressed.