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Myjoyonline 2017 big stories

As the year 2017 ends, myjoyonline.com presents big stories that dominated the headlines during the 365 days under review.

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January 2017

Pro-democracy groups would feel a bitter-sweet month of January as Parliament failed to pass the age-old Right to Information Bill as the House was dissolved January 6.

But a successful transition the following day saw Ghana achieve its record 7th successive elections and third peaceful handover of power under the Fourth Republic.

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The sweet news of hand over did not hang around for long as the government was soon faced with angry NPP youth who would go on a rampage as they tried to take over and lock up state institutions.

The January 9 beginning of vigilantism would plague the NPP government for virtually the entire year. For the NPP, the lawlessness was at a stark variance as the political party likes everyone to believe it upholds the rule of law.

President Akufo-Addo would go on to name his first 13 minister-designates in a way that was a departure from the previous style. He had them sit in a conference room at the Flagstaff House and mention their names. He would explain his reasoning behind his choice and like lottery winners, the appointees would stand next to the President beaming – obviously.

After disappointing pro-democracy groups and journalists for failing to pass the RTI bill, Parliament disappointed Ghanaians as the House was hit by a bribery scandal.

Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga claimed Energy minister-designate Boakye  Agyarko paid GHÈ»3,000 each to the Minority members of the Appointments Committee in order to approve him without any further resistance.

February

President Akufo-Addo’s first budget to fix the economy plans to abolish or review over 15 different taxes. Deceptive, populist and unsustainable that’s how the opposition National Democratic Congress describes.

Two Ghanaians who fled Ghana got to the US illegally later attempted to run away to Canada to escape Trump. They have both lost their fingers in the process of walking through acres of snow.                 

After two days of expose on Public Utilities Regulatory Commission’s expenditures, the Executive Secretary explained irregular payments into his personal accounts which are in violation of the Financial Act. Mr. Samuel Sarpong said the close to half a million cedis for the major tariff review public hearings paid into his personal accounts were done on the advice of his former head of finance.       

March

Social media found worth its fleeting, fluid time, the English-speaking predicament of a debutant in parliament, MP for Akwatia, Ama Sey. At an event in Akwatia she demonstrated her low level of English proficiency.

March also saw an upsurge in reports on suicide beginning with deaths at Ashiaman and Affram Plains. It would go on in several communities feeding a national conversation on the subject.

Member of Parliament for Bawku central, Mahama Ayariga found in contempt of parliament for failing to provide evidence of bribery against the energy minister and some members of the appointment committee. But Mahama Ayariga apology was not without drama. The Joe Ghartey led five-member committee found the Member of Parliament for Bawku central, MahamaAyariga of contempt of parliament.

There was also a new president of the Confederation of African football, Ahmad Ahmad, who made history after defeating CAF boss Issa Hayatou – a feat widely unexpected in the CAF presidential election. Madagascar’s Mr Ahmad claimed 34 votes while IssaHayatou secured 20 votes. The unprecedented victory for Ahmad Ahmad ends IssaHayatou’s 29 years reign as president of Africa’s football federation.

Also pulling through elections is GFA’s President Kwesi Nyantakyi who was elected to the FIFA executive council.

Some members of a self-styled security force affiliated with the governing NPP attacked the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator late Friday morning to physically hound him out of office. The group known as Delta Force says it cannot work with George Agyei because he was 'not part of the struggle' to wrestle power from the NDC during the December 2016 general elections.

A 25-year-old female employee of the Marwako Restaurant in Accra has been allegedly assaulted by a Lebanese supervisor Jihad Chabaan for fidgeting with a blender and working slowly.

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April

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo named 212 persons to fill the Chief Executive positions of the various MMDAs across the country.

Three sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) and a former MP have been cited by the British authorities for allegedly perpetrating visa fraud using their diplomatic passports.

The MPs are said to have used an unauthorized person (a goro boy) and their diplomatic passports to apply for visas for persons who traveled to the United Kingdom and did not return as stipulated by their visas.

 

May

More agitations over recent appointment of District Chief executives as youth in Volta and Brong Ahafo regions protest appointments

Attorney-General dropped its case against eight members of pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) vigilante group, Delta Force, who allegedly stormed the Kumasi Circuit Court and freed some of their members who were standing trial

Attorney General launched investigations into how state attorneys cited lack of evidence leading to the discharge of 8 delta force members discharged by a Kumasi court today.

Fall armyworm invasion gets the Agric Ministry to establish a special taskforce to deal with Armyworm invasion on farms across the country.

The Northern Regional chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Bugri Naabu went berserk scuttling a meeting being held by the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Otiko Afisa Djaba.

Madam Otiko Djaba has accused Daniel Bugri Naabu of receiving bribes whilst he accuses her of being complicit in a murder case.

It led to a war of words running into days until an NPP meeting to resolve the matter ended with an apology from the minister.

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The biggest story in May was the lynching of army captain Maxwell Mahama at Denkyira Obuasi in the Central region.

The country was thrown into shock. In their bid to find the perpetrators the military led by Chief of Army Staff Major-General William Ayamdoh has been rounding up as many as 80 people.

 

June

The Majority in Parliament called for forensic, 'high-profile' investigations into the operations of Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) as controversial 5million litres of contaminated fuel saga degenerates into partisan politics. 

Government put on hold, the implementation of the law that mandates vehicle owners to pay an annual mandatory towing levy. 

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Joseph Opoku Siaw's company Road Safety Management Limited (RSML) had been awarded the contract to do the work

From July 1, 2017, vehicle owners and motorcyclists will pay compulsory annual fees, depending on tonnage, range from È»20 to È» 200. Critics said that even national health insurance scheme is not mandatory.

 

July

President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo in an encounter with selected media personnel responded to a plethora of questions ranging from Security of the state, the provision of jobs, corruption, much talked about Free SHS policy, all the way to the Economy. He also responded to issues about his lack of control of the reins of government and his inability to deal with vigilante groups within his party.

The government set up a 400-strong joint security taskforce deployed to the Ashanti, Eastern and Western region in the first phase dubbed Operation Vanguard. Government is counting on the security agencies to bring to end activities of illegal mining said to be responsible for the destruction of water bodies and the environment.

Over several days, social media platforms have been buzzing with tweets and chats about a special offering announced by the ICGC’s Greater Works conference in Accra. The offerings considered seeds of blessing have labels including “millionaire’s status” and “seeds of blessing”.

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MP for Dome Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo, has been subjected to relentless trolling on social media for claiming a school built in her constituency was through her personal efforts.

The Deputy Majority Leader in a video that went viral on social media claimed that she lobbied the World Bank to fund the construction of a community day senior high school sited in her constituency.

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay tells diasporans to stop ‘whining’ about things not working in Ghana.

“Nobody likes whiners, people that spend all the time whining really get on people’s nerves so stop whining,” the Deputy Minister said at the Diaspora Homecoming Summit at the Accra International Conference Centre.

A group, calling itself concerned workers of the Electoral Commission (EC) have petitioned the President and the Chief Justice to begin impeachment processes against the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei.

 

August

A-Plus made several allegations of fraud and corruption against the Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Francis Asenso-Boakye and Abu Jinapor. The Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin confirmed the police CID has taken over investigations into the corruption allegations.

An uneasy calm has returned to Togo following parallel protests in the capital Lome and neighboring town Sokode with residents fleeing their homes, leaving the town deserted. Security has since been beefed up after Saturday’s demonstrations against the 50-year rule of the Gnassingbe family. This resulted in the reported killing of seven persons and several injuries. 

A public health concern looms in Volta region town of Kpando as four persons are reported dead and ten others on admission at the Margaret Marquart Catholic Hospital, after reportedly consuming poisonous fish. The Food and Drugs Authority said preliminary tests on the fish samples have confirmed they are poisonous.

The NDC Minority side staged the first official walk out of this new parliament. The Minority members were angry at what they claim to be the speaker’s bias and deliberate attempt to gag them.

Deputy Agriculture Minister William Quaitoo resigned after he was accused of making ethnic comments against people from the north.

The Akufo-Addo government announced it will no longer implement a plan to charge motorists a compulsory levy for towing services.

 

September

President Akufo-Addo launched the free senior high school policy aimed at offering free access to secondary school education in the country. More than 400,000 Ghanaian students placed in senior high schools across the country will have their fees borne by government.

A four-year-old girl who was allegedly defiled by a member of her community at Assin Adadiemtem in the Central region. The story sparked national outrage. Even as police have arrested a young man in connection with the crime, stories of such sexual assaults continue to abound in the community.

In a separate development, a Wa circuit court began hearing a case of a headmaster who defiled a 10-year-old girl on three occasions.

A shed under which fans of Bastie sit was allegedly burnt by Banku's supporters. This follows Bastie Samir’s defeat of maverick boxer Braimah Kamoko with a Round 7 Technical Knockout on Saturday.

Supreme Court gives state officials green light to continue valuation of properties of businessman Alfred AgbesiWoyome as it dismisses his motion challenging the legality of the exercise.

President Akufo-Addo says he expects a drastic reduction in the cost of doing business and the formalization of Ghana's economy in the coming days following the launch of the National Digital Property Addressing System. The addressing system, according to the president, is also expected to revive collapsed businesses and make them viable.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Head office in Accra as workers celebrate the exit of their boss. Today the workers showed up in white outfits expressing joy about the termination of the appointment of Executive Secretary, Samuel Sarpong after the workers called for his removal.

 

October

A huge explosion at Atomic Junction, close to the busy Madina Zongo Junction in Accra. Images taken meters from the explosion show a huge ball of fire towering into the Saturday night sky. Traffic on the main Accra Central to Aburi road has been diverted as firefighters battle the raging fire.

Party over country? Ghana’s High Commissioner to South Africa, George Ayisi Boateng came under intense backlash for comments suggesting NPP supporters are more Ghanaian. He made the comments at a meeting of the Tertiary Education Students’ Conference (TESCON) in Kumasi Technical University.

The President will not sack Ghana’s High Commissioner to South Africa, George Ayisi-Boateng, despite calls by a section of the public for him to do so.

Photo: George Ayisi Boateng

 

November

Hundreds of Ghanaian migrants who were rescued from Libya have appealed to the government to assist them with viable jobs that can sustain them.  Over 160 of them detained in Libya were expected back home after government facilitated their release from the Libyan authorities.

Parliament summons Roads and Highways Minister to respond to questions on the inconveniences caused following the closure of the Buipe-Yapei Bridge for maintenance. There was confusion among hundreds of stranded commuters and drivers. The only ferry at Yeji which takes only nine vehicles at a time has come under a lot of pressure following the closure of the Buipe and Yapei bridges.

The Judicial Council is expected to set-up a committee to probe the alleged abuse of power and corruption scandal that has rocked the Electoral Commission. The action against the EC officials was started by a petition sent to the presidency by a private legal practitioner Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang.

The President told Aljazeera's Jane Dutton that the act remains illegal but pressure calling for change could provoke action. Government rules out any possibility of legalizing homosexuality insisting it is unacceptable following criticisms President Akufo-Addo appears open to amending Ghana’s laws to make the act legal.

Government presents its second budget dubbed 'adwuma' budget. Just like the title of the document, government is hoping to create opportunities and prosperity for an army of unemployed youth whose future looks bleak and hopeless because they are idle and wonders where the next meal will come from.

There are scenes of wild jubilation across Zimbabwe’s capital Harare following President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s decision to step down. The surprised announcement made by the speaker of parliament halts the impeachment proceedings in the House against the 93-year-old Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years.

From the violence of land guards to incessant robbery attacks, the woes of residents of kasoa and its environs are deepening as another lady was last night raped, killed and left in a pool of blood. The deceased, a receptionist in her mid-twenties, was on duty at a guesthouse only fit for a hideout. Her naked body was left lying in a pool of blood.

 

December

It has emerged the four Kumasi Academy students who died over the last few days died of Influenza Type A popularly referred to as Swine Flu.

Meningitis claimed at least three lives of SHS students, Ghanaian parents are worried about the safety of their wards in boarding schools.

Five Ghanaians living abroad secured the judgment that will compel the EC to enforce the Representation of the People’s Amendment’s Act. The EC has only 12 months to come up with a constitutional instrument to enforce the act or else all commissioners including the chairperson Charlotte Osei could be slapped with contempt of court and face the possibility of imprisonment.

The NDC minority in parliament is set to make a formal request to the speaker of to refer the conduct of the deputy trade minister, Carlos Ahenkorah to the privileges committee.

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Carlos Ahenkorah

Mr. Ahenkorah was accused of unparliamentary conduct in verbally assaulting MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa after it emerged that the trade ministry backed a private event organiser to collect up to 100,000 dollars from expat businesses to grant them access to the President at an awards ceremony.

The scandal compelled the president to demand a written explanation from the Trade Minister.

Special Development Initiatives Minister, Hawa Koomson is under pressure for preparing a "shambolic" budget in which two million cedis was earmarked for "budget preparation". Earlier The Minister justified the planned expenditure.

But the item that shows it budgeted for a website has proved even more scandalous on social media. The Minister has since said the website charge of ¢800,000 is an error as the budget is only ¢80,000.

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