The police has arrested the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Constituency Vice-Chairman of Mfantsiman in the Central Region for selling subsidised outboard motors
David Awotwe was this week exposed by freelance investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, for using his late uncle’s fishing gears to acquire government’s subsidised outboard motor and selling it above the subsidised price.
The Mfantsiman Municipal Chief Executive who confirmed the arrest said the case has been transferred from the Saltpond police, where he lodged the complaint after the investigative journalist’s revelation, to the Divisional Police Headquarters in Mankessim.
The 40-horsepower Yamaha outboard motors cost close to ¢20,000 in the market but government gave it to the fisherman at ¢10,000.
However, there have been widespread concerns in the Central Region that some party executives and members of the governing NPP have wrongfully acquired the outboard motors using their political connections and are selling them beyond the subsidised prices.
The canoe fishermen were supposed to register with details of their canoes and pay to the bank before being allocated the outboard motors.
However, there are widespread reports that executives of the governing NPP have hijacked the outboard motors and now sell them above the subsidised price.
In August, canoe fishermen in Elmina held a press conference and called on the government to investigate the illegal activities of party people because the practice defeated the subsidy initiative.
Mr Azure Awuni and his team went undercover in to expose the practice.
They got contacts at Apam, Moree, and Biriwa in the Central Region and one in the Western Region, who had the government’s subsidised outboard motors to sell above the subsidised price.
At Biriwa in the Mfantsiman Municipality, the undercover team was first led to the NPP constituency women’s organiser who was said to have some machines for sale.
She argued that there was nothing wrong with the practice since the essence of being in politics was to ensure they benefit and that’s how some of them benefitted.
“If I already have one on my canoe and they give me an additional one, what am I supposed to do? I have to sell it and take the commission,” she said.
“Nobody follows a government and would go empty hands. There is a reason we do politics, the benefit,” she added.
She told the undercover team that she had no outboard motor at the moment but she knew one executive who had one. She then called a middle man who dealt on behalf of the Constituency second-vice chairman of the NPP, David Awotwe.
The middleman led the undercover team to Mr Awotwe’s house in Biriwa to see the outboard motor and later led them to an uncompleted house for the negotiation. Mr Awotwe later joined them there.
They admitted Mr Awotwe bought it from the government’s subsidised consignment at ¢10,000 but quoted ¢16,000 as the selling price. The undercover team asked for a reduction but they would not sell it a pesewa less.
Mr. Awortwe said but for the intervention of the man who had led them to him, he would not have sold it. He said he preferred to deal with the Ivorians, from whom he was sure to have a better price.
He said a woman had from Ankaful had wanted to buy but he refused to sell, adding that he knew someone who had sold his for ¢17,000.
The undercover team paid him cash and asked for a receipt. He wrote the receipt on a 2019 NPP notepad and signed.
When Manasseh called him later and asked for his response to the encounter with the undercover agents, David Awotwe admitted selling the machine.
He explained that he was not a fisherman but he used the details of his late uncle’s fishing canoe to secure the machine.