The Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and former President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV says even though he is open to criticisms from TV host, Paul Adom-Otchere, the latter should not be dishonest in his comments about him.
According to the traditional ruler, he is surprised about the ace broadcaster's comments on his attendance of meetings during the period of his membership of the Council of State.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with JoyNews' Maxwell Agbagba on Thursday, Togbe Afede stressed that contrary to Paul's earlier claims, he performed his roles dutifully as a member of the Council of State.
In that regard, he revealed that even though he was an active member of the Council, he saw the ex-gratia which was paid to him as unnecessary, thus his rejection of the money; adding that under the circumstances, Mr Adom-Otchere should not tell lies about him.
"My surprise indeed came from the misrepresentation. You can criticise me. You can criticise my opinions but don't tell lies. Don't say for instance that Togbe presented himself as coming from Ho to the Council of State and enjoyed transport allowances. When he knew it is not true. He knew that by my character, I could never do something like that.
I am a resident of Accra. I'm not one of those who will pretend not to live in Accra and enjoy government hostel facilities when they're working or enjoy transportation allowances. I am not that type. He knows. So that part hurts me. And also the suggestion that I was most of the time absent from Council of State meetings, that also hurts me because it is not true and he knows that is not true", he lamented.
Togbe Afede added that, "So that level of dishonesty hurts me. That level of wickedness; that I took an exception to. You can criticise me, you can say you didn't see why I should return the money, but don't back your arguments with falsehood. That part, I take a strong exception to".
During an editorial on Good Evening Ghana on Tuesday, Mr. Adom-Otchere alleged that Togbe Afede attended only 16% of meetings during his tenure as a member of the Council of State.
Paul Adom-Otchere, said out of the total of 242 meetings of the Council during the period, the Paramount Chief honoured only 48 of those meetings; representing 16%.
The broadcaster made this disclosure while expressing his views on why Togbe Afede returned the ex-gratia which was paid to him.
In his opinion, even though the move has been hailed on social media as a patriotic gesture, he does not understand the reason of the praises which were showered on the traditional leader.
According to Mr. Adom-Otchere, the payment of ex-gratia to Article 71 office holders is captured in the 1992 Constitution, and therefore it was mischievous for Togbe Afede to have returned his, in a manner that seemingly portrayed him as incorruptible.
As result, he criticised Togbe Afede and urged the public to desist from praising him since the refund of his ex-gratia does not put him on any 'moral high ground'.
But reacting to this in a JoyNews exclusive on Thursday, Togbe Afede said he is disappointed in the comments of Paul Adom-Otchere.
In expressing his sentiments, he stated that based on his history with the journalist, he did not anticipate such comments from him.
While dismissing Paul's claims, he emphasised that, he was 'one of the active participants' in the Council of State, during his period of service.
He also revealed that even though he was alarmed by Paul's remarks, he is not surprised because Paul did a similar thing in the past.
"He knew me very well. [So it's] surprising that he of all people, and I don't want to go into details; will be the one to criticise me. But why am I not surprised? Because he had done something similar before. When I was fighting Agyapa, he granted an interview to the Minister of Finance and sought to denigrate me even in that interview.
By suggesting that I was an employee of Ken-Ofori Atta. When I drew his attention, he apologised that no, no, he knew I was a founder of Data Bank. I said, so why then do you present it as if I was an employee of Ken Ofori-Atta? Again, when we were having a debate about the referendum, that had to be aborted, he again tried to criticise me" Togbe Afede explained.
The Paramount Chief of the Asogli Traditional Area, Togbe Afede further intimated that, "It's a surprise that he of all people. When I say he of all people, he'll know why I'm saying I didn't expect that from he of all people. But unfortunately, some people live by their stomachs in the kind of things that they do. So given my recent experience, I'll say I'm not too surprised".
Meanwhile, the Asogli State Council has also dismissed Paul Adom-Otchere's claims.
In a letter written in response to comments by Mr Adom-Otchere on Wednesday, the Asogli State Council emphasised that Paul lied about the number of times the traditional leader attended meetings while serving on the Council.
The letter also debunked claims about some monies Togbe Afede had allegedly received while at post on the Council.
The letter, which was titled: 'Paul Adom-Otchere lied', reads as follows:
"Our attention has been drawn to comments and allegations made by one Paul Adom Otchere in his Good Evening Ghana programme on Metro TV on June 7, 2022 during his discussion of Togbe Afede XIV's rejection of Ex Gratia payment made to him.
We ordinarily would not respond to comments from Paul Adom-Otchere, knowing who he is. But while we ponder a more suitable reaction, specific allegations he made cannot be ignored:
1. The numbers Paul Adom-Otchere presented on Togbe's attendance at meetings of the Council of State are both incorrect and misleading, and are a disingenuous attempt to discredit Togbe's performance at the Council. We challenge him to provide the Council's attendance register from which he compiled his numbers for all to know the truth".
In their explanation, the Asogli State continued: "The Council had three committees, one of which Togbe chaired, the Economy and Special Development Initiatives Committee. And Togbe had an excellent plenary meeting attendance record".
The letter further stated that:
"2. Togbe did not take a loan from Government. SG Bank offered commercial loans to Council members, which Togbe has fully repaid.
3. Togbe presented himself as a resident of Accra and did not claim any transport allowances from the Council.
4. Togbe did not say the Ex Gratia payments were illegal. He believes part-time work by our senior citizens should not merit Ex Gratia payment by our poor country.
5. Finally, Togbe's rejection of the Ex Gratia payment is not a partisan political matter".
Earlier social media reactions
It will be recalled that social media users showered accolades on the Paramount Chief and Agbogbomefia of Asogli, Togbe Afede XIV, for rejecting over ¢365,000 ex-gratia paid to him for serving on the Council of State between 2017 and 2020.
The netizens praised him for protecting the public purse and thinking of the growth and development of the country.
Classifying him as a “man of integrity,” the tweethearts urged other public office holders to follow in the steps of the Paramount Chief.
In a statement on Monday explaining why he refunded the “outrageous” amount, Togbe Afede XIV said it is not appropriate to receive the said amount when he already took monthly salaries for serving on the Council.
He provided these clarifications after members of the public reacted to news of whether or not he indeed followed through with his supposed refund and the rationale behind it.
“I did not think the payment was made to trap me, as is being speculated. I believe it was paid to everybody who served on the Council of State. However, I thought that extra payment was inappropriate for a short, effectively part-time work, for which I received a monthly salary and was entitled to other privileges. So, I was very uncomfortable with it”, he added.
It is on the back of this that social media was buzzing earlier, commending the traditional leader.
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