Ghana: Arrest of arms dealer, launch of president’s ‘achievements book’, uproar over power deal reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The media in Ghana this week reported the arrest of an arms dealer, the launch of a book extolling the achievements of President John Dramani Mahama after three years in office and a huge uproar over a power deal that is alleged by a Norwegian newspaper to be a rip-off.

The state-owned Graphic reported in a story with the headline “Ivorian arms dealer arrested” that a 72-year-old Ivorian had been arrested in Kumasi, Ghana’s second biggest city, for possessing a large cache of arms and ammunition.

It named the suspect as Moro Sata, who claimed to have received the arms from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger. Sata was said to have mentioned Abdul Kadri Aria, another Ivorian, as the source of the arms supplies. Four Ghanaian accomplices were also arrested.

The arms included anti-aircraft guns, 11 AK 47 assault rifles, 10 G3s, 45 automatic sidearm, 9mm AK 47 tracer ammunition, one machine gun, 45 automatic G3 ammunition, four firing pins and five 12.7mm ammunition.

An Accra-based radio station, Joy FM, said on its website that a security researcher at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre in Accra, Dr Kwesi Aning, said he would not rule out political motivation behind the discovered cache of guns and ammunition.

Dr Aning, who said that he could not immediately predict where the weapons were going to be used, noted that a careful assessment would reveal a proliferation of weapons anytime the country approached elections.

According to him, the presence of the weapons in the country could be politically motivated.

Dr Aning explained that the weapons could be used for intimidation and disruption of rallies during electioneering.

The Minister of the Interior, Mark Woyongo, suggested that more borders be opened with neighbouring countries, as a means of curbing arms smuggling through unauthorised entry points.

“We have so many unapproved entry points, we should be seen to be opening more borders and resourcing the people at those borders to be effective,” Mr Woyongo said.

The week saw a huge uproar and debate on the cost of a plant to generate 250 MW of power as the government finalises several projects to increase generation of electricity to end a debilitating power crisis that has affected industry, economic activity and social life.

The power minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, said on his appointment that he would resign if the load shedding did not end on 31 December 2015.

But as he races to render account on this target, a Norwegian newspaper published an article last week which claimed that Ghana was cheated by the company that provided the 10 plants - Africa & Middle East Resources International (AMERI) Group.

The Norwegian newspaper, Verdens Gang (VG), said the government of Ghana signed an agreement for US$510 million for the plants, when it should have been US$220 million.

The Ghana government and AMERI have vehemently denied the newspaper’s claim and the latter has threatened legal action against the newspaper.

The minister's said that the publications were “false, misleading and gross misrepresentation of facts”.

The Graphic, in a story with the headline “AMERI plant not outright purchase – Govt”, said Ghana explained that its transaction with the Dubai-based company was a “build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) agreement” and not an outright purchase of generating plants.

The Minister of Power also said the government of Ghana had not made payments to AMERI and would not be making payment for the cost of the equipment.

“Ghana will, however, assume eventual ownership of the equipment after five years of production and sale of the power to the Volta River Authority (VRA),” he said.

AMERI, in a reaction to the Norwegian newspaper’s publication, denied that the alleged Umar Farooq, who witnessed the agreement for the company and was referred to by VG as a fraudster and working for it, was the same person who worked for them till August 2015.

AMERI denied that any payments had been made in respect of the deal and explained that it was “properly done” and that there was nothing untoward about how it was started till its current stage.

The Company said it had retained international law firms to press legal charges against the VG newspaper while committing itself to continuing to work to help resolve Ghana’s power crisis.

The Ghanaian Parliament, which approved the deal, has also said that it followed due process in the discharge of its duties in respect of the agreement.

It has also refuted media reports that the agreement was rushed through Parliament, thus depriving members the opportunity to properly scrutinise the Bill.

A statement signed by the Deputy Director of Public Relations, Kate Addo, said the agreement was approved on 20 March, 2015, 18 clear days after it had been brought before the House.

On President Mahama’s achievements, the Graphic in a story with the headline “Mahama ‘outdoors’ book on achievements”, reported that the president on Tuesday gave a run-down of highlights of his three years stewardship, saying that the future of the country was bright.

“Captivating his audience at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra, President Mahama catalogued the achievements of his administration in key sectors,” the Graphic reported.

The achievements have been put together in a book titled: “Accounting to the People”.

Launching the book, President Mahama said development occurred in time and space and it would be difficult for people at different places to comprehend development projects which might be taking place outside their domain, hence the need for such compilation for posterity.

Since it was not possible for Ghanaians to have a fair idea of what had been accomplished over the period, he said, it had become necessary for the government to compile all its major accomplishments since 2013 to provide the needed resource for Ghanaians to have a better grasp of how the country was doing in terms of development,” President Mahama said.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 19Dec2015

19 december 2015 06:57:14

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