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Corruption: Sedina Tamakloe and the 11 high-profile officials jailed in Ghana’s fourth republic

Source The Ghana Report

‘The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine’, Greek and Chinese philosophers proclaimed a thousand years ago, but the metaphor echoes at a high wavelength today.

On the day of judgment, the gavel strikes beyond the crushing thunder sound of Thor’s hammer in the ears of suspects as they learn their fates and become gripped by the fear of spending time behind bars.

That was the aura at the High Court in Accra on Tuesday, April 16, as Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe handed a 10-year jail term to Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, a former boss of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC).

The ex-government official who sought medical leave to the US and never returned was trialed in absentia, found guilty, and convicted accordingly.

There might be no place to hide as the government activates extradition processes to lock her away back home.

She was not alone in the alleged criminal act.

Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC, was charged alongside his boss and slapped with a five-year jail term for raising memos 23 times, under the direction of Attionu, to collect funds that were not used for the projects for which they were released.

They were both found guilty of 78 counts of conspiracy, stealing, unauthorized commitment resulting in financial obligation for the government, improper payment, money laundering, and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

The prosecution accused them of stealing GH¢3.19 million while at MASLOC and willfully causing GH¢1.97 million financial loss to the State.

The latest development underlines Ghana’s fight to emerge from a group of countries with high systemic corruption levels.

Weeding out graft is a daunting task, and every government has faced pressure from several quarters to deal with the matter decisively.

In the past, the late President Jerry John Rawlings and former President John Agyekum Kufuor had culprits jailed during their tenure in office.

Many past officials before the incumbent government have been locked away under President Akufo-Addo.

To fight corruption, the Akufo-Addo administration established the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to deal with this canker.

However, efforts have proved futile, as various parameters, such as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), say Ghana, have failed to make any significant progress.

With the latest high-profile case of financial loss to the State, The Ghana Report goes down memory lane to recap past prosecutions that have led to successful convictions within the past two decades.


  • In 2020, the Accra High Court sentenced three former government officials to various terms in prison after convicting them of willfully causing the State a financial loss of $4m. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, a former Board Chairman of the National Communication Authority (NCA), was handed a six-year imprisonment term for his part in a $4m NCA scandal. William Matthew Tetteh Tevie, a former Director-General of the NCA, and Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator, were each sentenced to five years imprisonment for also causing financial loss to the State in the scandal. Baff0e-Bonnie received more years because the court held that he benefited from the deal to the tune of $200,000. The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, also ordered the State to seize the assets of the convicts to the tune of $3 million since the State had only recovered $1 million of the amount at the time.

 

Eugene Baffoe-bonnie and William Tevie
Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and William Tevie

 

  • Abuga Pele, a former National Coordinator of the defunct Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) who doubled as a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga in the Upper East Region, was jailed for six years in February 2018 for his involvement in the GH¢4.1 million GYEEDA scandal.
  • Businessman Philip Akpeena Assibit, along with Mr Pele, was also jailed for 12 years in 2018 over the GYEEDA rot. The two received 18 years in total after the Financial and Economic Crimes Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Mrs Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, found Assibit guilty of putting in false claims that he had secured a $65-million World Bank funding for the creation of one million jobs for the youth, resulting in the government parting with GH¢4.1 million. Pele was later released on July 1, 2021, after a presidential pardon by President Akufo-Addo on health grounds.

 

Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit
Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit

 

  • In 2007, former Member of Parliament for Keta, Dan Abodakpi was jailed for 10 years. Mr Abodakpi, a former Minister for Trade and Industry, was found guilty and sentenced on three counts of conspiracy, two counts of defrauding, and two counts of willfully causing a financial loss of $400,000 to the State. The alleged fraud was committed when Abodakpi and the late Victor Selormey co-chaired the Trade and Investment Programme. The amount was in respect of a feasibility study for establishing a Science and Technology Community Park/Valley Project which was meant to enhance the export of non-traditional products. Prosecutors argued that the accused did not do any feasibility study but paid the amount for a proposal.
Dan Abodakpi
Dan Abodakpi

 

  •  Former Deputy Minister of Finance, Victor Selormey, was accused of conspiring with the then Minister of Trade and Industry, Dan Abodakpi, to divert $400,000 meant for a project to enhance the export of non-traditional products. He was sentenced in 2001 for his involvement in the investment programme scandal. Selomey was convicted on all six counts of defrauding by pretense, conspiracy, and causing financial loss to the State. Mr Selormey died in 2005.
  • His health deteriorated at the Nsawam Prisons, where he had been serving a prison term, and he was sent to the Cardiothoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. His family made interventions to the government for his release so that he could make arrangements for further treatment abroad. On March 3, the government remitted the remainder of his sentence, and he was released from prison but died on April 18, 2005.
  • Former Finance Minister Kwame Peprah
    Former Deputy Minister of Finance, Victor Selormey

     

 

  • An Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Justice Dixon Kwame Afreh on April 28, 2003, sentenced former Finance Minister, Kwame Peprah and two former top public officials to various terms of imprisonment for their involvement in the Quality Grain Company case. Mr. Peprah was sentenced to four years imprisonment while Dr. Ibrahim Adam, former Minister of Food and Agriculture, and George Sipa-Yankey, a former Director of the Legal Sector, Private and Financial Institutions of the Ministry of Finance, were sentenced to two years imprisonment each. They were charged with conspiracy and wilfully causing financial loss of 20 million dollars to the State in a rice project at Aveyime in the Volta Region.
Former Finance Minister Kwame Peprah
Former Finance Minister Kwame Peprah

 

  • The People’s National Convention (PNC) member and former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mallam Yussif Issa, was jailed in 2003 when a sum of $46,000, which was in his car, went missing mysteriously during a Black Stars World Cup qualifier against Sudan in 2002. Then President John Agyekum Kufour relieved him of his position. An Accra High Court found Yussif Issah guilty of two charges – stealing the money and fraudulently causing the loss of the money to the State. Yussif Issah was ordered by the High Court to refund the money within a month or serve an additional 12 months in jail. Additionally, he was fined 10 million cedis. The presiding judge, Justice Julius Ansah, told the court he wanted to pass a sentence that would act as a deterrent to public officials, adding that Ghana had lost huge sums of money as a result of corruption on the part of government officials. Mallam Issah refuted the claims, adding that he was innocent and that corrupt officials stole the money at the Sports Ministry.
Mallam Issa
Mallam Issa

 

 

 

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