Sam George, Ayorkor Botchwey in ‘near fight’ in Parliament
There was a near exchange of blows in the foyer of Parliament on Monday, between the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, also MP for Anyaa Sowutuom.
The two were in disagreement over the amount of money spent by the Ministry in acquiring a Chancery building in Oslo, Norway.
It is unclear what exactly incensed Mad. Ayorkor Botchway to charge on the Ningo-Pramprah MP, but Citi News’ Duke Mensah Opoku reported the Foreign Affairs Minister was addressing some Minority MPs ostensibly explaining the Ministry’s budgeted expenditure on the Chancery when she heard Sam George making catcalls and taking a video record of her engagement with Okudzeto Ablakwa and some minority MPs.
The Minister was however held back by her security detail and the Chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annoh Dompreh, averting a possible physical challenge.
The woman was heard hurling insults at Sam George, who was also heard saying that he was going to seek audience with the Speaker.
Earlier on the floor of the House, the Minority, led by the Ranking Member for the Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, leveled claims of cost inflation against the ministry over the conversion of a 100-year-old 6-bedroom house in Oslo Norway, into Ghana’s new mission in Norway.
Ablakwa alleged that the property was bought by a certain woman for $2.9 million in 2014 and sold to an unknown buyer for $3.5 million in August 2017, and so it was surprising that the ministry in a presentation to the Foreign Affairs committee said it was purchasing the same building for $12.2 million in 2018.
He therefore urged the Speaker, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, to admit a document he presented to back his claims of an inflated contract, but the Speaker ruled that the evidence is not admissible because the documents are not verifiable.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Minister stated on the floor that the transaction has been completely halted, and that officers have been asked to look for a new place.
“Mr. Speaker, I have taken note of all the issues that have been raised, and as a Minister, I take responsibility for everything that is done in the ministry under my watch. Mr. Speaker, I would like to state this on record, that I will not superintend over any act of corruption or wrongdoing or outrageous inflation of figures or fraudulent activities that will end in the loss of funds to the Ministry and by extension the state.”
“The Minority Leader mentioned the fact that the Ministry of Finance has released over 15 million to us. I would like to explain that this amount that was released, was for goods and services which includes the running of the three missions that we’re about to open, as well as vehicles and so on and so forth. So that amount which is less than the 16 million amount which is under controversy right now, could not be an amount that is being used to pay for the property.”
According to her, as per the practice, some officers were sent from the Ministry prior to do the necessary checks in getting a place to host the mission in Norway. She said the officers suggested that it was more useful to purchase a property instead of renting since Oslo is a very expensive city.
She added that prior to coming to Parliament today’ Wednesday, she had been informed by the Chairman of Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, that the property that was suggested for purchase by her officers, had been inflated according to a Norwegian Newspaper.
According to the Minister, the newspaper had mentioned the Gambian government as having made an attempt to purchase that same property but they withdrew.
“Mr. Speaker, we obviously realized that this was the same property that had been recommended by my officers. Last week Wednesday, I stopped them from going ahead to proceed on any act of acceptance. So as we speak, Mr. Speaker, I am even told that the Landlord is going ahead with others. No money has exchanged hands, and we don’t have a contract that will bind us to purchase that property; and it’s on hold, and I have instructed and directed that we look for other properties, and if we do not find properties, we can at least start renting for both the chancery and the residence, whiles we look for an appropriate property to buy. So Mr. Speaker, that’s the state as we speak now” she explained.
Below are copies of documents capturing the minority’s claims: