Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court defers judgement • At Tsatsu's request

June 26, 2008 (Page 3 Lead)

THE Supreme Court yesterday suspended judgement on whether or not the International Finance Corporation (IFC) should be ordered to testify in the case in which Tsatsu Tsikata was accused of causing financial loss to the state.
This followed a request by Tsikata, who has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by the Accra Fast Track High Court, to the court to “arrest” its judgement and invoke its supervisory jurisdiction by quashing his conviction by the lower court.
According to the convict, while waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter, “the trial judge at the Fast Track High Court has embarked on a number of steps in danger of undermining the authority of the Supreme Court”.
Tsikata, who represented himself at the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, said, “I filed the motion this morning which will enable you to ensure that the administration of justice is not brought into disrepute by the desecration of justice that occurred on June 18, 2008.”
Following his application, the court, presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, in consultation with other panel members, adjourned the case indefinitely to enable the court, as well as the Attorney-General, to be served with the motion paper.
Other members of the panel were Mr Justice S. A. Brobbey, Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira and Mr Justice S. K. Asiamah.
Before his conviction, Tsikata had prayed the Supreme Court to compel IFC to testify in the case.
His earlier applications at the Fast Track High Court and the Court of Appeal regarding the evidence of the IFC were dismissed on the grounds that the IFC was immune from judicial processes.
According to Tsikata, the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had, during his (Tsikata’s) trial, brought a similar motion to arrest a decision that one of the panel members, Mr Justice Ansah, was about to deliver.
Tsikata stated that Mr Justice Ansah, who was then an Appeal Court judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, obliged and later proceeded with the ruling after the necessary steps had been taken by the DPP.
Mr Justice Asiamah then moved in and informed the applicant that the court did not have a copy of the motion which the applicant said he had filed in the morning.
Mr Justice Atuguba also said he found it difficult to see how the reading of the court’s judgement would prejudice Tsikata’s application.
Tsikata responded by stating that there was a close and intricate relationship between what the court was about to do (that is, the reading of the Supreme Court judgement) and what happened on June 18, 2008 (referring to his incarceration).
Responding to the application, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, said he had also not been served with the motion.
He said the issues raised by Tsikata were very serious and for that matter he needed to be served in order to respond appropriately.
Mr Ghartey, however, stated that he did not witness any desecration of justice on the day Tsikata was imprisoned by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court judge with additional responsibility as a High Court judge.
In the substantive motion to invoke the supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, Tsikata stated that the trial judge acted without jurisdiction in reaching her decision in infringement of his constitutional rights to be represented by himself or by counsel of his own choice.
He said the trial judge acted without jurisdiction in not treating him equally before the law when she compelled him to proceed with application for further evidence, in the absence of his counsel.
According to him, the trial judge exercised her discretionary power arbitrarily, capriciously and biased through resentment, prejudice and personal dislike.
“The decision of the trial judge to strike out the application for further evidence was taken contrary to her duty to be fair and candid, under Article 296 of the Constitution, and was an error on the face of the record,” the motion, which was handwritten, stated.
He further argued that the trial judge had predetermined the outcome of the application because she had her judgement in hand, while his application was still pending.
Tsikata was found guilty on three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,000 to the state and another count of misapplying public property and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
Tsikata had gone to the court without his lawyer who, he said, was outside the jurisdiction on the day of his incarceration, and had sought to take a date for the hearing of a fresh motion on notice to take further evidence that he had filed at the court.
The motion sought an order granting leave for the defence to call further evidence in the case and, upon the evidence being heard, for counsel for the parties to be heard in respect of the legal effect of the further evidence adduced.
The former chief executive of the GNPC had a brush with the law when, in 2002, the state charged him with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,000 to the state through a loan he, on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private cocoa producing company, and another count of misapplying GH¢2,000 in public property.
Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Francaise de Developement in 1991 but defaulted in the payment and the GNPC, which acted as the guarantor, was compelled to pay it in 1996.
Tsikata pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted a self-recognisance bail.
He has since appealed against his conviction, as well as petitioned the Chief Justice Chief Justice, alleging bias and unjudicial conduct against the judge.

To prosecute or not to prosecute - A-G DEMANDS SFO REPORT • Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom

June 26, 2008 (Lead Story)

THE Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) Department has asked the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to furnish it with the report on allegations of fraud levelled against the presidential aspirant of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, to determine whether or not to effect prosecution.
The contents of that report have provided substance for heated political debates lately but the AG’s order is said to be in reaction to a petition from one Kwame Asa-Ofori, who described the report as containing matters of public interest and requested the department to act on it.
Reacting to concerns raised over the AG’s silence on the matter, a highly placed source at the department said it would be presumptuous to comment on such allegations when the department had not received the docket on the matter from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
The source also stated that it had not received any formal complaint from Dr Nduom, who was cited for conflict of interest and financial impropriety by the SFO in 1996.
According to the AG’s Department, the only request it had received on the issue was a letter from Mr Asa-Ofori, who requested it to act on the report because of the high public interest it had generated.
Dr Nduom himself had made allusions that people with the legal responsibility to speak on the SFO allegations against him were quiet, while others played a political game with it because the allegations were “dead”.
He maintained that the SFO report which implicated him for financial irregularities, among other things, had no merit.
Elaborating more on the role of the AG’s Department, with specific reference to Dr Nduom’s matter, the source said in an interview with the Daily Graphic that the SFO was mandated by law to conduct independent investigations into the activities of individuals and organisations.
It said Section 3 of the SFO Act 1993 (Act 466) stated that “the functions of the SFO are to investigate a suspected offence provided for by law which appears to the director, on reasonable grounds, to involve serious financial or economic loss to the Republic, a state organisation or any other institution of which the Republic has financial interest”.
The source stated, “The AG’s Department does not direct the SFO to conduct investigations. Contrary to public speculations, the SFO is independent as far as investigations are concerned.”
It said the duty of the AG’s Department was to advise on dockets forwarded to it by the SFO, adding, “We do not investigate. Our duty is to advise on dockets forwarded to us for prosecution or otherwise.”
“In this instance, I cannot tell whether or not the SFO forwarded the matter, which it investigated in 1996 or earlier, to the AG’s office for advice,” the source explained, and gave the assurance that it would act on the matter immediately the SFO sent the docket stating the facts on the matter to its office.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Court dismisses Abodakpi's appeal

June 21, 2008 (Page 3 Lead)

THE Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed an appeal filed by a former Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Dan Abodakpi, against his 10-year conviction for causing financial loss of $400,000 to the state.
In a 2-1 majority decision, the court upheld the lower court’s decision and ordered the appellant to refund the $400,000 which was paid to Dr Frederick Boadu for consultancy work back to the state.
Mr Justice S. C. Kanyoke and Mr Justice K. A. Acquaye held that Mr Abodakpi had caused financial loss to the state, but Mr Justice Yaw Appau disagreed, on the grounds that from the record of proceedings, the prosecution woefully failed to establish Mr Abodakpi’s guilt and for that matter his conviction was wrong.
He said the trial judge, Mr Justice S. T. Farkye, failed to consider Mr Abodakpi’s defence in accordance with the law and, worst of all, he failed to give reason for not believing Mr Abodakpi’s story, saying that amounted to “legal error”.
Counsel for Mr Abodakpi, Mr Tony Lithur, indicated after the court’s ruling that he would appeal against the decision at the Supreme Court.
Mr Abodakpi was pardoned by President J. A. Kufuor and was released from the Nsawam Prison on May 24, 2008 after serving 15 months of the sentence.
Arguing their case, Messrs Justice Kanyoke and Acquaye held that there was overwhelming evidence that Mr Abodakpi transferred the $400,000 to Dr Boadu in Texas, USA.
They said Mr Abodakpi was a full participant in the transfer of funds from government accounts to Dr Boadu, who was paid for feasibility studies he never conducted.
According to them, the trial judge was not obliged to give reasons for concluding that he (the trial judge) did not believe Mr Abodakpi’s story.
They further held that it was wrong for Mr Abodakpi to state that the trial judge completely failed to consider his defence, adding that the court was not duty bound to do that, especially when the prosecution had proved Mr Abodakpi’s guilt.
The court ruled that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses was enough to warrant Mr Abodakpi’s conviction.
The court also accused Mr Abodakpi of attempting to pass the bug to the late Victor Selormey who was standing trial with him (Mr Abodakpi) before his death.
According to the court, Mr Abodakpi’s conviction did not amount to a miscarriage of justice.
It further held that Mr Abodakpi and the late Mr Selormey, by their joint efforts, caused financial loss to the state, adding that Mr Abodakpi could not escape blame.
Disagreeing with his colleagues, Mr Justice Appau held that he had carefully studied the record of proceedings and it emerged that prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves in their evidence, thereby creating a doubt which should have gone in favour of Mr Abodakpi, as the law required.
He said the prosecution failed to lead evidence to prove that Mr Abodakpi and the late Mr Selormey conspired to cause financial loss to the state.
He said evidence led by the prosecution’s own witnesses rebutted its claim that no study was conducted to which payment should have been made.
According to Mr Justice Appau, from the record of proceedings and other available documents, Dr Boadu did some work which had to be paid for by the state.
Mr Justice Appau described the contract between the government and Dr Boadu as “perfect” and not “illegal” and further pointed out that the charges levelled against Mr Abodakpi failed miserably.
He further argued that the prosecution failed to prove that Mr Abodakpi had no mandate to enter into a contract with Dr Boadu, adding, “There was no evidence to prove that the sole sourcing of Dr Boadu was illegal.”
In any case, Mr Justice Appau questioned whether or not the Auditor-General and the National Security Co-ordinator at the time could also stand trial one day for sole sourcing Baffour Awuah and Associates to conduct an audit on the Trade and Investment Project (TIP), although the audit firm was not backed by the Constitution to conduct the audit.
He said the Auditor-General was brought in later to rectify the constitutional anomaly after Baffour Awuah and Associates had been contracted to conduct the audit.
“I find it difficult to understand why the court relied on the evidence of lay persons to convict the accused person, instead of relying on the prosecution’s own expert witnesses,” he said, in apparent reference to an expert who stated that there was no stipulated maximum fee to be paid to consultants.
He reminded judges that they had been appointed to uphold the law, as well as protect all people, irrespective of their colour, race, sex, political affiliation, religion, etc.
He appealed to judges to recognise the Constitution and act accordingly to ensure that justice prevailed at all times to the satisfaction of all.
He, accordingly, quashed the conviction against Mr Abodakpi.
Mr Abodakpi was said to have, between May and December 2000, acted, together with the late Selormey, who was also a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Boadu, a consultant, and other persons with a common purpose, to wilfully cause financial loss of $400,000 to the state through the TIP.
The amount was in respect of a feasibility study for the establishment of a Science and Technology Community Park/Valley Project which was meant to enhance the export of non-traditional products.
They were charged with causing the transfer of the cedi equivalent of $400,000 during their tenure of office in the NDC administration when they co-chaired the TIP.
The former ministers were accused of causing the transfer from the TIP interest account lodged with ECOBANK Ghana Limited into the personal account of the project consultant, Dr Boadu.
They were arraigned on October 14, 2002 on three counts of conspiracy, two counts of defrauding and two counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state but both of them pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted a self-recognisance bail.

Supreme Court directs 2 to file arguments

June 20, 2008 (Page 31)

THE Supreme Court has directed the Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA) and the National Lottery Authority (NLA) to file their arguments on or before June 24, 2008 to enable it to determine disputes between the two parties.
The court has fixed June 27, 2008 for hearing of the legal action instituted against the NLA by the GLOA on the constitutionality or otherwise of the National Lotto Act, 2006 (Act 722) which gave the NLA the exclusive right to operate lotto.
The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina T. Wood, is the presiding judge with Mr Justice S. A. Brobbey, Dr Justice Date Bah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira and Mr Justice Julius Ansah as panel members.
According to the GLOA, the National Lotto Act, which outlawed the operations of lotto business by private lotto operators, infringes the constitutionally guaranteed right of the private lotto operators to free economic activity.
According to them, the creation of the NLA to take over and monopolise the operation of the lotto business in Ghana infringed the constitutional injunction to the government to ensure a pronounced role for the private sector in the economy.
They are, therefore, proposing the establishment of an independent licensing and regulatory commission to oversee the operations of lotto operators, including the Department of National Lotteries (DNL) which they claimed had doubled itself as the NLA.
However, counsel for the NLA insisted the law was constitutional and, therefore, did not infringe on the rights of the GLOA.
The NLA further argued that the Lotto Act did not monopolise its (NLA’s) operations.
It further maintained that the Act was not meant to put people out of business but to regulate the operations of lotto operators in the country.
The Accra High Court, on March 14, 2008, granted an interlocutory injunction filed by the GLOA and six others to restrain the NLA from interfering with the property rights of lotto operating businesses of those concerned.
According to the court, the outcome of the case at the Supreme Court would guide it in its decision in the case because the issue of constitutionality had been raised by the NLA.
In the substantive matter, the plaintiffs — including Obiri Asare and Sons Limited, Rambel Enterprise Limited, Dan Multi-Purpose Limited, Agrop Association Ltd, Star Lotto Ltd and From-Home Enterprises — filed the interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendant from “interfering with the property rights or lotto operating businesses of the plaintiffs pending the final determination of this matter”.
The matter was dealt with by a High Court in September, last year, which referred the parties to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
The GLOA sought a declaration that the directive from the NLA to private lotto operators to surrender machines or equipment used for the operation of lottery to the director-general by August 14, 2007 was unconstitutional, illegal and unreasonable.
Consequent to the order, they want an order to set aside that directive and a further order to restrain the NLA from “unlawfully, unconstitutionally or unreasonably interfering with the property rights of the plaintiffs”.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Leaded Fuel Phased Out - Since 2004, says TOR

June 18, 2008 (Lead Story)

THE Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has stated that it has, since 2004, phased out leaded petrol from its line of production.
It, therefore, dismissed claims that the refinery was currently serving leaded petrol to the public and urged the public to ignore oil marketing companies (OMCs) which maintained that they were serving only unleaded petrol to consumers.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Public Affairs Manager of TOR, Mrs Aba Lokko, said the deregulation exercise in the petroleum sector gave the OMCs the right to purchase petroleum products from other countries.
She said it was, therefore, unfortunate that some OMCs had taken advantage of the exercise to peddle falsehood.
Mrs Lokko, who declined to specifically mention the OMCs, said the refinery was stating the facts publicly because the perception being created was that it was serving leaded fuel to consumers.
According to her, the perception was so widespread that the refinery had decided to embark on a massive public campaign to educate Ghanaians on the unleaded fuel programme.
She explained that the phasing out of lead began in 2003, saying it was completely phased out in January 2004 after the Petroleum (Amendment) Regulation, 2003 (LI 1732) had been passed.
The regulation, which came into force on January 1, 2004, prohibited the production and importation of leaded petrol.
Sub-section (1) of Section 4A of the regulation said, “A person shall not produce, import, store, sell or use leaded gasoline in Ghana”, while Sub-section 2 warned that “a person who contravenes sub-regulation (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 250 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or to both”.
Each penalty unit is GH¢12, thus a person found liable of importing or producing leaded petrol will pay a fine not exceeding GH¢3,000.
Explaining further, Mrs Lokko said that TOR formulated its unleaded petrol with a compound called methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) as an octane booster.
"Extensive testing had been done on MMT by Afton Chemicals and other environmental organisations around the world and those organisations had all concluded that MMT did not pose any risks for humans," she explained.
She explained further that the Environmental Services and Quality Control departments of TOR monitored the concentration of manganese in air periodically and reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Mrs Lokko explained that the octane level in gasoline was 91 and gave the assurance that petroleum products from the refinery were of high quality.
Unleaded gasoline promotes high engine performance, thereby reducing high maintenance cost, among other attributes.
Other effects of lead poisoning, which is extremely toxic, even in lower concentrations, are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, increased blood pressure, stroke, joint or muscle ache, impairment of mental development in children leading to behavioural disorders, neuro-development damage, leading to lower intelligence, as well as decreased sexual drive.
Other African countries which produce unleaded fuel are Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroun, South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, bringing the number of countries which produce unleaded fuel in Africa to 10.

Aggrey closes case against Scancom

June 18, 2008 (Page 3 Lead)

MR Richmond Aggrey, a businessman who has sued Scancom Ghana Limited, operators of MTN, over a shareholding dispute, yesterday closed his case and prayed the Commercial Court in Accra to order the defendants to restore his name as the holder of 20 per cent shares in the company.
He also prayed the court to order Scancom to pay him his true dividends declared from the 2000 to 2005 financial years.
Mr Aggrey, who was led by his counsel, Mr Yonny Kulendi, in his evidence-in-chief, is also seeking the rectification of the membership of Scancom Ltd to include his name and restore him to his position as a shareholder and director of the company.
The businessman has joined Investment Consortium Holdings, SA (Investcom), the majority shareholders of MTN, and Grandview Management to the suit over unlawful take-over of his 20 per cent shares in Scancom.
According to Mr Aggrey, he was forced to pull out of the company because of former President Rawlings’s interference and threats which had the potential of collapsing the company.
Mr Aggrey, who was then the Vice-Chairman of Scancom, said following the continuous threats, he was advised by the other shareholders to pull out and instead nominate someone to represent him.
He said following those developments, he nominated his cousin, Mr Chris Wilmot, to hold his shares because his continued stay in the company at the time was seen as a risk to its growth.
He said he and other minority shareholders were deceived, adding, “I left to help the company to survive persecution. What we started in order to sustain our common interest is now being used to take away my shares.”
Mr Aggrey accused Investcom of unilaterally increasing its shares, to his detriment, and that of other minor shareholders.
He denied assertions by Scancom that he transferred the 20 per cent shares to Grandview out of his own free will, adding that he left to save the company and not to sacrifice his shares.
He further denied a claim by Scancom that he was paid by Grandview after the transfer of the shares.
The defence is expected to cross-examine Mr Aggrey at the court’s sitting today.
The Commercial Court is also expected to give its ruling on an application filed by Investcom praying the court to determine whether or not the suit filed by Mr Aggrey could be determined through arbitration in London.
According to Investcom, by virtue of the shareholders’ agreement dated January 12, 1996, subsequently amended in June, 1996, Investcom and Mr Aggrey agreed that the right forum for the resolution of any dispute arising from or in connection with the shareholders’ agreement was in London.
Investcom had earlier filed an application praying the court to stay proceedings on the case to enable parties in the matter to go for arbitration in London but the court dismissed it on the grounds that it was misplaced.
Mr Aggrey began giving evidence on April 28, 2008, following the non-attainment of a settlement between him and the three defendants at a pre-trial conference under commercial court rules, resulting in the matter being referred for trial.
The plaintiff sued Investcom, the majority shareholder in Scancom, and Grandview Management Limited when Scancom decided to engage in a merger deal with MTN Incorporated of South Africa.
The deal has, however, been concluded, following the transfer of all shares in Scancom to MTN.
That was after a High Court order on July 14, 2006 which restrained Scancom and other respondents from "continuing, progressing and or concluding the merger with and/or acquisition of Investment Consortium Holdings by MTN, without taking into account and/or providing for the plaintiff's 20 per cent shares in Scancom Limited".
The closure of the acquisition, according to Mr Aggrey, would occasion the loss of his shareholding in the company by reason of the accrual of the rights of the MTN Group as a third party.
Mr Aggrey's contention was that his name had been removed from the shareholders’ list of Scancom without any explanation, adding that the particulars of the directors and shareholders of Scancom obtained from the Registrar General's Department, dated June 2, 2006, and signed by Mr K.A. Ohene-Obeng, a Chief State Attorney, for the Registrar of Companies, showed that Mr Aggrey's name was not included in the shareholders’ list.
It said the onus was on the company to explain how Mr Aggrey ceased to be a shareholder.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Man sentenced for incest

June 7, 2008 (UNPUBLISHED)

A 45-year-old security officer, Laud Ford Mensah, was yesterday sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment with hard labour by the Accra Circuit Court for impregnating his 16-year-old daughter.
The convict was said to have sexually assaulted his daughter several times, leading to her being pregnant and throughout her pregnancy until a year ago.
Mensah pleaded guilty to one count of incest and attributed his actions to the work of the devil.
However, the court, presided over by Mrs Georgina Mensah-Datsa, took a serious view of the convict’s conduct and passed the sentence, which, she said, would serve as a deterrent to others.
According to the prosecution, Mensah, a security officer, lived at Agbogba, a suburb of Accra, with his five daughters. His victim happened to be the oldest daughter.
It said Mensah, a divorcee for the past eight years, confined his daughter, sexually assaulted her and did not allow her to communicate with anyone.
The prosecution pointed out that Mensah named the baby when it was born without the knowledge of his family members and after sometime began making advances towards his daughter.
His daughter, who had had enough of her father’s acts, refused to give in and consequently reported Mensah’s behaviour to the Madina Police.
The prosecution stated that the victim informed the police that her father threatened to kill her, if she dared refuse his demands and out of fear, she gave in.
According to the prosecution, Mensah was arrested on Friday, June 6, 2008 and during police interrogation, he admitted committing the offence .

BOST to build storage tanks for aviation fuel

June 16, 2008 (Page 47)

THE Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) will early next year begin construction of two storage tanks for the storage of aviation fuel to curb the perennial shortage of the product.
The tanks would have the capacity to store aviation fuel which would be enough to cater for demands for eight weeks in case there was a shortage of the product.
Each tank has the capacity to store 10,000 cubic metres of aviation fuel as a strategic reserve.
The Managing Director (MD) of the BOST, Mr J.O.K. Addo-Yobo, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that BOST was expecting a loan facility from the US Exim Bank by the close of the year, adding that the receipt of the facility would pave the way for the construction of the storage tanks.
Mr Addo-Yobo stated that the smooth operations of the aviation industry was important for national development and, for that matter, the BOST would treat construction of the storage tanks with utmost priority.
In addition to that, Mr Addo-Yobo disclosed that a pipeline would be constructed from the Tema Port through the Tema Oil Refinery to the Kotoka International Airport to discharge aviation fuel from the refinery as well as discharge imported products.
According to the MD, construction works on the storage facilities would be completed between 18 and 24 months.
Touching on strategic national reserve for fuel products for the country, Mr Addo-Yobo said the country had a current reserve for petrol and diesel for a period of four weeks.
He said construction of additional storage tanks was almost completed to cater for two weeks additional storage capacity of national reserve for petrol and diesel.
Mr Addo-Yobo gave the assurance that construction works on the storage tanks would be completed by the end of this year.
He gave the assurance that BOST would discharge its duties diligently to ensure that fuel products were always and readily available for the market.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

District Common Fund to support sanitation activities

THE District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) has released GH¢70.2 million to support sanitation activities under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) this year.
The NYEP is working in conjunction with Zoomlion and the money is expected to be paid to those employed under the NYEP.
The Administrator of the DACF, Mr Joshua Magnus Nicol, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that 170 districts would benefit from the amount.
According to Mr Nicol, the money was what would have been paid into the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) but the persistent non-payment of moneys loaned to beneficiaries led to the scrapping of the fund.
Consequently, the money had since last year been channelled to support activities under the NYEP.
Touching on the Members of Parliament (MPs) Common Fund, the administrator said GH¢3.3 million had been released to the 230 MPs in the country for execution of their constituency projects for the first quarter of this year.
He further explained that GH¢4,827 was directly released to each MP in the first quarter to enable them to monitor and evaluate their projects.
Mr Nicol explained that moneys for evaluation and monitoring purposes were released to the MPs through the district assemblies but the mode of disbursement changed following differences which usually arose between MPs and district chief executives (DCEs) over the release of funds.
According to him, his outfit received numerous complaints from some MPs on the alleged deliberate delays by some DCEs to release those moneys.
“To avert conflicts between MPs and DCEs, government has decided to directly release those moneys to the MPs,” Mr Nicol pointed out.
He also disclosed that GH¢47.1 million was released to all the 170 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies for the first quarter of this year for development projects.
Touching on the Regional Co-ordinating Councils (RCCs), he said they were given GH¢832,000 for monitoring and supervision of projects in the 170 districts.
Mr Nicol added that persons living with disabilities also benefited from a GH¢381,000 package for the first quarter of this year to support their programmes and activities.

Kosmos to instal sub-sea facility for oil production

June 11, 2008 (Front Page)

Following the successful test run on its oil fields over the weekend, Kosmos Energy Ghana Limited will soon design and instal a sub-sea facility which will be connected to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel to pump oil out for production.
Kosmos has already received bids from four companies, namely, SBM, MODEC, SAIPEM and BW Offshore, which have expressed interest in building the FPSO, while Acergy, SAIPEM, Technip and Subsea 7 have also expressed interest in building sub-sea works.
According to a statement signed by representatives of the partners of Cosmos, namely, Tullow Oil Plc, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Sabre Oil and Gas, and issued by Kosmos from its headquarters in Texas, USA, contracts were likely to be awarded by the end of tjavascript:void(0)his month.
The other partners of Kosmos are E.O. Group, Ghana and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
The statement said upon completion of the testing phase, Kosmos planned to acquire oil samples to conduct comprehensive refinery trials to ascertain the characteristics of the crude oil and its value on the global market.
It said the company was expected to complete the Mahogany-2 Well where the tests were being conducted and later suspend it as a potential development well.
The statement said Kosmos was led by a seasoned management and technical team with extensive international and West Africa experience which had a proven record of finding and developing significant oil reserves.
“With the backing of international private equity investors, Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Capital Partners, the company possesses a significant financial and operational capability to generate and participate in multiple high-impact upstream projects,” it said.
Kosmos also announced that “the company's deep water Mahogany-2 appraisal well in the Jubilee Field offshore west Cape Three points Block tested at a flow rate of 5,200 barrels of oil per day (bopd) of 36-degree API gravity crude oil and approximately 5.5 million cubic feet per day of associated natural gas on a 40/64-inch choke with a flowing tubing pressure of 1,543 pounds per square inch”.
It estimated that the Jubilee Field reservoirs were highly productive, which validated the company's fast-track appraisal and field development programme.
"The findings of this drillstem test go one giant step further to endorse the upside potential of the Jubilee Field by confirming that this reservoir is extremely productive, thereby allowing us to develop the field on an aggressive timetable and as economically as possible,” the statement quoted the Chief Operating Officer of Kosmos, Mr Brian F. Maxted, as saying.
The statement gave the assurance that the company and its partners were moving ahead prudently but expeditiously in order to make progress for early production.
Kosmos Energy, which announced the oil find in June 2007, and its partners will need to invest about $5 billion to fully develop the fields to pave the way for the production of oil.
Due to the cost involved in drilling and the time frame needed for the acquisition of equipment, Kosmos and its partners will develop the discovered fields in phases.

41 Firms apply for oil exploration

June 10, 2008 (Front Page)

THE Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) says it has been inundated with applications from foreign companies expressing interest to invest in oil exploration between January 2007 and June 2008.
A total of 41 firms have so far applied with 20 companies doing so last year, while 21 applied for blocks to prospect for oil as of June 2008. Four companies applied for blocks in the Saltpond, Tano Basin and Accra-Keta basins in 2006.
The Managing Director of the GNPC, Mr Moses Oduro Boateng, told the Daily Graphic that the GNPC, in the past, received a maximum of four applications in a year but the trend changed immediately Kosmos Energy discovered oil at Cape Three Points in June 2007.
The application from Oranto, which was one of the 41 companies which applied for blocks at Saltpond, is currently before Parliament awaiting approval.
Mr Boateng explained that although as many as 45 companies had put in applications to explore for oil, majority of them did not have the financial and technical capabilities which were the major criteria to be met before approval would be given.
According to him, six other companies had so far been assessed and found to have both financial and technical capabilities.
The companies are Yep-Dawant, Afren-Celtique, Sahara Energy Field Limited, Tap Oil, South Atlantic Natural Resources and Addax Petroleum.
Mr Boateng explained that each of those companies was expected to invest not less than $100 million in its operations.
He described the rate at which companies had expressed interest in exploration activities as encouraging, noting, however, that “our worry is that the major companies have not shown interest. Why it is so, we do not know”.
Mr Boateng said he believed the major oil companies were either adopting a “wait-and-see attitude or strategising to buy out companies which make discoveries”.
Which ever way the trend might be, he urged the big companies in the oil sector to invest in the country’s exploration activities.
“We do not want to make the mistake of allotting blocks to companies which want to come in for speculation purposes. That is why we are treading cautiously,” he explained.
Kosmos Energy Ghana Limited and its partners will need about $5 billion to fully develop the fields to pave the way for the production of oil.
As a result of the cost involved in drilling and the time frame needed for the acquisition of equipment, Kosmos Energy and its partners will develop the discovered oil fields in phases.
The company’s partners are Tullow Oil, UK; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Texas; Sabre Oil, UK; E.O. Group, Ghana and the GNPC.
Testing the oil discovered was done over the weekend to enable the experts to confirm the grade of the discovery on the deep sea off the coast of Cape Three Points in the Western Region.

Ignore directives from NLA

June 6, 2008 (Page 34)

THE Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA) has urged private lotto operators and publishers of lotto numbers to ignore a directive from the National Lottery Authority (NLA) aimed at barring them from publishing lotto results.
According to the association, it was illegal for the NLA to direct lotto publishers, through media publications, to desist from publishing drawn lotto numbers because the NLA had been restrained by the High Court from interfering with the operations of the GLOA until the Supreme Court decided on a legal action instituted against the NLA by the association.
The Accra High Court, on March 14, 2008, granted an interlocutory injunction filed by the GLOA and six others to restrain the NLA from interfering with the property rights of lotto operating businesses of those concerned.
According to the court, the outcome of the case at the Supreme Court would guide it in its decision in the case because the issue of constitutionality had been raised by the NLA.
The Supreme Court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the matter.
Reacting to newspaper publications by the NLA which had asked publishers not to publish numbers drawn by the GLOA, the Secretary of the association, Mr Seth Amoaning, accused the NLA of cajoling suppliers of GLOA, lotto publishers, among other clients.
“The subterfuge being adopted by the NLA to achieve its unconstitutional ambition to collapse the lotto business when the Supreme Court is yet to determine the case is most unfortunate and unacceptable under the present constitutional dispensation,” Mr Amoaning stated on behalf of the association.
He said “the subterfuge by the NLA is most unfortunate, given the fact that the dispute between us is pending and a restraint is in place”.
Mr Amoaning further stated that the GLOA employed a large number of Ghanaians, as well as provided revenue for the government, and for that matter it would use all legal means to contest the NLA’s interference in its business.
In the substantive matter, the plaintiffs — including Obiri Asare and Sons Limited, Rambel Enterprise Limited, Agrop Association Ltd, Star Lotto Ltd and From-Home Enterprises — filed the interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendant from “interfering with the property rights or lotto operating businesses of the plaintiffs pending the final determination of this matter”.
The matter was dealt with by a High Court in September last year, which referred the parties to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs sought a declaration that the directive from the NLA to private lotto operators to surrender machines or equipment used for the operation of lottery to the director-general by August 14, 2007 was unconstitutional, illegal and unreasonable.
Consequent to the order, they want an order to set aside that directive and a further order to restrain the NLA from “unlawfully, unconstitutionally or unreasonably interfering with the property rights of the plaintiffs”.
The plaintiffs maintain that the National Lotto Act, 2006 (Act 722), which outlawed the operations of lotto business by private lotto operators, infringes the constitutionally guaranteed right of the private lotto operators to free economic activity.
According to them, the creation of the NLA to take over and monopolise the operation of the lotto business in Ghana infringed the constitutional injunction to the government to ensure a pronounced role for the private sector in the economy.
The plaintiffs, in their statement of claim, said they had been in the private lotto operating business since 1989 and currently had a large number of employees and independent agents who conducted business for them or assisted them in the operation of their lotto business.
According to them, the NLA, in July 2007, advertised its establishment in the media and said it was the only body that was mandated under the act to operate lotto business in the country.
The plaintiffs contended that they had their own marketing agents and could not be easily relegated to the position of lotto marketing agents.
The advertisement, they claimed, also directed all persons who, before Act 722 came into force, had their own machines or equipment for lottery business to surrender such equipment to the Director-General of the NLA before August 14.
“The machines or equipment in question are our own property acquired with our own resources. We do not only have assets but also liabilities that cannot be severed from the assets,” they contended.
To them, the NLA did not negotiate with them, as stipulated by Act 722, regarding the machines or equipment.
The plaintiffs said they could neither be compelled to surrender their property to the NLA, nor could the defendant compulsorily acquire their property without prior agreement as to compensation and other consequence.

GH¢180,000 cocaine destroyed

JUne 5, 2008 (Page 40)

FIFTY-NINE kilogrammes of cocaine with a street value of GH¢180,000 was destroyed yesterday on the orders of the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal.
The drugs were found by officials of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) at the duty free shop of the Kotoka International Airport through the assistance of the Aviation Security on March 14, 2007.
The burning of the drugs was witnessed by court officials, the prosecution, officials of the NACOB, among others, at an open space near the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal premises in Accra yesterday.
Kwame Owusu Yelbert is standing trial at the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal in connection with the narcotics.
He has been charged with two counts of conspiracy and abetment of crime and would reappear before the court on June 17, 2008.
Three others — Daniel Sandja Nimako, Emmanuel Boakye and Felix Edusei — who were also charged with possession of narcotics without authority, are on the run.
The facts of the case were that on March 14, 2008 officials of NACOB had information from the Aviation Security that some people were hiding narcotic drugs within the airport premises.
According to the prosecution, a search was conducted within the airport and two polythene bags containing whitish powdered substances suspected to be cocaine were found at the duty free shop.
Investigations revealed that Edusei, who was then the driver of a duty vehicle on the night of March 13, 2007, was spotted removing a bag popularly known as ‘Ghana Must Go’ from the duty vehicle with the assistance of Nimako, Boakye and Yelbert.
The Commander of the Aviation Security went to the CCTV room to view the recording of March 13, 2008 and it was in the recording that Yelbert was spotted standing at the entrance of the arrival hall while Nimako and Boakye were also captured carrying the said bags through the arrival hall to the entrance of the transit shop, which was also part of the duty free shop.
Yelbert was subsequently arrested but his accomplices bolted and have since not been seen.
Officials of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) run tests on the substances, which tested positive for cocaine.

American firm to build refinery in Ghana

June 7, 2008 (Back Page Lead)

BARCLAYS Gerdi Group Incorporated (BBG), a US-based company, has expressed interest in establishing a $1.7 billion oil refinery in the country.
The group is currently holding talks with government agencies to pave the way for the smooth take-off of the project.
When established, the refinery is expected to process 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day, almost twice of what the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) produces presently.
The company is also expected to establish a $350 million cement plant to process 50,000 tonnes of white cement a day.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the local representative of the group, Mr Hamid Moomen, said the refinery and the cement plant would provide permanent employment for more than 3,000 Ghanaians and temporary employment for 4,000 local and foreign workers during the construction stage.
According to him, employees would be provided with accommodation while the country’s railway sector would also benefit due to the plans of BGG to construct modern railway lines to carry its products.
Another benefit to be derived from the refinery was the generation of electricity for the refinery’s operations out of which the excess electricity generated would be fed into the national grid.
Mr Moomen, who is also Chairman of Moomen Group in the USA, said BGG would begin construction works before the end of the year immediately it received permit from the appropriate authorities to operate in the country.
He further explained that the minimal design and construction time period would be four years after all arrangements had been finalised.
He said the company would acquire a 6,000 hectare most preferably in Takoradi for the establishment of the refinery and cement plants while a college of technology would be constructed to train employees locally in refinery operations.
Facilities to be provided include a modern satellite city fitted with potable water and sewage systems, shopping malls, schools, a clinic, pharmaceutical shops, supermarkets, fire fighting stations, banks, playgrounds, parks, fuel filling stations, a library, cinemas and other needed facilities that would help employees and their families not to travel too far for their regular daily needs.
He was particularly grateful to the Chief of Staff, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, who he said had been very instrumental in assisting the BGG to invest in Ghana.
BGG, which operates in Gabon, Angola, Algeria and Tunisia has to its credit the installation of water, sewer gas and oil pipelines, the construction and development of cement plants, satellite cities, roads, shopping malls, oil refineries and the distribution of security equipment.

Nsawam cocaine case: 3 before tribunal

June 3, 2008 (Page 3)

Story: Mabel Aku Baneseh

THE three persons who were caught in possession of 399 parcels of cocaine at Nsawam last Friday were yesterday remanded in custody by the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal.
Kwame Anane, 34, a Ghanaian, Kofi Amewu, 30, and Kofi Deble, 35, both Togolese nationals, were remanded to reappear on June 19, 2008.
The three were charged with three counts of conspiracy, possession of narcotic drugs without authority and importation of narcotic drugs without authority.
Their pleas were not taken.
Prosecuting, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) P. K. Frimpong prayed the tribunal to adjourn the case because investigations were ongoing.
The tribunal obliged and accordingly remanded the three accused persons.
The facts of the case were that on May 30, 2008 between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., the Nsawam police, acting upon a tip-off, mounted a surveillance and intercepted a Mercedes Benz truck with registration number GT 3359 Z, which was moving from Kumasi.
A search conducted in the vehicle uncovered 399 parcels of a substance suspected to be cocaine concealed in an artificially created compartment.
The occupants of the vehicle were arrested to assist the police in their investigations.