February 22, 2012 (Lead Story)
THE Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service yesterday subjected a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, to a two-hour interrogation on his alleged role in the GH¢51.2 million Woyome judgement debt saga.
He was alleged to have cancelled procurement processes on the construction of new stadia for CAN 2008 during his tenure as Minister of Education and Sports.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, who was allowed to go home after interrogation, also gave a detailed account of what he knew about an alleged contract between the government of Ghana and Waterville.
He is the sixth official to be queried on the circumstances leading to the award and subsequent payment of GH¢51.2 million to the beleaguered businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, who is currently standing trial for defrauding the state.
Other persons invited for questioning in connection with the matter are a former Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Mr O.B. Amoah, who is currently on a GH¢20 million bail, with two sureties.
A seventh official, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, under whose tenure the judgment debt was awarded to Woyome, has also indicated her willingness to assist the CID to unravel the truth.
Those standing trial alongside Woyome at the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court are a Chief State Attorney, Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh; the Director of Legal Services at the MoFEP, Paul Asimenu, and Gifty Nerquaye-Tetteh, Nerquaye-Tetteh’s wife, into whose account Woyome allegedly deposited GH¢400,000.
Counsel for Mr Osafo-Maafo, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, confirmed in an interview with the Daily Graphic that his client had been invited through him on Monday night to report to the CID Headquarters yesterday afternoon.
Mr Dame, who was present throughout the interrogation, said he and his client had reported at the CID before 12 noon but the interrogation began an hour later.
He further explained that Mr Osafo-Maafo tendered in evidence relevant documents to assist the police in their investigations.
He said his client basically justified why he had cancelled the procurement processes, which action, he claimed, saved the government more than $40 million.
Mr Dame argued that corruption did not come in at all because his client acted properly and within the confines of the law to protect the taxpayer’s purse.
“My client has not collected money from anybody; he has not caused any financial loss to the state,” he declared.
“We are willing and prepared to assist the police to expose any wrongdoing by any public officer connected with fraudulent payments to Woyome,” he added.
Counsel further stated that his client should receive commendation, instead of condemnation, for acting in a way to save the state millions of dollars which would have been lost.
Sources close to the CID confirmed that Mr Osafo-Maafo had not been charged. They also maintained that he had been invited to assist in investigations and was released to go home after questioning.
The atmosphere at the CID Headquarters was serene.
The General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, and a former Chief Executive of the Ghana Trade Fair Authority, Ms Esther Ofori, were at the precincts of the CID Headquarters to lend support to Mr Osafo-Maafo.
Mr Owusu-Afriyie maintained the innocence of his party members and urged President J. E. A. Mills to go after the real culprits in the Woyome saga.