Majority rejects Minority’s call for probe into Oslo property acquisition

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The Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Parliament, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, has dismissed the allegation of wrongdoing against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in the aborted decision to purchase a property in Oslo, Norway.

He has therefore rejected calls by the Ranking Member on the Committee, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, for a national probe into the matter.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra Thursday, December 20, Mr Annoh-Dompreh, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, said “There is no need at all for a probe. In the face of avalanche of documents, it will be a waste of national resource if we follow the matter.”

He said there was no agreement between the ministry and the seller, and indicated that the only thing that pertained was an offer stipulating the nature and cost of the building.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh, whose submissions were corroborated by submissions of his vice, Mr Kwaku Ampratwum Sarpong, said the Ministry had not advanced any payment to the seller.

He denied the claim that the seller had started renovating the property based on the specifications given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

He said the owner had started renovating the property before officials of the ministry went to express interest in the property, and said even after the suspension of the procurement process the renovation was still ongoing.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, December 18, Mr Ablakwa called for a full scale national probe into the purported procurement of a property at an inflated cost of $12 million in Oslo, Norway, for the Ghana mission there.

He insisted that the state had made financial commitment to the owners of the six-bedroom property which was to be used as a chancery, and indicated that it was only an investigation by independent personalities that could get to the bottom of the matter.

He refuted the claim by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, that the government had not released any money for the procurement of the facility.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh’s rejection of a probe agreed with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s position that there was no prima facie case to warrant an investigation into the Oslo property matter.

Speaking at an interaction with journalists on Wednesday, the President said when there is some basis for the allegations, then he as president, is duty bound to call for investigations, “but when you have allegations that are so empty of substance, and then you say that merely because it has been made, you therefore have to have an independent inquiry, I know that it will be in the interest of some people to make sure that we don’t work, we just get ourselves entangled in all those red herrings and everything, so before you know it’s 2020 and they say aahh they said this and that but they have not been able to do this, I’m not going to buy that. I’m not going to, I’m going to stay focused.

“Somebody comes and makes a serious allegation that is worth investigating, I’ll be the first to accept it. I have done it already in my government but not on things like this.”

Bad faith

Mr Annoh-Dompreh accused Mr Ablakwa of bad faith by revealing internal documents of the Committee to the public, which he described as unethical and inappropriate.

He claimed that Mr Ablakwa, by that conduct, had become a ‘nuisance’ to Parliament, and said the committee would know how to ‘manage’ him.

Mr Annoh-Dompreh said the letter that he, Mr Annoh-Dompreh, wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, was to seek clarification for the release of GH?15.3 million to the Ghana mission in Norway and other countries.

He said he confided in Mr Ablakwa by giving him a copy of the letter, but Mr Ablakwa decided to go public with it.

Adding his voice, Mr Sarpong said the building in question was a 15-bedrooom property but not a six-bedroom apartment as claimed by Mr Ablakwa.

He said the property was valued at $11 million in 2016.

Defence

Speaking with journalists later, Mr Ablakwa said his interest was to save the country from losing money through an inflated transaction. Therefore, he said, his description as being a nuisance could not be justified since he was working to protect the public purse.

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