The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has charged three officials of the Northern Development Authority (NDA) and a private businessman with corruption and corruption-related offences.
The three officials of the NDA are Sumaila Abdul-Rahman, the Chief Executive; Mr Stephen Yir-eru Engmen, the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Operations of the NDA and Mr Patrick Seidu, Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Finance and Administration.
As in the case of the three NDA officials, the OSP also charged the Chief Executive of A&QS Consortium Limited, Mr Andrew Kuundaari, for “conspiracy to directly or indirectly influence the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage in the award of a procurement contract.”
Mr Sumaila Abdul-Rahman, Mr Patrick Seidu, and Mr Andrew Kuundaari also face an additional charge of “directly or indirectly influencing the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage in the award of a procurement contract” while Mr Stephen Yir-eru Engmen was slapped with two counts of the same offence.
According to the charge sheet cited by The Fourth Estate, the Special Prosecutor’s case against the Chief Executive of the NDA is that he directly or indirectly influenced the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage for A&QS Consortium Limited in the award of a contract to the company under the implementation of the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP).
The Chief Executive bypassed the procurement law by approving and submitting for payment two invoices submitted by A&QS Consortium Limited totaling GHC 8.3 million, which exceeds the total contract sum of GHC 5. 7 million approved by Public Procurement Authority (PPA).
Mr. Stephen Yir-eun Engmen, was prosecuted for directly or indirectly influencing the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage for A&QS Consortium Limited in the procurement of consultants by the NDA under IPEP. He accepted, without lawful authority, on behalf of the NDA, an offer from A&QS Consortium Limited for consultancy services for the design and supervision of construction infrastructure works and engineering services. This was at a time the NDA had sought approval and no approval had been granted by PPA for the procurement of A&QS Consortium Limited.
Mr. Stephen Yir-eun Engmen was also charged with supplying to the Chief Executive of NDA a fictitious document that he misrepresented and passed off as the contract executed between NDA and A&QS Consortium Limited. The said document stated the total contract sum as GHC10.4 million, which exceeded the total contract sum of GHC5.7 million approved by the PPA. This enabled him to secure approval for two invoices submitted by the A&QS Consortium Limited totaling GHC8.3 million.
According to OSP, the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Finance and Administration at the NDA, Patrick Seidu, “instructed, directed, and/or authorised the budget officer of the NDA, without lawful authority, to initiate the process for payment and thereby securing approval for the payment of two invoices submitted by A&QS Consortium Limited totaling GHC 8. 3million.”
The Chief Executive of A&QS Consortium Limited was also charged with “directly or indirectly influencing the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage for A&QS Consortium Limited in the procurement of consultants by the NDA for IPEP.”
The charge sheet also said he “supplied and attached to two invoices, a fictitious document which he misrepresented as the contract executed between NDA and A&QS Consortium Limited. The document stated the total contract sum as GHC 10. 4 million an amount that exceeded the total contract sum of GHC 5. 7 million approved by the PPA.”
The four persons will be put before the Tamale High Court (Criminal Division), on Tuesday 31 January 2023, a statement by the Special Prosecutor said.
Background of scandal
In January 2022, the immediate past CEO of the Northern Development Authority, Dr. Sulemana Anamzoya, petitioned the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, over a fraudulent deal that had been perpetuated in his name.
According to Dr. Anamzoya, his successor, Sumaila Abdul Rahman, falsified figures and forged his (Dr. Anamzoya) signature in a contract.
In the petition, which was copied to the President, Dr. Anamzoya said: “Quite recently, my attention has been [sic] drawn to a contract purportedly signed by me whiles I was in office as Ag. Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Development Authority (NDA), awarding a Consultancy Service contract to A&Q’s Consortium Limited in the sum of Gh¢10,400,000 under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP).”
Dr. Anamzoya agreed that he awarded a contract to A&Qs Consultancy during his tenure, but he said the only contract he awarded to A&Q’s firm while in office was worth GHC 5.7 million, and not GHC 10. 4 million.
The former CEO also noted that the PPA approved NDA to use single-source procurement to recruit various consultancy services to implement the IPEP programme in January 2020.
“The PPA approval letter provided details of the appointment, the proposed consultants, the number of constituencies per region for each consultant, and the estimated cost per consultant (please find enclosed PPA’s approval letter),” the petition said. “On January 28, 2020, with [the] PPA approval, I signed contracts awarding the consultancy services contract to the five consultants who were approved by the PPA.”
With this approval, Dr Anamzoya said he engaged A&Qs to provide Consultancy Supervision for 11 constituencies in the Upper West Region at an estimated cost of ¢5.7 million.
“Even though the award letter I signed has an amount of ¢5,720,000, I have sighted a doctored version of the award letter which indicates that I purportedly signed a Consultancy Supervision Contract to A&Q’s under the IPEP at the cost of ¢10,400,000 which I vehemently deny as having emanated from me (please find attached the doctored contract document).”
“As evidenced by the doctored contract attached, my signature was transposed on a contract (with a sum of ¢10,400,000), whose numbering does not tally with the remaining pages of the contract.”
Following the publicization of the petition, Mr. Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, in a written complaint dated June 15, 2022, requested for an investigation into the operations of the NDA and the actions of its Chief Executive and Board Chairman.
Mr Kpebu’s complaint highlighted the issues raised by Dr. Anamzoya in his petition to the Chief of Staff.
Following a preliminary investigation into the matter, the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, on July 1, 2022, directed the Controller and Accountant General to immediately freeze payments to A&QS under NDA’s implementation of the IPEP until the close of the full investigation.
The Special Prosecutor has charged the four persons, who will be arraigned before the High Court (Criminal Division), Tamale on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, for respective breaches of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).
Read the full report here.