The police investigator, who made the inquest into the school placement fraud exposé by The Fourth Estate, says the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) refused to assist the police to do a thorough job.
Detective Sergeant Stephen Owusu made this known during cross-examination in an Accra Circuit Court on Thursday, October 5, 2023.
He said this after the lawyer for the fifth accused person asked him to tell the court which public institutions he visited during his investigations.
“My Lady, after the exposé, all the two places I visited refused to assist in any police investigation,” he said.
He agreed with the defendant’s lawyer that because of the posture of the Ministry of Education and the GES, he could not find out the processes that led to the changes made in the placement system.
“So, in effect, you could not find out how these processes are conducted?”
“That is so, my Lady,” he told the judge.
“You would agree with me that upon your investigations if you contacted the Ministry of Education and GES and they refused or declined to give information, you must capture that on record so that you cannot be accused of doing a shoddy job.”
“That is so, my Lady. But not all instances that you capture that they refused,” he responded again.
Prior to this, the investigator also told the court that one of the accused persons standing trial is a staff of the GES.
Detective Seargeant Owusu further said: “My Lady, Gilbert [one of the accused persons] works at the Fisheries Commission in Tema. And A7 [Eugenia Abigail Ahiable] works at Accra Academy.”
The Fourth Estate’s investigation revealed that the second accused person, Rachel Aryeetey, could not have placed a student into Mfantsiman Girls without the approval of the Minister of Education or the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, the only two individuals with passwords to Category A schools.
The former Director-General of the GES, Prof Opoku-Amankwa, said he and the Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, should take responsibility in the case of any fraud associated with protocol placement of students into senior high schools.
“If there is fraud in the matter, then I, as the Director-General, and the minister, should take responsibility. I fully accept and agree, but I knew that I was part of it and I wanted to actually make sure that there were no challenges with it,” he told The Fourth Estate.
In February 2023, the Minister of Education said in an interview that he would respond to The Fourth Estate’s investigations at the right time.
“I hear and I am told there is a documentary, but I have not watched it. My staff is poring over the documentary and we will respond accordingly,” he said.
This is not the first time the Ministry of Education has refused to cooperate with an investigation.
During the 2022 placement process, Professor Opoku-Amankwa, who was unhappy about corruption in the placement process, wrote to the National Intelligence Bureau and the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service to investigate allegations of corruption in the placement process. Part of his letter to the two-state security agencies reads:
“In some instances, fingers have been pointed at top officials of the Ministry of Education, GES/Computerised School Selection and Placement System and the Free SHS Secretariat. Management of GES will be grateful if your office could launch a full-scale investigation into these allegations to establish their authenticity or otherwise.”
The Fourth Estate sources say these investigations were stopped by “powers from above.” Prof. Opoku-Amankwa could not pursue this matter to the end. He was removed from office that same year.
It has been eight months since the minister made the pledge but he is yet to make a statement on the revelations contained in the documentary which revealed how a syndicate demanded and took money from undercover reporters and changed the placement of students from lower to higher category senior high schools.
The minister, on two occasions, has also failed to appear before the Education Committee of Parliament. He was expected to appear before the committee on February 2, and February 11, 2023, to respond to issues about the school placement exposé.
The Deputy Ranking Member of the Education Committee, Dr Clement Apaak, told The Fourth Estate that the Minister gave an excuse for his initial absence but did not appear the second time.
“Unfortunately, the minister is yet to appear before the committee. But I know that the leadership of the committee has extended an invitation to [him] on two occasions. We expected the minister to appear before the committee but he could not attend because he was engaged in other activities,” Deputy Ranking Member of the Education Committee, Dr Apaak lamented.
The Builsa South legislator said the minister’s excuses were “untenable and unacceptable.”
Prior to the exposé, the findings of an internal investigative committee report at the Ministry of Education on corruption in the 2022 school placement were shelved after they were presented to Dr Adutwum.
The investigation was provoked by an alert from the National Security Ministry over allegations of corruption in the school placement.
However, according to The Fourth Estate’s sources at the ministry, no action was taken on the report because it indicted some top officials of the ministry.
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