Pressure group OccupyGhana has described as “deficient” a report purported to have come from the Bureau of National Investigation, BNI, exonerating the Managing Director of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company (BOST), Alfred Obeng Boateng of any wrongdoing in the sale of five million litres of contaminated fuel which has become a subject of national debate.
Mr. Obeng Boateng has come under attack from a section of the public especially the minority in parliament, over allegation he supervised the sale of the off-spec fuel to Movenpiina, a company said to have been incorporated barely a month after it negotiated the deal with BOST without NPA license.
But investigations said to have been conducted by the BNI and National Security cleared him of any wrong. Addressing journalists at a press conference on Tuesday, July 4th, Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko, whose outfit setup an 8 member committee to investigate the MD, read the findings from the two security agencies giving Mr. Obeng Boateng a clean page, contrary to the fierce attack from the minority.
OccupyGhana in a statement issued late last night, July 5, said the categorical statement from the BNI exonerating the MD amounted to an opinion, which the group is not prepared to accept.
“Had the alleged BNI Report simply set out facts that had come to its knowledge in the course of its investigations, OccupyGhana® would have had no quarrel with it. But, it appears that the BNI went further than that when it began to express opinions as to who is or is not culpable in the matter. We are vehemently opposed to that.”
The group says the work and mandate of the Committee should continue, and that the alleged report at best be considered as one of the materials that the Committee may consider, and with liberty, based on evidence that it might recover, to agree or disagree with what is contained in the BNI Report.
It says the report is “deficient” in many ways and so are not ready to accept its conclusions. Below are some of the questions the group has raised:
- Who purchased and imported the product into Ghana, and from whom?
- How much was paid for it?
- Who was in charge of holding or storing the product until it was sold or otherwise disposed of?
- Under what circumstances and under whose control did the product become "contaminated"?
- Exactly how did the "contamination" happen?
- Exactly when did the "contamination" happen and/or when was it discovered?
- Was the product "contaminated" through negligence, criminal activity or any other illegal or wrongful act, and if so, who was responsible for it?
- Were there any remedial measures that could have been taken to "un-contaminate" or purify the product apart from selling it in the "contaminated" state, and if so were those measures feasible?
- Did BOST obtain the technical report that is a mandatory requirement for disposal of property under section 83(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), and if so, who prepared that report and what did it say?
- Did BOST convene a Board of Survey to report on the product, and if so, did that Board recommend the best method of disposal of the product?
- Did the relevant BOST officer complete a Board of Survey Form, and if so, what did the Form say?
- Were the Board of Survey's recommendations, if any, approved by the head of BOST, and if so, when?
- If the cause of the "contamination" was other than "wear and tear" (to the extent that this term may even be applicable to the product in question), what procedure was established by the Board of Survey for handling any losses, and to what extent was that procedure followed before the product was disposed of?
- Did the disposal of the product comply with the relevant portions of section 84 of Act 663, particularly by public tender to the highest bidder or by public auction, each being subject to reserve price?
- Which entities submitted bids or participated in the auction, and how much did each bid?
- Was due diligence conducted on those entities to, at the very least, ascertain (i) if they had been duly formed or incorporated, (ii) who were the human players behind those entities, and (iii) whether the entities are duly registered by the National Petroleum Authority to engage in that business?
- Was the Board of Directors of BOST involved in this transaction at all, and if so what do the relevant Board minutes say?
- If any of the provisions and procedures under Part VII of Act 663 were not followed, what steps are being taken to exact the civil and criminal sanctions prescribed by that Act for its breach?
- Has Ghana suffered any financial loss from this transaction, and if so, are there grounds to charge anyone with the offence of "causing financial loss"?
Any report on this matter, including the BNI Report, which does not raise or even answer any of these relevant legal questions is not worthy of any serious consideration. We fully expect that these, among several others, are what the Committee will deal with and address in the course of its investigations.
It is on these grounds that, first, we urge the Committee to be fully composed forthwith and for it to commence its work. Second, we will urge the Committee and its members (when constituted) to be independent, to be completely unfazed by any reports of any other institutions or persons, and to resist any attempts to allow such reports to influence its work. Third, we place on record our opposition to any attempt to restrict or limit the Committee's mandate or terms of reference. Fourth, it is our considered opinion that the Committee's mandate should be extended to cover and investigate all similar transactions that have occurred since BOST was formed.
OccupyGhana® wishes to state, in conclusion, that we expect the highest form of professionalism and respect to be given to Ghanaians, particularly by state institutions paid and supported with our tax monies to work for us and to protect our interest(s). We call on all, particularly state institutions and their employees, to always remember the duty that is placed on "every citizen" by Article 41(f) of the Constitution "to protect and preserve public property, and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property." We are all bound by this constitutional obligation in all such situations because, "it is not merely of some importance, but of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should MANIFESTLY and UNDOUBTEDLY be seen to be done."