Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu has stated that fresh details about the botched Sputnik V vaccine procurement contract make him more concerned.
According to him, a recent exchange of letters between government and the middleman, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum raises more questions about the Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu’s testimony before the Parliamentary Committee.
“The barrage of breaches of the law and the embarrassment is unprecedented. I don’t think we have gone through this before. A public officer, having breached all these laws and still has the audacity to hold on to the office? Come on, he is making us look like a banana republic,” Mr Kpebu lamented.
“It’s one lie too many. I don’t remember the last time a Minister did this” he said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Tuesday.
Mr Martin Kpebu’s concerns stemmed from the fact that the Parliamentary Committee in its report concluded that indeed, an amount of GH¢16,331,640 had been made, contrary to the Minister’s assertion that, “to the best of my knowledge, we haven’t done any payment”.
“The Committee found that the amount of $2,850,000.00 (representing 50% of the contract sum of $5,700,000.00) has been paid to Messrs Al Maktoum and this translates into the cedi equivalent of GH¢16,331,640.00 converted at the then prevailing exchange rate of US$1 to ¢5.73 whereas the Minister said he had no knowledge of payment under oath,” the report revealed.
For Martin Kpebu, a clarification by the Health Ministry on August 3, that it has now noticed some transactions to that effect within the said period does not wash.
The lawyer expressed his displeasure about the development and called for sanctions against the Minister, including being made to resign from post.
Mr Kpebu believes the emergence of correspondence between the Bank of Ghana and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department among others, makes the situation even murkier.
In the said letters copied to the Health and Finance Ministries, a Letter of Credit (LC) to the tune of $2,850,000 was established with the funds subsequently transferred by the Central Bank between March and April this year to the Private Office of the Dubai-based supplier for the jabs.
This was three months prior to Mr Agyeman-Manu’s appearance before the 9-member Parliamentary Committee where he denied knowledge of any payments to that effect.
But private legal practitioner, Mr Kpebu indicated that if the justification by the Ministry of Health is anything to go by, then it is enough basis for the Minister of Health to resign.
“Then it means that he is not on top. He doesn’t even know what is going on, and that is enough grounds for him to go because he has signed an agreement that he is doing site LC,” he noted.
Mr. Kpebu threw his support behind demands for a wider probe and also called on the Minister to come clean on who called the shots regarding the payments if he insists he had no hand in it.
“So is it the Finance Minister who usurped his powers, he should talk… Is Mr Agyeman-Manu saying that Mr Ofori-Atta is usurping his powers?” he quizzed.
The private legal practitioner explained that, “once the 20,000 [doses] came, then the Quantities and Quality (Q and Q) is supposed to be given. That means that we are going by the agreement, he would have paid for the 20,000. You see why it is perjury for him to say he has not paid.”
“Meaning that if he is no longer going by the signed LC [Letter of Credit], then the question is, at what point did they decide to change and do the cash transfer. You know that the cash was received on the 13th of April, so you see that that place is murky,” he asked.
Mr Kpebu stressed that this is indefensible and only exacerbates the matter for the Minister who is yet to publicly comment on the matter since the ad hoc Committee’s report was tabled before the House.