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Cocobod Mafia Snub Prez Mahama   
 
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28-Jan-2014  
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When Mr. Lawrence Mensah, a former employee of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) of Cocobod, together with seven other colleagues exposed their bosses who were diverting company items for sale on the market, little did he know that he would spend the better part of his working life fighting for justice for the good he did for his country.

Four successive Presidents, who are familiar with the matter, including the sitting President John Dramani Mahama, have directed that Mr. Lawrence be re-instated, but all the directives have been blatantly ignored by a mafia group at COCOBOD.

Mr. Mensah, in 1983, together with colleagues, decided to put a stop to the naked thievery and diversion of lorry tires, meant for cocoa evacuation in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions, for sale at the market by their bosses.

He narrated that when one of such stolen consignments was due to be diverted for the market, they intercepted the goods and blew the cover of the corrupt deal, even when his bosses tried to bribe them with huge sums of money to keep silent over the deal.

Mr. Mensah told The Chronicle that he, together with his colleagues, took the money as exhibit to the Kaneshie Police station, where they logged an official complaint of stealing and attempted bribery.

“They offered us money and we took the money to the Kaneshie police station and tendered the money there as exhibit,” he said.

His bosses, Mr. B.C Okai, General Manager at the PBC, and his deputy, Ohene Dame, he said, were arrested and latter bailed by management of COCOBOD.

Interestingly, the group that blew the cover of the thievery were dismissed by the Board of PBC on grounds that “they had discussed matters relating to the board in the public domain”.

Later, six out of the eight employees, who were dismissed, were reinstated upon instructions from the presidency, save Mr. Mensah and Mr. Eric Akwei.

Mr. Mensah then petitioned the then Provisional National Defense Council government, headed by Flt. Lt. (Rtd) Jerry John Rawlings for his re-instatement into the PBC.

His petition was upheld by the presidency and a letter dated 9th October 1989, and signed by then PNDC Deputy Secretary for CDRs, Dan Abodakpi, instructed that:

“After a thorough appraisal of the circumstances leading to his [Mr. Lawrance Mensah]dismissal, especially given the fact that those exposed have been convicted, and thus saving the state and COCOBOD from further plunder, it is decided that Mr. Lawrance Mensah should be unconditionally re-instated.”

Another letter, signed by Ato Dadzie, PNDC Secretary, on October 23rd, 1991, reaffirmed the reinstatement of Mr. Mensah.

It reads in part: “For the avoidance of doubt this comes to confirm that the two gentlemen were to have been re-instated in the Ghana Cocoa Board.”

But for seven years, this directive was never implemented by COCOBOD, and Mr. Mensah was out of job without pay over the period.

After several other petitions, Mr. Mensah was re-engaged, but not re-instated, as directed by the Presidency, only to be retrenched in an exercise to get rid of him.

This meant that Mr. Mensah lost all his social Security contributions for the period for which he was dismissed

“They sat on the re-instatement letter from 1991 to 1997, when there was an opportunity to retrench the staff, they gave me GH˘200 as retrenchment benefit, minus my pension, social security contribution and long service award, even though we were not the ones who committed the crime”, Mr. Mensah lamented.

However, correspondence between the Board and Mr. Mensah, copies of which are on Mr. Mensah’s file, to date, has different twist to the issue

In 1992, the Board, in a correspondence with Mr. Mensah, justified his dismissal by stating that it has been upheld by the presidency and that management decided to terminate his appointment, instead of his dismissal and some benefits paid to him on “humanitarian grounds”.

“…You were found guilty of communicating to the mass media matters, relating to the Board in contravention to the boards regulations.

“You made several petitions to various quarters, including the castle, CDRs secretariat, etc, in all cases your dismissal was upheld. The Chief Labour Officer, who was commissioned to have a final look at the issue confirms that you have fallen foul of our regulations and so you deserve the punishment meted out to you”, the letter read in part

The Ministry of Finance on 1st February 2011, wrote to the then Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD to “revisit the matter -in -issue” and furnish it comments, to enable them take further action as the “situation made the payment of his [Mr Mensah] arrears and social security contributions for the period of his dismissal impossible”.

On June 24, 2011, when COCOBOD had not made any comment to the Ministry of Finance on the matter, the Finance Ministry again requested that COCOBOD furnishes it with information on the matter.

“We request that you advise us whether Mr. Mensah was re-engaged or re-instated, following the directive from the PNDC for his re-instatement.”

Also, please advice this Ministry whether or not Mr. Mensah has been paid his pension and Social Security Contributions for the period of his dismissal. If he has not, please explain why”.

When it became evident that successive Managements of COCOBOD would not comply with the directive to re-instate Mr. Mensah, another letter, as recent as 1st October 2013, was written to COCOBOD from the Presidency, under the heading: REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES, and read:

“Reference is made to Mr. Lawrence Mensah’s letter and its related attachments which were addressed to his Excellency the President, on the above mentioned subject.

The attachment suggests that several letters have been written to your office on the same issue, without any redress (copy attached for ease reference). The Petitioner is now appealing for the payment of his social security contributions and his arrears.

We would, therefore, be grateful if you could re-visit the matter and respond to his request appropriately.

Kindly inform this office of any action you take for the information of his Excellency the President “.

The Chronicle can state on authority that no action has been taken by COCOBOD to address the issue.

Public Affairs Manager of Ghana Cocoa Board, Mr. Noah Kwesi Amenyah, when contacted on the matter, made reference to several other letters which indicate that the company had “amicably” settled Mr. Mensah.

He noted that Mr. Mensah accepted the payment of an amount of GH˘200 (two million old cedis) “in final and total settlement of the protracted matter.”

But Mr. Mensah insists that justice has not been served. He contends that he cannot suffer for all these years just by exposing corrupt practices, that saved the company he worked for, and the country at large.

He is, therefore, asking President John Dramani Mahama to make good his promise of fighting corruption and to ensure that justice is served in his matter with COCOBOD.
 
 
Source: The Chronicle
 
 

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