It is emerging that the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) did not conduct any ‘proper’ interrogation of embattled immediate-past Ghana Cocobod Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
Dr. Opuni has reportedly been to the premises of the investigative body on two occasions since last week – with the last visit being yesterday – but EOCO has not conducted any ‘serious’ investigations into Cocobod boss’s alleged role in malfeasance in the cocoa sector.
A source told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that the dismissed Cocobod boss was at EOCO’s head office within the Old Parliament House, between 1:30 pm and 2pm and had a ‘hearty’ chat with the Executive Director, Justice Tsar.
There had been media reports that Dr. Opuni was being ‘grilled’ by the EOCO but the source claims it was a hoax.
Another source had hinted that the invitation extended to Dr Opuni was at the instance of the EOCO boss and not a directive from any official in the new government.
DAILY GUIDE understands that the invitation extended to the immediate-past Cocobod chief had been pending for about a year after some workers had accused him of corruption, but because the NDC was in power, he refused to honour the invitation.
There had been some speculations that Dr Opuni most likely ‘honoured’ the invitation in order to be ‘coached’ by some elements in the investigative body.
According to the source, the usual procedures to be followed in the investigation were never followed, explaining that “When somebody was invited for questioning, there are certain things that are supposed to be done. He walked straight to the Executive Director’s office and they were in a hearty chat.”
Explaining how people are interrogated at EOCO, the source said for instance, “The person’s name is supposed to be logged in and the interrogation room is booked, followed by the setting up of both the video and audio recordings; but all these things were not done in Dr. Opuni’s case.”
“He just went straight up to the Executive Director’s Office and had a hearty chat and then left. There was nothing to show that the man was under interrogation.”
“If proper procedures were followed, then EOCO should come out and tell the public which of the rooms was used for the interrogation. They should produce evidence of the so-called grilling.”
The former Cocobod boss was reportedly summoned and appeared before EOCO on Friday, January 20, 2017, after a reported botched attempt to travel out of the country through the Kotoka International Airport just a week after he was relieved of his post by President Akufo-Addo.
His passport was said to have been seized by the security agencies as he was ‘quizzed’ by officials of the anti-graft body on a wide range of issues, including alleged massive corruption in the cocoa sector – an interrogation which was turning to be untrue.
Just before the general election in December, the EOCO boss’ contract was extended by one year by President John Mahama after the former had turned 60.
In June last year, Justice Tsar, who was one of the Deputy Executive Directors, was appointed Acting Executive Director to replace Biadela Kweku Mortey Akpadzi, whose contract had elapsed after his retirement.
On January 12, 2017, the government ordered Dr. Opuni to vacate his post and hand over to Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister-designate for Food and Agriculture.
His dismissal was hailed by workers at the Cocobod as well as NDC activists who believed he was arrogant and corrupt. Some workers were said to have suffered dismissals for allegedly being tagged as New Patriotic Party (NPP) sympathisers.
Cocoa Sector Rot
A source had already described the rot at the cocoa sector as very ‘awful,’ as contracts were reportedly awarded without laid-down regulations and fertilizers purportedly smuggled to neigbouring countries for individuals’ interest.
Unionized workers in the cocoa industry had been calling for investigations into alleged dubious deals by the sacked CEO.
The Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) and the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) alleged that Dr. Opuni sold some of the cash crops and kept the proceeds and that such deals had cost the country in excess of $10 million, adding that the monies could have been used to develop the country.
Kingsley Nkansah, General Secretary of GAWU, in April last year, disclosed at a meeting with journalists that “Thousands of tonnes of cocoa are sold by the management of Cocobod which is hidden from the government and for which no proper accounts are maintained either. This is known as Special Sample Residue.”
He continued, “The Special Sample Residue is done by drawing an average of 0.3kg of cocoa beans from each bag taken over and sold by the Cocoa Marketing Company. So for every 1,000 tonnes of cocoa, they (management) get on the average of 4.6875 tonnes – an equivalent of 75 bags.”
The workers claimed that information on the purported underhand dealings at Cocobod was passed on to the former Employment and Labour Minister, Haruna Iddrisu; the former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, as well as the former Commissioner on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), but all to no avail.
Source: Daily Guide
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