Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Minister of Youth and Sports has been accused of perpetuating fraud for coordinating a pilgrimage to Israel for 200 Pastors in the country.
Afriyie Ankrah, who appears to be spearheading the trip, stands indicted for supplanting and usurping of authority.
A leading member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is questioning what authority he has to issue letters from the State Protocol Office.
On February, 15, 2013, the current Minister of Youth and Sports, wrote on the letterhead of the State Protocol Office inviting Christian bodies to select nominees for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Jerusalem, Israel.
In the letter (Reference number SPO. C/09) signed by him and addressed to one of such Christian bodies, he said “The Government of the Republic of Ghana has secured sponsorship to take two hundred (200) Ghanaians from the Christian Community on a pilgrimage to Israel. Your Council has been allocated ten (10) slots from the list.”
The letter also asked each group to nominate 10 members for the trip.
The issue became controversial when media reports claimed that government is sponsoring the pastors at a cost of $2 million.
Mr Afriyie-Ankrah, then wrote another statement this week clarifying that the amount involved including air fare, hotel accommodation and feeding, was approximately $600,000 and not $2 million; adding it is being funded by some unnamed philanthropists.
Many have publicly expressed their reservations about the intended trip especially with the kind of difficulties the country is facing, with government coming under intense criticism for what some critics have described as a misplaced priority.
Contributing to panel discussions on Tuesday’s edition of “Kokrokoo” with host Nana Yaw Kesse, who was sitting in for Kwami Sefa Kayi, a Deputy Communications Director of the NPP, Sammy Awuku, stop short of calling for the Minister’s arrest though he accused him of engaging in a fraudulent act.
“What he (Afriyie-Ankrah) did is a criminal act. It is misrepresentation and fraudulent. Even if the letters were issued in his previous position as the Deputy Minister for Local Government, State Protocol Office is not under that ministry; it’s under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And so he has no oversight responsibility at the department…Elvis has misrepresented himself to the Christian community that he worked with the State Protocol because clearly that is not where he is and moreover, his ministry doesn’t have oversight responsibility. As minister for youth and sports, he has no responsibility to issue such letters…,” the NPP Communicator said.
He dismissed suggestions that Mr Afriyie-Ankrah might have issued the letters in his capacity as the Deputy Minister for Local Gov’t.
“Elvis was appointed (as Minister-designate for Youth and Sports) on 17th January, 2013 and the letter was written on 15th February, 2013 (a day after he was sworn-in as Youth and Sports Minister,” Awuku stressed.
The NPP Deputy Communications Director also challenged government to come out with the names of the purported philanthropists sponsoring the Christian pilgrimage, doubting whether any of the charity donors are real.
“…they don’t exist. If they existed this government would have brought it (the list) out. The Catholic Bishop Conference, Ghana Pentecostal Council, Charismatic Churches have all rejected the offer. So which churches went to request that they should be taken to Israel? Why didn’t government tell the so called philanthropists to rather assist the nation in solving the challenges confronting the nation?” he queried.
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