The noose is tightening faster on the neck of beleaguered Bawku Central Member of Parliament (MP), Mahama Ayariga, as he is nowhere to be found to confirm or deny his voice on the tape negotiating for a 15% kickback.
He could be heard repeatedly mentioning a certain "Old Man" while he sat in a restaurant to negotiate a 15% kickback in the E-waste recycling plant facility contract. Interestingly, ever since Oman FM and The New Crusading GUIDE broke the story last week, the NDC legislator well known for engaging the media has uncharacteristic of him gone underground.
He could be in more trouble as The New Crusading GUIDE has learnt that an Accra High Court has granted an injunction to restrain the anticipatory apparent breach of contract that was being advertised and engineered by Mr Ayariga. The former Minister had sought to wrestle an already concluded and signed contract in a bid to hand the same contract over to other entities.
Mr Ayariga's motive of seeking to wrestle the contract from the original parties may perhaps be unravelled in the recorded conversation as he could be heard on the tape recalling an interaction with the powerful "Old Man" saying: "So he also refused and said that if SGS cannot find something at that level, then we should just give the contract to a different company and SGS will be forced to come and negotiate with the company". And true to the threat of forcefully wrestling the contract from SGS and the local content company, Debsther Klean Recycle Co. Ltd, should they fail to pay the kickback upfront, Ayariga wrote a letter addressed to no one in particular but addressed to several persons; including the former President that SGS and Debsther were strangers to him although several signed contracts and correspondence show that he very well knew the said companies and that these companies had been contracted by the Republic to perform stated activities in respect of the establishment of an e-waste recycling plant at Agbogbloshie and the management of e-waste in Ghana.
It is for this reason that the Managing Partner of Cromwell Gray LLP, Lawyer Kissi Agyebeng dragged the Attorney General and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI) to court before the present administration took over.
The ruling of the Court restraining Ayariga's (and for that matter, MESTI's) intended breach of contract before his term ended, comes weeks after Kissi Agyebeng, had threatened to initiate a court action against the government if Mr. Ayariga declined to respect legal arrangement made in the original agreement.
In a protest letter dated 19 December, 2016, addressed to Mr. Julius Debrah (then Chief of Staff) and copied to Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo (co-head of the Presidential Transition team), Lawyer Kissi Agyebeng, writing as Managing Partner of Cromwell Gray LLP, lawyers for Debsther Klean Recycle Co., described Ayariga's action as a flagrant breach of the e-waste contract signed between the company, the Environmental Protection Agency and SGS. The situation could result in the state paying another judgment debt.
The company said it signed the contract together with SGS Societe Generale de Surveillance SA to solely finance the construction of an e-waste recycling facility without any cost to the government of Ghana in September, but Mr. Ayariga sought to truncate the process and was busily seeking to replace them with a new firm known as COTECNA.
The letter was also copied to the Chief Executive of the Public Procurement Authority, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Chief Executive of Societe Generale de Surveillance SA (SGS), who were all parties to the award of the contract and the subsequent sod-cutting on 25 November 2016.
It explained that Debsther Klean Recycle Limited, a company incorporated under the laws of the Ghana and local partner of SGS, submitted a proposal to MESTI for the management of electronic waste in Ghana in September 2015. According to the letter, the proposal was received and led to the conclusion of a master agreement in Paris between SGS and EPA by which the parties were bound for the control, management and disposal of hazardous waste, electrical and electronic waste and other related purposes. The agreement was signed by Mr. Ayariga and the Executive Director of EPA, Mr. Daniel Amlalo, it stated, and explained that it had three modules; the first module being the establishment of controls over imported electronic waste, as well as new and used electronic products.
It indicated further that collection of advance recycling eco-fees to finance a sustainable waste management programme was captured under the second module while the third module included the construction and management of an e-recycling plant by a company selected by EPA. The letter said the master agreement formed the backdrop of the passage into law of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control Management Act, 2016 (Act 917) the formulation of which SGS supported EPA with technical resources. Debsther worked with the EPA as resource entities for the Parliamentary Sub-committee on Environment. Also, Debsther and EPA supported a study tour of the members of the committee in Eindhoven, Holland to apprise themselves with the best practices in electronic waste management.
The letter said by a financial agreement dated 15 September 2016, between EPA, SGS and Debsther, SGS firmed its obligation to finance the construction of the e-waste recycling facility without cost to the government and Debsther was obliged under the agreement to provide EPA and SGS with a proposal on financial and technical terms for the construction of the e-recycling facility, upon the performance of a feasibility study by the parties. According to the letter, a memorandum of understanding signed on 11 October 2016 between EPA and Debsther allowed the parties to, in principle, reach an enforceable agreement in 90 days for the establishment of the facility. The parties then signed a construction and operation agreement shortly afterward, which obliged Debsther to design, construct and operate a facility for the recycling of electronic waste, while EPA retained 40 percent stake, representing revenue to be accrued from the downstream sales of recycled materials.
The company asserted that following the agreement, a sod-cutting ceremony was performed on 25 November 2016 which was chaired by the then Greater Accra Regional Minister on behalf of President Mahama. It said the Minister, however, in total breach of the contract, had sought to remove both Debsther and SGS from the contract and replaced them with COTECNA under a sole-sourcing procurement process. "Our client Debsther, SGS and EPA have been the key entities engaged in the entire project under a sole financing contract, but it is inconceivable that Mr. Ayariga is now advertising such a volte-face and passing off entities that are total strangers to the project and have no interest and expertise in that relationship," it said. "The Old Man does not understand why SGS cannot facilitate something to be kept upstream. He is not interested in buying waste before he gets his something. He is not interested in the factory operating before he gets his something", Mahama Ayariga was heard saying on the tape.
He continued "So he also refused and said that if SGS cannot find something at that level, then we should just give the contract to a different company and SGS will be forced to come and negotiate with the company". According to Oman FM, Ayariga was attempting to negotiate a contract percentage on which company would construct and operate the e-waste facility in Ghana. The supposed "Boy" representing the interest of the "Old man" did not seem to be enthused doing business with Papa Yaw and Mr. Ayariga recounted how he had to plead before he was accepted to be part of the contract. "So I pleaded and pleaded and pleaded. It was only last two weeks that at the last meeting, they said oh ok since you (Ayariga) insist, we will let Papa Yaw in but he won't get 20%. I am telling you they said 10% and so I pleaded and pleaded and pleaded and they said ok 15%".
Meanwhile, The New Crusading GUIDE is still waiting for a response to text messages sent to Mr. Ayariga last week eliciting his version of the kickback saga which is fast gaining publicity. Please stay tuned for further and better particulars of the Court ruling.