Hidden cocoa roads audit report linked to Council of State member’s private construction company

Alhadji Aminu Amadu, owner of Nyagsi Engineers Limited Alhadji Aminu Amadu, owner of Nyagsi Engineers Limited

It has emerged that, a civil engineering and general construction company called, Nyagsi Engineers Limited, conducted the much-talked about audit into the Cocoa Roads project which was started by the Mahama administration.

The company has been linked to a Member of Council of State, Alhadji Aminu Amadu, said to be a prominent stalwart of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and a good friend of Senior Minister, Yaw Osarfo-Marfo, and there are doubts about the company's expertise in area.

The Nyagsi Engineers Limited audit, is one of the many audits done at the Ghana Cocoa Board with the aim of finding something incriminating against officials of the previous regime by the Akufo-Addo government, especially Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, who was the Chief Executive of Cocoa Board until the exit of the Mahama administration.

The US$1 million Kroll Associate contract awarded by Yaw Osarfo Marfo, was another forensic investigation into the affairs of the COCOBOD.

The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and the Police Criminal Department (CID) also did investigations into the COCOBOD matters.

Interestingly, COCOBOD used to be under the Finance Ministry, but was moved to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture headed by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto since the inception of the Akufo-Addo government in 2017.

Why the Senior Minister, should be awarding a forensic audit contract into an institution which is not under him, has been baffling many till date.

But people familiar with the Cocoa Road matter, revealed that the absence of anything untoward against the past administration, is embarrassing to the Akufo-Addo government and the management of COCOBOD hence, their reluctance to make the report public, which the (NDC, has in the past, said cost the country a whopping US$10 million.

Government disputed the figure, but failed to mention any amount. It is, however, unclear if the Nyagsi Engineers Limited contract was subjected to the procurement laws.

The Herald's digging into the subject reveals that some people have laid hands on the report already and are preparing to make it public in the coming days through a press conference.

It was revealed that COCOBOD, created an adhoc committee to look into all cocoa roads matter. The chairman of the adhoc committee was Alhadji Aminu Amadu, the Member of Council of state.

His private company was then hired by the adhoc committee to do the audit, but after the investigation, the government is yet to publish any part of the report, because it was deemed to be a fruitless venture, as no corrupt practice was identified against anyone in the Mahama administration.

Both the Nyagsi Engineers Limited and US$1 million Kroll Associate reports, have become a closely guided secret with the government publicly declaring it will not release them to Ghanaian taxpayers on whose behest these probes were supposedly commissioned.

It will be recalled that the Auditor General, Daniel Yao Domelevo, had taken issue with the US$1 million Kroll Associate contract, saying there was no evidence of work yet payment had been effected.

The Auditor General's incessant demands for the report, firstly from the Ministry of Finance led him to the Senior Minister's office who admitted he awarded the audit, however, the content cannot be made public similar to what the Joseph Boahen-Aidoo-led COCOBOD management is saying reference to the Cocoa Roads project which were halted on May 18, 2017.

The Senior Minister, rather invited Mr Domelevo to his office to view the report. The invitation was not honoured and the Senior Minister was surcharged with the US$1 million Kroll Associate.

Days later the Senior Minister embarked on a face-saving measure by going to court to rescue his image and that of the government over the problematic US$1 million Kroll Associate contract, which has been described as "fraudulent".

There were overwhelming paper works confirming the Senior Minister had breached the procurement rules and snubbed a Parliamentary ratification of the contract with foreign company based in the UK.

But he issued a statement saying he has instructed his lawyers "to commence legal process to challenge a disallowance and surcharge imposed…by the Auditor General…" insisting that Mr Domelevo erred "in law and professional procedures in the exercise of his powers…"

Before the case could be heard, President Akufo-Addo quickly sent home the Auditor General by directing him to take his accumulated leave. The officer who took over from him, later announced he was satisfied with Mr. Osafo-Marfo's explanation on the Kroll Contract which was earlier rejected by Mr. Domelevo.

Prior to change of leadership and the shifting positions at the Audit Service, it was revealed that Kroll Associate started work in February 2017 on the instructions of Mr Osafo Maafo and Ministry of Finance, started paying them in March 2017, when there was no valid contract.

Until 26th September 2017, Mr. Osafo Maafo had not signed a formal contract with Kroll. The contract was backdated to run effective from February 2017.

Although Kroll is a UK company, the contract signed by Mr. Osafo Maafo, on behalf of the government of Ghana, had no parliamentary approval in compliance with the strictures of article 181(5) of the 1992 Constitution.

It is instructive to note that, the contract was sole sourced without any approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) according to documents signed by the then PPA boss, Agyeinim Boateng Adjei, on the contract.

The single-source procurement process, the UK Company was contracted in 2017 to "review electronic evidence, identify assets abroad and manage a joint Civil and Criminal Assets recovery process."

The Kroll Associate was to trace the assets and monies supposedly stolen by former Ghana Cocoa Board boss Dr. Stephen Opuni, ex-Finance Minister and owner of Unibank Dr. Kwabena Duffuor and his son, but nothing was found.

By September 2018, $1 million, the equivalent of ¢4.86 million was made to the company, as full payment for its services.

Strangely, the board chairman of the Audit Service Board, Prof Edward Dua Agyeman, who is in the office of the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, has not been supportive of Mr. Domelevo's efforts to protect the public purse. He had rather been on the side of government.

Many audit reports have been put on hold because their current management feels it will embarrass the government ahead of the election.

Strangely, Prof Dua Agyeman, in the name of the Board has contracted K&A Accounting Services, a private accounting firm to audit the foreign travels of management at the office of the Auditor General and submit its report in two weeks. Many believe it is an attempt to nail somebody or a group of persons at the Audit Service.

Mr Domelevo, has described the move as illegal per constitutional arrangement.

He argued that Articles 187(15) of the Constitution provided that "the accounts of the office of the Auditor-General shall be audited and reported upon by an auditor appointed by parliament.

Profile of Alhaji Aminu Amadu

Alhaji Aminu Amadu has been one of the early generation professionals from Dagbon and Northern Ghana. He has been a Counselor to many young and upcoming Northern youth, he has helped to guide and mold a lot of successful northern processionals. He graduated in 1971 BSc Civil Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He became a member of the Ghana Institution of Engineers in 1976. After working with State Construction Cooperation for some time he proceeded to the then West Germany for further training in Highway Planning and Construction, graduating in 1981. He did his industrial attachment with one of India's leading banks, Industrial Credit and Investment corporation of India Ltd.

EDUCATIONCertificate of Proficiency in Project Analysis, Arthur D. Little Institute, USA 1988Certificate of Proficiency in Project Management, Arthur D. Little Institute, USA.

Diploma, Highway Planning and Construction, Stressennbauamt, Munster, Germany. 1981Bsc Civil Engineering, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. 1971EXPERIENCEState Construction Corporation, Place Engineer 1971-74State Construction Corporation, place Senior Engineer 1974-77State Construction corporation, place Project Manager/ Principal Engineer 1977-84REDCO LTDPlace Technical Director 1984-87Bank for Housing and ConstructionPlace- Chief Engineer 1984-1990Nyagse EngineersPlace- Managing Director. 1991- dateHONORS/AWARDBest Engineer (State Construction Corporation) 1975Best Head of Department (Bank for Housing and Construction) 1984

Source: The Herald