Why Osafo-Maafo is running Away From EOCO

Last week, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) which was set up by Act 804 of 2010 in line with Article 190 (1((d) of the 1992 constitution as one of the Public Services of Ghana to supplement and augment government’s effort in the fight against corruption in the State, officially invited Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, former Minister of Youth and Sports, to help it in the investigations into a matter brought before it by a member of the NDC, Akyena Brentuo, as well as directives from President Mills, both of which contain possible acts of criminality.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo , under whose watch the bids for the construction of the five stadia for the 2008 African Cup of Nations (CAN) Championship started, is expected to appear before the EOCO’s enquiry, but has quickly ran to court, seeking an order or perpetual injunction, restraining the EOCO from proceeding with the investigations into the suspected serious offences, including fraud, in the award and execution of contracts for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.

Counsel for Mr. Osafo-Maafo, Mr. Godfred Dame, has also said that EOCO does not have the legal mandate to investigate issues from Parliament. He said EOCO’s investigation is a conflict of interest because EOCO is under the Attorney-General’s department. He insists that his client will speak only to a body set up by Parliament and not EOCO.

I am at a loss regarding how Mr Osafo-Maafo and his lawyers are handling his refusal to appear before EOCO for questioning.

The mandate of EOCO is clearly set out by the EOCO Act. The relevant provisions at Section 3(1) (a), (b), (c), (d) and (2) S. 12, and S. 13 indicate clearly that the mandate to investigate any suspected fraud is inherent in the Office and can be activated by the Executive Director without reference to any other authority or agency of State.

The Office was established as a specialized agency of government to monitor, investigate, and on the authority of the Attorney-General, prosecute any offence involving serious financial and economic loss to the state and to make provision for connected and incidental purposes.

How then can somebody say that EOCO has no legal mandate to investigate the matter?

As a matter of fact, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo was the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, and played major roles in the contractual issues relating to the controversial judgment debt, of which he was supposedly fired. Indeed, there is speculation about his involvement in the issue, and many believe that he can help settle the matter once and for all.

EOCO, as a constitutionally mandated body, has the legal authority to investigate these matters, and I am surprised that Osafo-Maafo has conveniently found it necessary to go to court to bring an action restraining EOCO from inviting him to appear before it.

According to the writ of summons, he is seeking among other things, declaration that the investigations being undertaken by EOCO into the related “SERIOUS OFFENCES,” including fraud in the award and execution of contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008, and the invitation to him to assist EOCO in those investigations, are actuated by BIAS and PREJUDICE and, therefore UNLAWFUL under the 1992 constitution.

Mr Osafo-Maafo is also seeking the following: (i) “A declaration that all the circumstances involving the payment of the colossal sum of 58,095,974.13 Ghana Cedis to Alfred Woyome and the acts and utterances of the President, the deputy-Attorney-General and the defendant disable the Defendant from acting in a manner which is fair and reasonable.”

(ii) “A declaration that the purported investigations being undertaken by the Defendant into the so-called “suspected serious offences including fraud in the award and execution of contract for the construction of stadia for can 2008,” and the invitation of the plaintiff herein to assist Defendant in those investigations, are unlawful to the extent that they are issues raised in a report of the Auditor-General duly laid before parliament.”

(iii) “An order or perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from the proceeding with the investigations into so-called “suspected serious offences including fraud in the award and the execution of contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008”,

and any other relief as the court may deem fit, but in a quick response, the Executive Director of EOCO,

The writ came on the back of another statement from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), asking its members not co-operate with the EOCO and its investigations.

The question is, where is the bias and the prejudice? What is Osafo-Maafo hiding? Why is the NPP asking its members not to co-operate with the EOCO? I thought the NPP is interested in getting to the bottom of the matter.

Why are they running away from the law? Proponents of rule of law are now running away from the law? How strange and interesting can it get?

Isn’t it strange to see proponents of rule of law run away from the law?

It is a fallacy to claim that EOCO has no legal mandate to investigate this matter. Investigation by EOCO does not in any way bar parliament from setting up a committee to look into this matter. EOCO’s action is within the remit of the law. Moreover, it will be a misnomer and a mark of ineptitude on the part of anyone to think that a body within the executive cannot investigate it.

Not quite long ago, the Chief Justice who is part of the judiciary formed a committee to investigate the same judiciary, and the report submitted to the same judiciary. The police have an organ that investigates any criminal activity within the service, so is the military.

In any case, who says EOCO’s investigation is being premised on the Auditor General’s report? EOCO is investigating a “SERIOUS OFFENCE” as stipulated in ACT 804.

I find Mr. Osafo-Maafo’s stand very strange and hypocritical. A few days ago, the same NPP were calling on the president to rather set up an independent committee of inquiry to investigate this matter. Now the question is, were they hitherto ignorant of the constitutional provision which mandates parliament, as the only body that can form a committee to look into matters arising from the Auditor General’s report, because independent presidential committee of inquiry is not the same as a committee set up by parliament. I sense something odd here.

Where do some people get off? You have accused someone of fraud, and when invited to help in unraveling the fraud, you turn round and quickly file for an action restraining the investigating body from hauling you before it for questioning.

Why are they so ugly in their thinking? Is it only good for the politicians?

It is appalling how parties in this controversial judgment debt saga are twisting issues to cause unwanted tension in Ghana.

There is more to Osafo-Maafo’s decision to run away from EOCO. There is more to this than meet the eye, and EOCO must, as a matter of urgency, invoke all its powers under Act 804. We must not allow this fraudulent hoax to pass.

Yaw Osafo-Maafo must be compelled to tell Ghanaians his role in the contractual issues relating to the controversial judgment debt. We are building strong institutions, and must not allow Yaw Osafo-Maafo and his fascist NPP to derail our forward march to a secure future.

 I shall be back!!

By: Dela Coffie

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