The District Director of Education for Nkwanta-North in the Volta Region, Mr Maxwell Gyambiby-Ashong, has been sacked from the Ghana Education Service (GES) with immediate effect.
He was found to have embezzled GH¢68,000 of capitation grant meant for basic schools in the district.
The amount is an accumulation of three tranches of capitation grant that he had failed to credit into the individual school accounts since the 2016/17 academic year.
The District Accountant, Mr Agbadzi Edward Kofi, who is an alleged accomplice of Mr Gyambiby-Ashong, has also been suspended indefinitely from the GES, pending further investigations.
The Daily Graphic has learnt that Mr Gyambiby-Ashong’s case could be dire because he was supposed to have retired from the GES last year, per the records at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
The circumstance under which he continued to stay in office as district director, therefore, remains a mystery.
A highly placed source close to a meeting that was convened at the instance of the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, in Accra last Monday February 26, this year at which the axe landed on Mr Gyambiby-Ashong, said severe sanctions had been meted out to the culprits.
According to the source, the Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yao Domelevo, and the Controller and Accountant General, Mr Eugene Asante Ofosuhene, were present at the meeting.
Also present at the meeting were two representatives of the Headteachers Association in the Nkwanta-North District.
The source said an embargo had been placed on the salary account and pension benefits of the culprit to defray the embezzled funds.
According to the source, Mr Gyambiby-Ashong could not explain issues that the headteachers association raised in a petition that was presented to the GES Directorate concerning the embezzlement of funds.
A team of auditors, the source said, was to be deployed to the Nkwanta-North District to carry out further investigation into the financial malfeasance.
Meanwhile, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa has confirmed the issue in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
He said two officers had been found to have squandered the money, but added that due diligence was being done to ensure that the right sanctions were applied.
He noted that due process was being followed in line with the GES code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure that the two officials refunded the amount they embezzled, adding that the appropriate sanctions would be applied to deter others.
A Daily Graphic investigation last year revealed that Mr Gyambiby-Ashong had connived with some officials at the district education office to engage in various forms of financial malfeasance, including illegal collection of money for the limited recruitment of teachers in the district and taking unapproved fees from final-year pupils for their registration for the 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
The story, which was carried in the October 23, 2017 edition of the paper, said the directorate was alleged to have extorted money amounting to GH¢72,900 in a limited recruitment exercise that had been shrouded in shady deals.
It also indicated that 540 people who applied to be recruited as teachers to fill vacancies in classrooms were made to pay GH¢135 each for the verification of their certificates and a selection interview.
There was a follow-up story in the October 31, 2017 edition of the paper, in which the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Nkwanta-North, Mr Jackson Jakayi, gave a one-week ultimatum to the Nkwanta-North District Directorate of Education to refund all the money that was collected from applicants in the teacher recruitment exercise in the district.
The director was also asked to refund money that had been collected from final-year students in basic schools for their registration for the 2018 BECE.
The directive followed an emergency stakeholders' meeting that was held at the palace of the Chief of Kpassa, Ubor Konja Tassan VI, in the aftermath of an earlier publication by the Daily Graphic on October 23, 2017 that alleged that the directorate had extorted money from prospective teachers in the area.