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4 persons involved in Northern Dev. Authority, A&Qs Consortium contract charged by OSP

BY: Kweku Zurek
Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng
Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has charged four people for respective breaches of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) in their operations at the Northern Development Authority (NDA).

The four are the Chief Executive of the Northern Development Authority, Mr. Sumaila Abdul-Rahman; the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) of the NDA, Mr. Stephen Yir-eru Engmen; the Deputy Chief Executive (Finance & Administration) of the NDA, Mr. Patrick Seidu and the Chief Executive of A&QS Consortium Limited, Mr. Andrew Kuundaari.

The findings are the results of a six-month investigation triggered by a written complaint dated June 15, 2022, by Mr. Martin Luther Kpebu, a private legal practitioner who requested for an investigation into the operations of the NDA and the actions of its Chief Executive and Board Chairman.

The OSP interviewed twenty persons over a period of four months, as part of the investigation.

Report

The report by the OSP into the investigation dated January 24, 2023, found that Mr. Abdul-Rahman, Mr. Engmen, Mr. Seidu, and Mr. Kuundaari influenced the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage to A&QS in the procurement for consultants by the NDA under the Infrastructure for Poverty (IPEP) by increasing the approved procurement total contract sum of GH5,720,000.00 by an amount of GH4,680,000.00 to an amount of GH10,400,000.00 without lawful authority.

It also found that Mr. Kuundaari’s submission of invoices for the inflated GH10,400,000.00 contract sum was borne of mischief. It said he knowingly submitted invoices on behalf of A&QS in excess of the approved procurement total contract sum of GH5,720,000.00) by an amount of GH4,680,000.00).

The report added that he succeeded in securing approval for the payment of GH8,328,840.00), which exceeded the approved procurement total contract sum by an amount of GH2,608,840.00 with a further outstanding amount of GH2,071,160.00).

It said the invoices were "the building blocks of a carefully staged design to directly and indirectly influence the public procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage in the award of a procurement contract by NDA to A&QS under the IPEP".

"Mr. Abdul-Rahman, Mr. Engmen, and Mr. Seidu intended their actions to, and their actions did in fact, directly or indirectly influence the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage to A&QS in the procurement for consultants by NDA under the IPEP by pushing through and/or approving and/or contributing to approve and/or contributing to cause the approval for payment to A&QS two (2) invoices totaling Eight Million Three Hundred and TwentyEight Thousand cedis Eight Hundred and Forty cedis (GHC8,328,840.00) and exceeding the approved procurement total contract sum of Five Million Seven Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC5,720,000.00) by an amount of Two Million Six Hundred and Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty cedis (GHC2,608,840.00) with a further outstanding amount of Two Million Seventy One Thousand One Hundred and Sixty cedis (GHC2,071,160.00), without lawful authority," the report reads.

"Mr. Engmen intended his actions to, and his actions did in fact, directly and indirectly influence the procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage to A&QS in the procurement for consultants by NDA for consultants under the IPEP by purporting, without lawful authority, to accept on behalf of NDA, an offer from A&QS for consultancy services for the design and supervision of construction infrastructure works and engineering services under the IPEP at a time when he was fully aware that NDA had not applied for PPA approval for the procurement of A&QS and PPA had not approved the procurement of A&QS by NDA".

The report signed by the Special Prosecutor, Mr. Kissi Agyebeng also commended the complainant, Mr Martin Kpebu for his public spiritedness and sense of duty.

It will be recalled that on July 1 last year, the Special Prosecutor directed the Controller and Accountant General to immediately freeze payments to A&QS under NDA’s implementation of the IPEP until the close of the investigation.

The report noted that while lifting that directive in principle, the Special Prosecutor advises all public officers in the approval chain to advert their minds to the tenor of a January 16, 2020, PPA approval for the procurement by NDA of A&QS and to ensure value for money. The tenor stated that the prescribed full contract price for the procurement of A&QS was GHC5,720,000.00.

About IPEP & NDA

In 2017, the ruling New Patriotic Party instituted the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (hereafter, IPEP) in fulfilment of a campaign promise to reduce poverty, especially in rural and deprived communities, through the allotment of the cedi equivalent of One Million United States dollars to every electoral constituency.

In pursuance of the IPEP, the government created the Ministry for Special Development Initiatives and it further established three development authorities – Coastal Belt Development Authority, Middle Belt Development Authority and Northern Development Authority, which replaced Savannah Accelerated Development Authority.

The Northern Development Authority was established under the Northern Development Authority Act, 2017 (Act 963) to mobilise resources for the accelerated economic and social development of the Northern Development Zone – constituting the Northern, Savannah, North East, Upper West and Upper East Regions and comprising fifty-seven (57) electoral constituencies. It is headquartered in Tamale in the Northern Region.

Read the entire OSP report below;