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General News Fri, 20 Apr 2001

Malam Isa To Face Prosecution

Former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mallam Yusuf Isa, is to be arraigned before an Accra court within the next couple of days over the alleged loss of the US $46,000 Black Stars money.


Criminal charges of stealing and causing financial loss to the state are to be preferred against him.


Mallam Isa’s prosecution, said by sources to be on the orders of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Nana Akufo-Addo, follows a recommendation by a police investigations committee that the former minister “be held personally responsible for the missing $46,000.”


It further recommended that Mallam Isa “be made to refund the amount.”


Painstaking investigations by the Graphic into the matter have unearthed startling revelations leading to a demonstration of the government’s avowed policy of zero tolerance for corruption in a non-benign manner.


The committee’s findings were that the $46,000 was not kept in the suitcase as claimed by Mallam Isa, and that he was rather casual about the loss of the money.

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He also did not tell Kojo Bonsu of Ashtead fame and the GFA officials in Khartoum, The Sudan, about the amount of money missing, or details of the other items allegedly stolen.


The 30-page report states that the events in the former minister’s office as narrated by Mr Alexander Asante Sakyi, GFA Protocol Officer, and Mr Wolanyo Agrah, GFA General Secretary, were more credible than the statements of Mallam Isa and his witnesses.


During the course of the investigations, Mallam Isa told the committee that he carried an Audit Report on the GFA along on the trip to The Sudan and that he kept it in the suitcase together with the cash of $46,000.


Other items which were kept in the suitcase included an “agbada” (an embroidered garment) and a kente cloth. When the suitcase was found on February 28, this year, he opened it and found that the Audit Report as well as the “agbada” and the kente were lost.


According to the report, the Audit Report was found in the former minister’s house when he was later searched. On this basis, it was reasonable to infer that the money too was not kept in the suitcase, contrary to Mallam Isa’s claim.


When interrogated, Ayshetu Isa, the wife of the former minister, contradicted Mallam Isa’s assertion that she gave him ?2,500 for him to buy her some wares from the trip. The report said Ayshetu was “emphatic that she gave him $1,000 and not ?2,500 as Mallam claimed as part of the items that got lost”.

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Another point of reference stated in the report was the evidence given by the personal security guard of the former minister, Constable Joseph Maltiba Naab. He said when Mallam Isa was doing the final packing of his clothing in the office, prior to his departure, he brought out two brown envelopes from a carrier bag.


He put the smaller envelope, which obviously contained the $46,000 in a flat security brief case which he normally used each time he went to work at the ministry.


On that fateful day, the report indicated, Mallam Isa did not travel with that particular brief case and could not remember where he left the brief case before he left on the trip by a KLM flight initially to Amsterdam.


The report, therefore, suggested that if the statement of the personal security guard of Mallam Isa was anything to go by, then it presupposes that the Mallam did not travel with the money to Khartoum.


The report concluded strongly that the $46,000 was not stolen by Mr Alexander Asante Sakyi or Mr Wolanyo Agrah.


Furthermore, the damage caused to the green suitcase was the result of improper handling on its tortuous journey from Accra to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London and Khartoum rather than a deliberate act of anybody.

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Nonetheless, the security combination lock of the suitcase was functionally perfect and was, therefore, not forcibly opened.


It was also not possible to pull any of the items allegedly stolen from the suitcase, that is, $46,000 in a brown envelope, $2,500, two wrist watches, one complete set of “agbada”, kente cloth, and the Audit Report, through a small hole as a result of the damage to one of the wheels under the suitcase.


The report states that even though there was no credible evidence to suggest that the $46,000 was put in the green suitcase, it must have been the height of naivety for the former minister who claimed to be a much-travelled-person, to accept advice to keep such money in the suitcase to be kept in the cargo compartment of an aircraft.


No matter whatever he did, he, and only he, must be held responsible for the loss of the money, the report categorically accuses Mallam Isa.


Members of the special investigation committee, set up by the Inspector-General of Police, were Mr W. Sam-Awortwi, Commissioner of Police (Legal and Prosecution), chairman; Nene Sasraku, Superintendent of Police (Internal Audit) and Mr Issaka Salami, Superintendent of Police (Economic Crime Bureau).


Ever since the missing $46,000 scandal broke out last month, public reaction has been huge and startling. Incredible lots of angry commentaries were made on television, radio and in the print media condemning the judgement of the former minister for the manner in which he handled the alleged loss of the money.

Mallam Isa himself had challenged the government in the furore that emerged over his alleged resignation as minister in the media after which he was instantly dismissed by President J. A. Kufuor on March 15, this year.


The intended trial of Mallam Isa promises to be a test case for the government as well as an historic one, whichever way it goes.

Source: Graphic
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