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Opinions Sat, 10 Jan 2004

NPP Harassment Of Innocent Kofi Totobi Quakyi

True to form, THE NPP HAVING SEEN THE WRITING ON THE WALL THAT IT IS GOING TO LOSE THE DECEMBER ELECTIONS, has intensified implementation of its diabolical plans at disorganizing its Opposition and engage leading members of the NDC in spurious and wasteful court actions. If they keep them occupied at the courts in the election year, the Opposition will not concentrate on campaigning, the NPP foolishly thinks.

Is it not curious that only members of the Opposition appear before BNI, SFO, Ghana POLICE, even though appointees of NPP who have caused a colossal loss of $35 million to the State on the VRA/SRP Plant have not been INVITED by BNI and other State bodies for that and other corrupt deals?

On January 7, 2003 (last year) whilst NPP was doing its People Assembly, Nana Alex Asamoah, the NDC Western Regional Chairman was grabbed by Police on NPP orders, even though NPP Minister of State and Appointee, Ishmael Ashitey and Reginald Niibi Ayibonte, were the known culprits dealing illegally in Pre-Mixed Petrol Distribution.

On January 7, 2004 (this year) whilst the NPP was again at its People?€™s Assembly, Kofi Totobi Quakyi, a leading member of the NDC doing work in the Western Region for the NDC, and former National Security Coordinator, was grabbed by the BNI, an outfit formerly under his control during the NDC era.

What is with NPP, Western Region and Arrests of NDC leaders on January 7 Date? What is there about the Western Region? Is the NDC DOING SOMETHING RIGHT THERE? Is Western Region the place that would decide which party or presidential comes up on top in December 2004?

Was it not January 7th , 2001 that NDC handed over power to NPP in accord with 1992 Constitutional Provisions?

What does Kofi Totobi Quakyi have to do with Ghana Film Industry Corporation?

The following is the background story.

BACKGROUND STORY

Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC), which was previously under government subvention, was one of the companies listed for divestiture. The Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) handles the divestiture process.

Following an official visit to Ghana by a Malaysian delegation led by then Malaysian Minister for Information, a team of investors arrived to explore investment opportunities in Ghana. They visited several state-owned enterprises, which were on divestiture. Subsequently they expressed interest in several joint ventures including one in the film industry.

In August 1996 Kofi Totobi Quakyi led a delegation to pay a reciprocal visit to Malaysia. It was at the invitation of the Malaysia Minister of Information. Among the places visited were TV3 where a presentation on its operation/structure was made. They also confirmed their interest in a joint venture with GFIC, which they hoped would be a flagship in Ghana-Malaysia relations and South-South Co-operation.

At the end of the visit, the investors expressed the wish to complete formal negotiations with DIC so that the Malaysian Prime Minister could inaugurate the film industry joint venture project during his official visit. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed proposing the various steps to be taken for early completion of negotiations.

The Malaysians followed up between September and October and dealt with the DIC. Kofi Totobi Quakyi was not directly involved. In fact, it was election time and he was busy on the field. A few days before the arrival of the Prime Minister, a Joint Venture Agreement was sent to the Ministry for my signature.

In the year 2001, the National Security Office (Castle Annex) set up a committee to investigate the divestiture of GFIC and ownership of TV3. The committee comprised Messrs Ntiamoah (Castle Annex), Victor Anti (former MD of GFIC) Kwao Ansah, Ankamah (Vice-President Office) and Ferdinand Ayim (Special Assistant to the Minister of Information). (Please note inclusion of Anti, KTQ chief accuser on the Committee of Enquiry). The Committee invited none of the accused.

As has been the pattern of the NPP government, the report of the Special Committee at the NSC was leaked to the Statesman and the Public Agenda opening the floodgates for malicious attacks on Kofi Totobi Quakyi. When the strategy had achieved its desired impact, the SFO was called in to deliver the coup de grace as it were. Kwame Peprah, Mr. Agbodo, Edward Addo (the Ghanaian partner), Kofi Nyantakyi, the Malaysian investors, Berifi Appenteng were interrogated at various times.

Finally, the SFO formally requested Messrs Kofi Totobi Quakyi, Kwame Peprah, Agbodo, Appenteng to give a caution statement in respect of a charge of causing financial loss to the state. Shortly thereafter, a report on the investigations signed by the Executive Director was submitted to the Castle Annex and the Minister of Information. Weeks later, The Daily Guide published a front-page story Totobi Quakyi Prime suspect for causing financial loss.

On January 7, 2004, Kofi Totobi Quakyi was formally charged on two counts:

i. Conspiracy to commit crime and;

ii. Dishonest disposal of government property.

Bail was set at ?8 billion cedis.

FACTS

1. The divestiture of state-owned enterprises is the statutory responsibility of DIC. Agbodo statement (copy available) explains the procedure and what happened in the case of the GFIC. The statement of the Malaysian Investor (copy available) is also instructive.

2. Questions have been raised over the valuation of the property. DIC used a valuation report prepared in 1995. The SFO in 2002 appointed its own valuer who placed the value (retrospectively!) at $3.9 million as against the $2 million equivalent contained in the original valuation.

In any case Kofi Totobi Quakyi has nothing to do with DIC valuation. The statement by the Malaysian indicates that no price could have been negotiated in Kuala Lumpur. KTQ signed the Joint Venture agreement in his capacity as the sector Minister. Interestingly, some of the properties listed in the GFIC assets were retrieved by the original owners because the leases had expired. The investors did not have access to them.

3. Kofi Totobi Quakyi insists he has absolutely no interest in TV3 and those who know him well know this can't be true.

Allegations that he is a Ghost Director in TV3 and GAMA is a figment of someones imagination

4. Statements that the archival material kept at the GFIC were also sold to the investors is absolutely incorrect. There is correspondence to prove that these were excluded. TV3 also pays rent to GFC for use of its facilities.

5. The sequence of events, the involvement of the NSC in the investigations, deliberate media leaks all clearly indicate Kofi Totobi Quakyi is the target. He is the big fish the government needs in this election year.

6. While the DIC law provides for valuation, it is not obliged to sell assets at the valued price. Valuation is for purposes of negotiations. Divestiture is also not only for purposes of raising revenue for government. It is primarily aimed at attracting investment to expand the productive potential of otherwise loss-making SOEs. In the case of GFC the Malaysian investors have so far brought in over $17 million and offered employment to several Ghanaians. In the long run, government is saving money it would have otherwise spent paying monthly subvention.

7. The Malaysian investors are reported to have offered their 70% shares in GFC back to GOG. There is ample opportunity to re-negotiate the agreement if government feels strongly about it. The government has taken a similar position in respect of VALCO. So why not Ghana Films Industry Corporation?

The inability of the NPP to fulfill its numerous campaign promises to the electorate in 2000 will be the yardstick it will be judged, notwithstanding all the crude methods it is using to harass its opponents in order to get voters on its side by fair or by foul methods.

NPP will fail!

Columnist: Katapila, Benson B.