Investiogations by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has implicated four persons in relation to the GHc 10 million forgery saga saddling the Northern Development Authority (NDA) in the award of a contract to A&Q’s Consortium (A&Q’s).
The four include Mr Sumaila Abdul-Rahman, Chief Executive of NDA, Mr Stephen Yir-eru Engmen, the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) of NDA, Mr Patrick Seidu, Deputy Chief Executive (Finance & Administration) of NDA and Mr Andrew Kuundaari, the Chief Executive A&QS Consortium Limited.
A letter dated January 27, 2022, from the former Acting NDA CEO, Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya to the Chief of Staff at the Presidency said his signature had been forged in the award of a contract to A&Q’s Consortium (A&Q’s) in the sum of ¢10,400,000 under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP),
The forgery, he said, was done while he was in office.
He noted in the letter that the only contract he signed with the consortium in question was on January 28, 2020, and at a sum of GHc5, 720,000 after the Public Procurement Authority gave the approval to use sole sourcing to recruit A&Q’s Consortium for the purpose of the IPEP.
He added, “even though the award letter I signed has an amount of GHc5, 720,000, I have sighted a doctored version of the award letter which indicates I purportedly signed Consultancy Supervision Contract with A&Q’s Consortium under the IPEP at a cost of ten million four hundred thousand (10,400,000) cedis.”
A petition was submitted to the OSP in June 2022 by Mr Martin Luther Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, for investigations into the allegations.
In July, the Office announced investigations had commenced.
In the course of the investigations, the Office said, twenty (20) persons were interviewed over a period of four (4) months, as part of the investigation.
In his report, the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, said in 2019, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) approved a request by then Acting CEO of NDA, Dr Majeed Abdul Haroun to contract the services of A&QS Consortium Limited for forty-one (41) constituencies across four (4) regions at an amount of Twenty-One Million Three Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC21,320,000.00) in August 2019.
No contract was however signed between the NDA and A&QS, the OSP found.
This was rubbished by Dr Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya who took office in December 2019 and allotted A&QS with just 11 constituencies in the Upper West Region under a contract sum of GHC5,720,000.00 for consultancy services for specific projects under the IPEP.
Attempts were made by Mr Kuundaari, the Chief Executive of A&QS, to cause the Authority to pay more than what was stipulated in the contract under Dr Anamzoya- which the OSP said was borne out of “mischief”.
“By a letter dated 10 February 2020, Mr Kuundaari, for reasons unfathomable, submitted what he described as a final list and estimates for IPEP projects of thirteen (13) constituencies on behalf of A&QS for the consideration of NDA. These comprised the eleven (11) constituencies in the Upper West Region and two (2) other constituencies in the Savannah Region – Bole Bamboi and Sawla-Tuna-Kalba. This was so though Mr Kuundaari had been fully apprised, just two weeks prior, that A&QS had been restricted to an allotment of eleven (11) constituencies in the Upper West Region.
“Then came two (2) prominent invoices submitted by Mr Kuundaari on behalf of A&QS before the exit of Dr Anamzoya. The first was transmitted by a letter dated 20 April 2020 for pre-contract professional consultancy fees of an amount of Ten Million Six Hundred and Sixty Thousand cedis (GHC10,660,000.00) for inception design of brief report and submission of engineering design, preparation of drawings, cost estimates and tender documents, with an outstanding amount of Two Million Eight Hundred and Sixty Thousand (GHC2,860,000.00) described as representing tendering and construction supervision of eleven (11) constituencies. Mr Kuundaari stated the total contract sum or financial position in this invoice as Thirteen Million Five Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC13,520,000.00). The stated total contract sum in that invoice was seemingly plucked out of the air by Mr Kuundaari, without any reference to the actual contractual relationship between NDA and A&QS.”
“The second invoice was covered by a letter dated 26 June 2020. It was for precontract professional consultancy fee of an amount of Three Million One Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC3,120,000.00) for inception design of brief report and submission of engineering design, preparation of drawings, cost estimates and tender documents. This figure was represented as thirty percent (30%) of a total contract sum or total financial position of Ten Million Four Hundred Thousand cedis (GHC10,400,000.00) with a stated outstanding balance of Seven Million Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand cedis (GHC7,280,000.00) described as representing tendering and construction supervision of eleven (11) constituencies. The baselessness of this invoice was also clear, at least, in terms of the stated total contract sum and consultancy fee for eleven (11) constituencies. And there was no apparent reason or justification for the stated total contract sum of Ten Million Four Hundred Thousand cedis (GHC10,400,000.00).”
According to the OSP, the invoices were alien, unsupportable and disingenuous creations of Mr Kuundaari and were not honoured during the era of Dr Anamzoya.
Mr Kuundaari followed up on 27th May 2021 with another invoice demanding payment after Dr Anamzoya’s appointment was terminated in 2021.
Payments were honoured when Mr Abdul-Rahman took over as Acting Chief Executive of NDA on 2 August 2021, per the report.
“By claiming on behalf of A&QS a total contract sum or total financial position of Ten Million Four Hundred Thousand cedis (GHC10,400,000.00) with a stated outstanding balance of Seven Million Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand cedis (GHC7,280,000.00) in the 26 June 2020 invoice, which also found its way in the 27 May 2021 invoice, Mr Kuundaari was knowingly demanding an amount of Four Million Six Hundred and Eighty Thousand cedis (GHC4,680,000.00) in excess of the total contract sum of Five Million Seven Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC5,720,000.00).”
The company claimed pre-contract fees on the ground that it had undertaken pre-contractual works on forty-one (41) constituencies in the form of site surveys, designs, drawings and estimates and that that bundle of work was handed over to the four (4) other consulting entities, the report said.
This was attested by a letter of acceptance by Mr Stephen Yir-eru Engmen, the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at the NDA.
“It was dated 12 August 2019 and addressed to the Director, A&QS and to the attention of Mr Kuundaari. In the letter, Mr Engmen purportedly accepted, 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.
Investigations found that Mr Engmen wrote that acceptance letter to A&QS before an application was made by NDA for PPA approval of the procurement of A&QS under the IPEP and before NDA awarded a contract to A&QS.
3 Faulted NDA Officials
Per the findings, Mr Abdul-Rahman, Mr Engmen and Mr Seidu, in their various capacities, actions, and positions, pushed through and approved or contributed to cause the approval of the 26 June 2020 and the 27 May 2021 invoices for payment, without lawful authority.
“By their acts, the three (3) men pushed through for approval and/or approved payment to A&QS of the amounts of Three Million One Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC3,120,000.00) and Five Million Two Hundred and Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty cedis (GHC5,208,840.00) totalling Eight Million Three Hundred and Twenty-Eight Thousand cedis Eight Hundred and Forty cedis (GHC8,328,840.00).
“The approved payments summed up in excess of Two Million Six Hundred and Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty cedis (GHC2,608,840.00) of the total contract sum of Five Million Seven Hundred and Twenty Thousand cedis (GHC5,720,000.00) approved by PPA and at which A&QS was contracted by NDA. And in the estimation of Mr Kuundaari and the three (3) men in charge at NDA, A&QS still had an outstanding amount of Two Million Seventy-One Thousand One Hundred and Sixty cedis (GHC2,071,160.00) payable by NDA.”
The OSP reckons that Mr Abdul-Rahman might have been ignorant of the actual contractual relationship between NDA and A&QS when he initially took office while processing the 26 June 2020 invoice, however, in March 2022 he pushed through and forwarded the request for payment though he was abreast with PPA’s 2020 amended approval and failed to act upon the already-honoured invoice.
The four actors in the Procurement Breaches have therefore been referred for criminal prosecution.
This is in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).
Source: opemsuo.com/Hajara Fuseini