Speaker Alban Bagbin and three other former Health Ministers have given statements to prosecutors in the issue relating to the purchase of some ambulances during the John Dramani Mahama administration.
A January 5, 2022, statement from Deputy Attorney General, Diana Asonaba Dapaah, disclosed that investigations into the ambulance gate had started in 2017, the first year of the first term of the Akufo-Addo government.
She was reacting to a 2021 Christmas Eve press conference by Member of Parliament for the Ejumako Enyan-Essiam, Cassiel Ato Forson, who accused the state of political witchhunt after he was slapped with financial crime charges late last year.
“Same (investigations) had been ongoing since 2017 with a number of statements taken from various persons at different points in time, including the Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, former Minister for Health (now Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana), Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, Madam Sherry Ayittey and Dr. Alex Segbefia, all former Ministers for Health as well as the first accused,” part of the statement read.
The Deputy AG stressed that the charges against Ato Forson were because all persons in Ghana are equal before the law. and that the status of a lawmaker is no bar to prosecution for a crime committed.
“Investigations into the ambulance purchase contract are being finalised by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service for the commencement of criminal proceedings against persons deemed fit for prosecution.”
The statement also dismissed assertions by Ato Forson that the charges he described as “e-charges” were because of his central role in the NDC’s opposition to the controversial E-levy contained in the 2022 budget.
“Further statements were taken from various persons. At that stage, no issue relating to the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy of the Government had come up,” the statement added.
“All persons in Ghana are equal before the law. The status of a Member of Parliament is no bar to prosecution for a crime committed,” it added.
Speaker Alban Bagbin was the Minister for Health in John Evans Atta Mills government from January 2012 until February 2013.
Hanny Sherry Ayittey took over the portfolio from February 2013 to June 2014.
Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah was appointed by President John Mahama to serve as the Minister of Health in June 2014 to replace Sherry Ayittey.
Alex Segbefia took over from May 2015 till January 2017 when the NDC left power with the coming into office of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government.
Charges brought against Ato Forson and two others – Additional file from 3news.com
Cassiel Ato Forson, who is also the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament together with two others, were dragged to the High Court on five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state.
According to the facts of the case, Dr Ato Forson, when he was a Deputy Finance Minister under the Mahama administration, executed a contract by the government of Ghana to purchase some 200 ambulances for the National Ambulance Service.
Despite the granting of a medium-term loan facility of €15.8 million for the 200 ambulances, only 10 were shipped to Ghana in 2014.
“A post-delivery inspection of the first batch of 10 ambulances revealed that same were without any medical equipment in them.
“Other fundamental defects included defects on the body of the vehicles and the patient compartment of the ambulances,” the writ noted.
The two other accused are Sylvester Anemana, who was a Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, and Richard Jakpa, the Ghana representative of Dubai-based Big Sea General Trading Limited.
While Sylvester Anemana has been charged for abetment of crime namely wilfully causing financial loss to the state contrary to Sections 20(1) and 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 and breaching the Public Procurement Act, Richard Jakpa is on a charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state “by intentionally causing vehicles purporting to be ambulances to be supplied to the Republic of Ghana by Big Sea General Trading Ltd of Dubai without due cause”.
Mr Ato Forson, who is the first accused, has additionally been charged for intentionally misapplying public property contrary to section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977.
He is said to have misapplied €2.37 million by causing irrevocable Letters of Credit to be established against the budget of the Ministry of Health in favour of the Dubai-based firm.