Hundreds of residents of Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, on Sunday, defied the heat from the scotching sun and marched through the main street in an attempt to catch the attention of President Akufo-Addo.
They want the president to take another look at the imprisonment of Abuga Pele – former National Coordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).
They believe that the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga was unfairly treated and made scapegoat, while other government appointees who deserve to be punished for their roles in the YEA infraction are roaming freely.
The demonstrators claimed Abuga Pele’s status had been reduced from a ‘statesman’ to a ‘scapegoat,’ wondering why the people who actually approved the payment are walking freely.
A section of the crowd
“A scapegoat because there are big personalities who squandered monies. We all know for a fact that Humado was indeed the one who signed [those contracts]. And why is Humado roaming? He’s free out there and Abuga Pele is languishing in prison. This is not justice. It is absolutely unacceptable,” ranted Maxwell Akanuwe, Assemblyman for the Longo Electoral Area, at a rally later in the afternoon.
They held placards, some of which read, “Free Abuga Pele,” “Justice For All; Let Justice Prevail,” “Abuga Pele Does Not Deserve This,” “Abuga Is The Man Of The People” and “Where is Kofi Humado?”
This is the first time a large number of residents from all walks of life and with varying political backgrounds have come together to express their feelings since the former Member of Parliament and head of the GYEEDA was eventually imprisoned on February 23, 2018 – after a legal battle that lasted for over four years.
“First and foremost, the sector minister gave a limitation to Hon. Abuga Pele as the National Youth Employment Coordinator, as to how much he can disburse at a time, thus, not beyond GH¢20,000. What baffles us is how an amount of GH¢4.1 million was able to be released without recourse to the directives by the minister and the procurement procedure as enshrined in the law. We believe there is a lacuna and somebody, aside Hon Abuga Pele, should be giving explanation to this issue,” spokesperson of the residents, Donald Tumyeridam, told the media.
In as much as the residents want the government to go after anyone who embezzles state funds, they also want the government to ensure that weak and innocent people who occupy public positions are not punished in place of the strong and influential.
They want the government to revisit the case and ask some more questions so as to unravel how some monies were spent and who the real culprits are.
“We have been told from the GYEEDA outfit, led by Adongo Atule Jacob – who was a key witness – that $5m was expended on preparatory activities, including the trip to Latin America, which had government officials travelling there to understudy a similar project sponsored by the World Bank to help replicate same in Ghana. The issue now is, if there was no contract between GYEEDA and Goodwill International Group, how come that $5 million out of the $65 million was expended? More interesting is the fact that Elvis Afriyie Ankrah led the delegation to Latin America. More important is the fact that Adongo, as a key witness, said all these revelations were not disputed when he appeared before the court,” they noted.
Abuga Pele will be spending six years in prison, if nothing happens to the high court judgement, delivered on February 23, 2018.
He was jailed along with Philip Assibit for willfully causing financial loss to the state.
From Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Paga