Government has successfully secured a nine-floor Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) building at Ridge to house the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).
The documents spell out the chronology of events, revealing how the former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu himself caused the delays in government’s efforts to grant his wishes.
A memo from the Chief Director at Jubilee House addressed to the Chief of Staff, dated August 18, 2020, detailed efforts the government has made to provide a decent accommodation for the Office of the Special Prosecutor, as well as recruit staff for the office.
The Chief Director at Jubilee House, Mr. H.M. Wood noted that his office has had several engagements with the Special Prosecutor since the office was created.
According to him, on September 17, 2018, a meeting was held at the office of the Chief of Staff, Mrs. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare during which the challenges confronting the Office of the Special Prosecutor were discussed, and Mr. Martin Amidu was present.
He said the meeting agreed that the Chief of Staff would assist to resolve the urgent issues militating against the take-off of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, and a committee was set up to identify a suitable building to be used as office of the Special Prosecutor.
Cluster of buildings at Cantonments
According to him, the committee, together with the Deputy Chief of Staff, started the search the next day and identified a cluster of buildings consisting of one two-storey building and two single-storey buildings opposite the Bank Hospital at Cantonments.
Mr. Wood stated that the committee, together with the Deputy Chief of Staff, the Special Prosecutor, and Secretary to the Special Prosecutor, along with some staff of the Ministry of Works and Housing, inspected the buildings on September 20, 2018, and after the inspection, the Special Prosecutor expressed the desire to use the premises as his office.
In view of this, he said the Ministry of Works and Housing immediately took measurements of the buildings and was ready to do the necessary alterations to befit the status of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, and Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) was invited by the Office of the Special Prosecutor on September 21, 2018 to inspect and expedite action on the renovation works.
SP preferred GNTC building
However, the chief director said on October 4, 2018, the Special Prosecutor, through a phone call to him, stated that he had identified a building belonging to the defunct Ghana National Trading Company (GNTC) close to the British High Commission at Ringway Estates, and indicated his preference for that building instead of the cluster of buildings at Cantonments.
In response, he said the Chief of Staff, in a letter dated October 4, 2018, instructed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to release the building, which was done in a letter dated October 5, 2018.
In order to secure the property, he said the Office of the President erected a fence wall around the building to ward off encroachers, while due process was initiated to award the contract for the renovation of the building.
SP chooses GETFund building
According to him, while the renovation of the GNTC building was ongoing, the Special Prosecutor halted the process and requested that a 10-storey office building at Ridge belonging to GETFund be renovated for him for occupation, and this was also obliged to.
Following a meeting between the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Special Prosecutor, GETFund, on April 2, 2019, at the Office of the President, which discussed the roadmap for the renovation of the building, a team of representatives from Consar Limited and Evans-Anfom and Associates met on April 3, 2019 to conduct a joint inventory and inspection of the facility.
Mr. Wood noted that during the inspection, some defects were identified and documented for repair works.
Subsequently, he said, the Special Prosecutor generated his own list of defects in an eight-page report, which the contractors accepted, compared and merged to have a comprehensive work schedule.
He explained that though the liability period for the GETFund building elapsed per the contract agreement between GETFund and Consar Limited, the contractor agreed to repair all the defects and restore the building to its original state.
The chief director stated that on May 14, 2020, Consar completed the remedial works on the building and the project was inspected by GETFund and duly certified as ready to be handed over to the Office of Special Prosecutor.
SP change plans
On July 10, 2020, he said, the Office of the Special Prosecutor wrote to inform his office that its 2020 procurement plan had been approved and that the award of a sole source contract for the 10-storey GETFund building into a suitable office accommodation and divisions of the office was part of the approved plan.
Mr. Wood said his office granted the OSP the permission to put in motion the procurement process to enable it award the single source contract for the conversion of the said building into suitable office accommodation and divisions.
At this point, he said, GETFund had expressed its intention to offer the building for sale and his office had also agreed to acquire it for the OSP.
Pending the conclusion of the purchase, he said, a rental agreement was reached with GETFund for a period of three months to enable the OSP move in and occupy three of the floors since the owner of Amidu’s 3-bedroom office had informed his office of her intention not to renew the rent agreement when it expires.
SP rejects temporary arrangement
According to the chief director, Mr. Amidu rejected the three-month rental agreement on grounds that OSP would not want to share the building with any other party for security concerns.
He explained that since his office granted the OSP permission to put in motion, the procurement process that would enable it award a single source contract for the conversion of the said building into suitable accommodation, and divisions, the request to the OSP to fix a date convenient for the handing over of the building could not have been made inadvertently as Amidu claims.
He stated that from precedence, it was not unusual for government to provide temporary facility for a public institution such as the OSP while efforts are being made to secure a suitable accommodation as his office has demonstrated.
The chief director insists that the numerous engagements with Mr. Amidu on several matters, including recruitment of officers and procurement of office equipment to enable the OSP discharge its mandate, are proof that the commitment of his office towards the President’s cause to set up a working OSP was never in doubt.
He said the issue of locked fire-resistant filing cabinets had not been brought to his attention until now, assuring that efforts would have been made to get the security codes for him to open the cabinets and change the codes if he wishes, had the OSP alerted him.
On the issue of salaries, Mr. Wood explained that it is the responsibility of the OSP to set up its own management unit to manage budget for compensation and payroll activities of its employees since the OSP is an autonomous entity.
According to him, his office has no direct obligations to be involved in salary matters unless the OSP seeks assistance or advice from his office in that regard.
He noted that when it came to the notice of the Human Resources Management Directorate of his office that the Special Prosecutor and his Deputy had accepted their appointments, they quickly contacted the Controller and Accountant General’s staff at the OSP to discuss with the Special Prosecutor the processes for payment of the salaries of the two officers.
Source: ABC News