General News of Monday, 5 September 2011

Source: The Herald

Wikileaks: Why Kufuor Sacked Francis Poku

At long last, the reason why Mr. Francis Poku, ex-President John Kufour’s Minister of National Security was fired on January 12, 2007, is here.

According to secret documents prepared by officials of the United States in Accra, and released the whistleblower website, Wikileaks, Mr. Poku’ was sacked by Mr. Kufuor for sending of Brigadier General Robert Sackey, head of Ghana’s Military Intelligence, to Israel in December 2007 on a liaison trip, unknown to Kufour.

This served as the last straw that broke the camel’s back in a relationship between the President and his security capo that had become tensed over time.

“Kufuor was also allegedly upset with Poku for his failure to share the full details of The Bureau of National Investigations’ (BNI’s) election polling which could have potentially informed Kufuor earlier about Alan Kyerematen’s lack of popular support.

“Kufuor was surprised and embarrassed when Kyerematen lost the New Patriotic Party (NPP) nomination in December 2007, according to sources. Poku’s favorite for the NPP nomination was former Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo”.

According to the “Following this trip, Saki prepared a trip report which ended up in the hands of J.K. Mensah, the Director of the Research Department at The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Mensah, who allegedly felt passed over in 2006 when Poku was appointed Minister, shared the report with Kufuor.

“Kufuor, according to sources, was upset about the trip to Israel because Poku had not informed him about it. “Calling Poku to task on Saturday morning in front of Yaw Gyimah, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Frank Adu Poku, Head of Ghana Police’s Criminal Investigations Department, Kufuor asked Poku why he had not been informed of the mission to Israel.

“Poku allegedly told Kufuor that he was ‘on a need to know basis’ and that the mission was part of his duties as Minister.

“Kufuor became more upset with Poku after these statements and asked for his resignation. When Poku refused to resign, Kufuor sacked him”

According to comments from the United States’ Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Pamela Bridgewater on the matter, “Poku generated many enemies during his time as Minister. Mensah, of the MFA, felt passed over when Poku was named Minister in 2006. The Ghana Police had their own problems with Poku as did the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

“Poku was also implicated by some parties in the 2006 cocaine scandals and some alleged that he regularly received money from former Assistant Commissioner of Police Kofi Boakye, who was also implicated in the scandals.

“It is unclear at this point who will succeed Poku as Minister although both Dr. Sam Amoo, the current National Security Coordinator and J.K. Mensah at the MFA have been suggested as possible replacements.

“It is also quite possible that the position, only created in 2006, could remain empty for Kufuor’s final year in office.

“It is too early to tell what effect Poku’s sacking will have on the Government of Ghana (GOG), however we expect security cooperation to remain strong.

“As for Poku, he will likely be fine as sources have told us that he has benefitted from his time in office and has amassed considerable wealth”.

In another cable shortly after the sacking, the US embassy talked to Washington about the embarrassing house arrest of Mr. Poku.

The Wikileaks reports confirmed that On January 16, elements of the Ghana Police and military surrounded former Minister of National Security Francis Poku,s home, effectively placing him under house arrest.

The Wikileaks sources said that the Government took this step because Poku had refused to answer questions from some GOG officials about his tenure as Minister of National Security.

“Poku was then given an ultimatum to appear at ‘Australian House’ (government’s official guest house) on January 16 to ‘debrief’ government officials.

The house arrest was apparently imposed to encourage Poku to attend the meeting. However, Poku still refused and therefore was taken against his will to the Australian House to undergo questioning.

“Sources said that Poku visited his office over the weekend, and shredded documents, and took some films from his office which now cannot be located.

“GOG officials are also concerned that Poku may have been using government resources for his personal benefit and wanted additional details from him.

“Sources said that Poku returned home later on January 16 under a police escort which remained outside his residence until he departed for further ‘debriefing’ on January 17.

Comments from the US Ambassador stated that: “News of Poku’s detention, however, spread quickly as media outlets learned of Poku’s house arrest. It is unclear so far the purpose of the “debriefing” and why Poku refused to participate until coerced.

“Poku was doing things unknown to President Kufuor, as reported the ‘debriefing’ could be an attempt by the government to learn of other activities he was carrying out that he failed to inform the President about.

“The Kufuor government at the time remained largely silent on Poku’s removal from office and subsequent actions, saying only that he has been removed from his duties and must ‘debrief’ the government on his tenure”.