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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Columnist: Dzidza, Peter Mawunyo

Hon. E.K.T Hammond gone AWOL

By Peter Dzidza

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hon. E.K.T Hammond, NPP MP for Asukwa, who led the Parliamentary Choir (composed mainly of minority members of Parliament) to sing ‘’Woyome… gargantuan ecomini…’’ to the late President Atta Mills during the opening of Parliament in 2012, is reported to have gone into hiding over the sale of the GNPC’s drillship (Discoverer 511)—an unfolding event soon to become the mother of all corruption scandals in the history of Ghanaian politics.

Indeed, those who live in glass houses and still throw stones must be either foolhardy or mindless. As the crusade against the payment of judgement debts embarked upon by the NPP thickened, President Mahama had no choice than to dig into the bottom of the matter. This led to the appointment of the Sole Commissioner (Justice Apau) to investigate all judgement debts paid by the state.

Through the work of the Sole Commissioner, various judgement debts paid were heard but the most terrifying and heart-breaking one is the sale of the drillship Discoverer 511 by the NPP administration in early 2001. When the issue cropped up for the first time before the Sole Commissioner, the self-acclaimed errand boy of President Kufuor (Hon. E.K.T Hammond) who single-handedly sold the ship was on the airwaves, justifying why the ship needed to be sold. In fact, he blamed Tsatsu Tsikata, the former GNPC Chief Executive Officer, for negligence, which necessitated the sale of the drillship. The usual blame game—characteristic of the NPP since 2001—could not materialise in the case of the drillship. The strategy backfired and brought nothing but shame to not only those involved in the sale of the drillship but also the entire NPP administration that supervised the its disposal. When the issue concerning the drillship appeared before the Sole Commissioner for the first time, Hon. Hammond could not find wisdom in the old adage that “silence is golden” but thought he could “educate” Ghanaians with lies and propaganda as he granted numerous radio and television interviews to shift the blame as was the case in 2001. He, therefore, was at the beck and call of all radio stations with many contradictory stories. Besides, while holidaying abroad, he found it prudent to grant interview via phone for hours with many radio stations just to do the bidding of his superiors and hide the heinous crime perpetrated against the ordinary Ghanaians whose interest he claimed he was appointed to serve. He made us believe that there was a judgement against the GNPC at a London court and in their wisdom, the GNPC Board at the time decided to sell the drillship to defray the judgement debt caused by the Tsatsu Tsikata-led GNPC. He opined that as a Deputy Minister at the time, he was given the power of attorney by President Kufuor to sell the drillship. He subsequently travelled to London and sold the ship at 24 million Dollars. Out of the said amount, he claimed he paid one million dollars as legal fees, about 19.5 million dollars to the Societe Generale, and the rest (a 3.5 million-dollar cheque) was brought to Ghana and given to ex-President Kufuor. Indeed, up to now, not even one official from Societe Generale has admitted the payment of such a huge sum to company by the GNPC; neither was any paper trail found to support the transaction as claimed by Hon. Hammond. That’s even not all there is to the story. The 3.5 million-dollar cheque that Hon. Hammond claimed to have given to ex-President Kufuor could also not be traced by the Bank of Ghana. This anomaly has raised a huge suspicion about the whole transaction as a shoddy deal to dupe Ghana. Besides, the legal firm in London contracted by Hon. Hammond and paid a whopping one million dollars of the tax payers’ money was also found to be a former employer of the Hon. Hammond while he was in London practising law, which makes the entire transaction stink. The recent appearance of Dr. Amos Ofori Quaah (former Chief Executive Officer of GNPC during whose tenure the transaction took place) before the Judgement Debt Commission has broken the myth surrounding the sale of the drillship and nailed the Kufuor administration. The CEO admitted that he was not aware of any court judgement against the GNPC, and that he never saw any document in relating to that transaction. He was also emphatic that there was no Board in place to take such a vital decision in relation to the selling of the drillship, something that Tsatsu Tsikata continues to drive home but is taken with a pinch of salt by his opponents. After the stunning revelation by Dr. Quaah, Ghanaians expect Mr. Hammond to call the various radio stations as is characteristic of him to clarify the issues; but up till now, the outspoken MP hasn’t done so, making him “Missing In Action” (AWOL). Indeed, it is not only wrong for an adult to lie but it is also shameful for an MP to be running around radio stations with a pack of lies. What legacy do people of Mr. Hammond’s kind want to leave behind for posterity when they turn truth upside-down into lies? Or uplift lies as truth—thanks to the philosophy of the late reggae star, Lucky Dube?

Indeed, there is time for everything under the sun; and if there is time for the truth in relation to the sale of the Discoverer 511, then, it is now. The moment of truth is here and Ghanaians expect Hon. Hammond to come out from his hideout and spill the beans, if any, because the unfolding events surrounding the sale of the Discoverer 511 have negated the taunting noise of “Woyome… Woyome… Woyome… oooo… gargantuan ecomini…” on the floor of Parliament and political platforms.

And the fraudulent disposal of the drillship and its proceeds will go into the Guinness Book of Records as the mother of all corrupt deals in Ghana for there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open (Luke 8:17, NIV).

By Peter Mawunyo Dzidza dzidza70@gmail.comn