Anti-corruption campaigner, Vitus Azeem, has little confidence in the Akufo-Addo administration’s ability to effectively probe the premix fuel diversion scandal, and possibly holding the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye culpable.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Azeem said he was questioning “not just capacity but the unwillingness and refusal [of the government] to deal with these things that they promised us, and got our votes to take over the reigns of governance of this country.”
As the scandal unfolds, the fact that the Minister had appointed her brother Joseph Botchwey, as the acting Administrator of the National Premix Secretariat at a point in time, has shocked many, with some calling for her resignation.
In view of the seeming conflict of interest in the matter, Mr. Azeem suggested that Mrs. Afoley Quaye must step down from her position.
“You come in as a minister and you say there is a new era and you handpick your own brother to be in charge of an area that ends up with these allegations, how do you raise your head in the public? Shouldn’t you say I am bowing out because of this mess I have caused to myself to the family and to the government that I am serving,” he questioned.
For Mr. Azeem, the handling of this scandal could be likened to the leniency meted out to the High Commissioner to South Africa, George Ayisi Boateng, who infamously besmirched his position with blatantly partisan comments, but to no significant consequence.
“Things like this should be dealt with quickly. Get these people out of the way. But this government doesn’t seem to be doing that. We cannot easily forget the South African High Commissioner’s case. They just glossed over them,” Mr. Azeem lamented.
However, there is still hope for the confidence Ghanaians have in the government’s anti-corruption fight if it handles this case well, Mr. Azeem added.
“These are clear credible allegations that have been discussed on the radio. Immediately get the investigation going and if the investigation comes out, make it public and sanction those that have been found to have fallen foul of the law. If you are able to do that to your own people, then we have the confidence that you are really determined to fight corruption.”
At least 200 cases of premix fuel diversions have been cited by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), since January 2017.
The Ministry of Energy, in May 2017, subsequently ordered the Fisheries Ministry to probe the companies alleged to be complicit in the fuel diversion, but that did not happen.
When quizzed on her role in the scandal by Citi News, Mrs. Afoley Quaye said the NPA was in a better position to act on the widespread diversion of premix fuel, because the Ministry did not have a tracking system to identify culprits.
Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, also defended her decision to appoint her brother as the acting Administrator of the National Premix Secretariat, saying he was competent enough, and has since left the position for a substantive person.
CID petitioned
Meanwhile, a civil society group calling itself the Fisheries Alliance, has petitioned the Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, to investigate the suspected premix fuel diversion scandal.
In a letter to the CID, the Alliance cited President Nana Akufo-Addo’s directive to ensure investigations into any corruption allegations against his appointees as the reason for their action.