Government says it has asked the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to investigate the infamous journalists’ bribery scandal that has rocked the Information Ministry and the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), where government officials are blowing cash on journalists to influence them.
Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said the issue about the audio recording which was alleged to contain the voice of his colleague Deputy Minister, Mohammed Baba Jamal, had been referred to the BNI to ascertain its veracity or otherwise.
The BNI has been tasked to determine whether the voices on the tape are indeed those of the individuals mentioned, especially Baba Jamal, said Ablakwa on Joy FM yesterday.
But even before the BNI start the investigation, Dr. Kwesi Anning, a Research Fellow at Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Centre has poured cold water on it, saying much should not be expected from the probe.
According to Dr Anning, he did not have faith in the BNI probe because nothing would come out of it, pointing out the numerous investigations carried out by the security agency under the Mills administration which did not yield results.
On Thursday, August 4, 2011, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) unveiled the names, identities and bank accounts of journalists who had allegedly been engaged by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to help them win the 2012 general elections through positive publicity, describing it as a gross abuse of power, corruption and blatant misuse of public money.
The names of the recruited journalists had been added to the National Youth Employment (NYEP) payroll, and distributed to various media houses, particularly state-owned media, ostensibly to give it credibility in order to elude the prying eyes of auditors whenever the accounts of the NYEP were audited.
Despite the fact that some of the journalists whose names have popped up as beneficiaries of the scheme including Joy FM’s Joseph Osei Owusu have virtually confirmed having been given one of the appointment letters by the Enquirer newspaper’s Samuel Abaane, the convener and organizer of the meeting, government, came out yesterday to condemn the allegation.
Though government believed the tape making the rounds could not be the voice of Baba Jamal, the Deputy Minister is on record to have told public servants to embellish and distort news and information to favour the Mills/Mahama administration.
Not too long ago, he told staff of the Information Services Department that their job was to embellish government even when the government was at fault, saying that if government bought a sheep, they should say it was a cow.
In a statement which bore the signature of Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, government described the story as “baseless, ridiculous and shameful”, accusing the opposition NPP of making desperate attempts to accuse it of bribing journalists, claiming that it was an attempt by the NPP to paint Ghanaian journalists as venal.“It has become clear that the whole accusation has turned out to be a poorly orchestrated plot which is fast becoming a nightmare for the NPP,” the statement said, indicating that the names and account numbers the NPP presented to the press revealed that the said account numbers are forged.
“Not only is there no bank in Ghana with such account numbers which is also why the NPP could not state any bank their concocted account numbers belong to,” the statement said.
That notwithstanding, Okudzeto Ablakwa stated ,“the NPP’s machination gets even more embarrassing and you cannot help but feel some sympathy for the NPP when you find out that two of the journalists in the NPP’s bribe list, namely Samuel Akapule of the GNA and Jalulah Nsarebor of the Chronicle both have the same so-called bank account number being 10743-5323/11.”
It also described as despicable the NPP’s assertion that it would not be surprised if the Ghana Police Service and the Electoral Commission were next on government’s list of those targeted to be bribed.
Some of the beneficiaries included Gifty Amoshie of A1 Radio, Abotiyine Akayete with account number 10743-53361/11, Felix Dagba Lambert of URA/Radio Ghana, Sophia Kumi, also of URA/Radio Ghana, Foster Aggor of Style FM with the account number 10743-5323/11 and Samuel Akapule of the Ghana News Agency (GNA).
The rest included one Osmand of Word FM, Joseph Osei Owusu of Joy FM with account number 10743-5333/11, William Jalula Nsarebor of The Chronicle newspaper with account number 10743-5323/11, Madam Fati of GNA, Abdul Hamid of the Daily Graphic with account number 1073-5361/11, one Alhaji of the Ghanaian Times, Abraham Dimie also of Radio Ghana and one Abdula Issaka of Metro TV with account number 10743-5346/11.
Source: Charles Takyi-Boadu
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