STRANEK demands independent probe into Oslo Chancery Brouhaha


Policy think tank, Strategic Thinkers Network (STRANEK), is calling for an independent probe into the Oslo Chancery saga.

STRANEK in a statement said it would be important for an independent probe into the matter following recent publication by AfricaWatch Magazine, the same publishers sued  by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway.

The issue of government’s decision to purchase two properties in Oslo, Norway- one for the Chancery and the other for the ambassador’s residence came to the front burner few months ago.

It is recalled that the issue generated heated debate both in Parliament and in the media space, resulting in a near confrontation between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament.

 

Read below the full statement

OSLO CHANCERY RESIDENCE; AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY NEEDED-STRANEK*

On 6th March 2018, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo did not mince words in his speech at the independence parade when he said “Fellow Ghanaians, corruption, or, more specifically, the stealing of public funds, continues to hold back the development of our nation. Corruption is not a partisan matter and we must all act to protect the public purse,”. Similarly, in an earlier remark in an interview on BBC on 12th December 2016, Nana Addo made it clear that not only would the fight against corruption be limited to officials of the previous administration but he also warned that people in his government would not be “immune from investigation merely because we are politicians”. However, STRANEK-Africa has learnt that whiles the government has never relaxed, and marshalled all forces in pursuing and initiating prosecution against alleged corrupt officials in the previous NDC Government, the same government is seen lackadaisically dragging its feet in pursuing and investigating alleged corrupt practices in the Nana Akufo-Addo led Government for reasons best known to them.

In September 2018 the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration announced its intention to establish a full embassy in Oslo, Norway and which was officially opened on 21st November 2018. Following the Ministry’s submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, the NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu raised red alert regarding the discrepancies in the purchased price.

Defending the attempted purchase in a press statement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is reported to have said that “the said building was initially an office and later converted into a residence. The ongoing renovation is to restore the building back to an office complex.” The question we ask is, under whose request was the building located at No. 3 Sigyns Gate, 0260 Oslo opposite the Frogner Park in Oslo being converted back into an office complex?

Juxtaposing this to the scores of information and investigative revelations by Africa Watch and independent verifiers, we have little to believe the information emanating from the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. More so, Considering that the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs is yet to receive a copy of the letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs purporting to have suspended the purchase on 12th December 2018, and the unavailability of the response from the seller whiles a Ghanaian delegation went to Oslo to inspect the property 13th December, 2018, there is much to worry about.

We ask, why did Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey write a letter suspending the planned purchase of the proposed Oslo Chancery after Hon. Samuel Ablakwa, Africawatch and the Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen raised red alert? Is President Akufo-Addo’s disinterest in instituting a commission to investigate these allegations a sign that there was nothing wrong with the dealings and that he is only waiting for the boiling water to cool and will re-commit the country into the purchase? Are the claims by the Norwegian workers in the No. 3 Sigyns Gate building, 0260 Oslo that the building is being renovated for use as Embassy by Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration captured in the viral videos not worrying enough to question the dealings? If the available information is anything to go by, what then is the full liabilities bourn by the state and who pays for it? This should not escape our thoughts.

It is very disappointing for a President who never missed an opportunity to cash-in on alleged corrupt practices by appointees of former administration in the run-up to the 2016 elections to take such a position.

STRANEK-Africa supports the call for an independent inquiry into the attempted purchase of the Oslo Chancery located at No. 3 Sigyns Gate, 0260 Oslo opposite the Frogner Park in Oslo and why the purchase was aborted.

Signed.

Emmanuel Osei
Director of Policy and Political Affairs (STRANEK-AFRICA, policy think tank)
Party Membership Management Consultant
University of Bergen, Norway
+47 412 45 303

Nii Tettey Tetteh
Executive Director
+233 249 659 467
Email: stranek.gh@gmail.com

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