Legal Team Of Francisca Oteng Denies Conflict Of Interest Allegations
The legal team of Ms Francisca Oteng-Mensah, the Deputy Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, has rubbished allegations of conflict-of-interest against their client, as the petitioner has failed to produce evidence to support his claims.
According to the legal team, Ghartey&Ghartey, the petition, as submitted, had “no facts that would support the belief that our client has been involved in a conflict of interest situation. There is without question, no basis for the belief that there has been a conflict-of-interest situation.”
MsOteng-Mensah, a former Board Chairperson of the National Youth Authority (NYA), between 2017 and 2021, is being investigated by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), following a petition by one Ismail Mohammed, a resident of Nima in Accra, on January 21, 2021, accusing her of using her influence to lead the board in approving the procurement of sanitisers from a company, she is a director and shareholder in.
In a report by an online portal, The Fourth Estate, and sighted by The Anchor, lawyers of the Kwabre East lawmaker,denied the allegations; highlighting that she “never ‘participated’, ‘deliberated’ and ‘presided’ over the purchase of hand sanitisers from Adonko Bitters Limited, as alleged by the petitioner.”
The lawyers for the MP, explained, the mere fact that the NYA board chair was linked to Adonko Bitters, where the NYA bought hand sanitizers, did not put her in a conflict of interest situation.
“Respectfully, our client admits that she is and remains a director and shareholder of Adonko Bitters Limited. She was also a director and shareholder of Adonko Bitters Limited during the period, a subject matter of this petition.
However, she is not in any way responsible for the day-to-day management of Adonko Bitters Limited. She is not an employee or a marketing and sales executive for the company. Our client submits, further, that she is not an executive director of Adonko Bitters Limited,” the response to CHRAJ stated.
The NYA board chair, according to her lawyers, “never ‘participated’, ‘deliberated’ and ‘presided’ over the purchase of hand sanitizers from Adonko Bitters Limited as alleged by the petitioner”.
An invoice from Adonko Bitters Limited, payment vouchers and a cheque from the NYA attached to the response to CHRAJ, according to Francisca’s lawyers, indicate that the purchase of and payment for the hand sanitizers preceded the March 31, 2020 meeting, cited by the petitioner as having discussed the Covid-19 expenditure.
It said NYA paid GH¢68,980.58 to Adonko Bitters, for the supply of 290 cartons of hand sanitizers, on March 29, 2020.
The attached documents show that the invoice from Adonko Bitters and the Bank of Ghana cheque for payment are dated March 29, 2020. The cheque payment voucher from the NYA to the Bank of Ghana is, however, dated March 27, 2020, two days before the invoice was received.
The lawyers said the amount was within the Public Procurement Authority’s threshold that the CEO of the NYA could approve without seeking the board’s approval, a reason the board was not involved in the deal.
They told CHRAJ that the petitioner did not produce any evidence that links the board chair to the transaction.
Meanwhile; the Member of Parliament for Essikado-Ketan and Senior Partner at Ghartey and Ghartey, Joe Ghartey, told The Fourth Estate that CHRAJ’s investigation into the allegation had unduly delayed.
He said this was a straightforward matter and that his client had provided all the necessary documents and evidence to enable CHRAJ arrive at a conclusion. He says this was not a case that should travel over a year.
He strongly believes the MP and board chair is innocent and that the delay amounts to justice being denied her.
On the deputy ministerial nomination of Francisca Oteng-Mensah, Joe Ghartey, who is a former minister of Justice and Attorney-General, believes the current probe by CHRAJ should not impede her appointment.
He says the law only bars persons that have been found guilty by commissions of enquiry and not the mere fact that an allegation has been leveled against someone and that allegation is being investigated.
According to him, if allegations and investigations are used to stop people from holding office, anybody could be paid to make allegations against a person nominated to serve a public office, in order to stop them.
Ghartey insists Francisca Oteng-Mensah is innocent and wants CHRAJ to expedite its investigation and come out with a conclusion.