CHRAJ Exonerates Deputy Gender Minister

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has dismissed allegations of conflict of interest against the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Francisca Oteng Mensah, over the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the National Youth Authority (NYA).

CHRAJ, according to a report, dismissed the allegations on grounds that they lacked merit, as investigations conducted by the commission and evidence provided did not support the case of conflict of interest against Ms. Mensah.

This comes after a resident of Nima in Accra, by the name Ismail Mohammed, petitioned CHRAJ to look into the minister-designate’s violation of Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 7 of the NYA Act in approving COVID-19 campaign.

Francisca Oteng-Mensah, who is the board chairman of the National Youth Authority, is said to have used her influence as director and shareholder of Adonko Bitters Limited to approve procurement of sanitizers, amounting to GHC¢700,000 for the said company, which reportedly belongs to her father.

Ms.Oteng-Mensah,who is also Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwabre East Constituency in the Ashanti Region, isalleged to have supervised the board to pay GH¢700,000 to Adonko Company Ltd – which is also a subsidiary of the Angel Group of Companies.

But, in the 111-page report released on February 2 and signed by the Commissioner, Joseph Whittal, the commission indicated that evidence showed that on March 31, 2020, at a board meeting chaired by Ms. Mensah, the board of the NYA had approved GH¢3million to fund the ‘Youth in COVID-19 Campaign’ and related activities.

The NYA, it said, used part of the GH¢3million to procure PPEs for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and that the PPE consisted of alcohol-based hand sanitisers amounting to GH¢68,980.58 from Adonko Bitters Ltd; a company Ms. Mensah and her father were directors and shareholders of.

However, there was no evidence that Ms. Mensah gave directives for the procurement of hand sanitiser from Adonko Bitters, and “that the allegation that the board chairperson was not only present at the March 31 board meeting but also participated, deliberated and presided over the purchase of hand sanitisers from Adonko Bitters Limited and failed to disclose her interest in the matter is not supported by the evidence.”

“That the respondent was not under a duty to disclose her private capacity interest in Adonko Bitters Ltd at any of the March and June 2020 board meetings,” the commission added.

The report further established that there were discrepancies in the processes of the procurement of the PPE by the management of the NYA, which made it informally fall on Ms. Mensah to intervene and have Adonko Bitters Ltd supply 290 boxes when it had difficulty in obtaining supply for alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

It said the action of the Deputy Gender Minister to have Adonko Bitters Ltd supply hand sanitisers to the NYA did not amount to conflict of interest, and that at the time of concluding the investigations on this case, Adonko Bitters Ltd had not picked its cheque for GH¢68,980.58 from the NYA in respect of supplies of hand sanitiser made to the NYA.

“On the totality of the evidence, the respondent did not put herself in a position where her personal interest conflicted or was likely to conflict with the performance of her official duties as Chairperson of the NYA Board of Directors,” CHRAJ said.

The commission, however, commended the complainant for showing public spiritedness in lodging the complaint and the deputy minister for her cooperation.

 Source: Anchorghana

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