February 21, 2024

 

To some Cecilia Abena Dapaah, who has been very active in the political space since the days of ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, simply resigned as Sanitation and Water Resources Minister in the Akufo-Addo administration over reports that she had so much money in both foreign and local currencies in her house that her maids kept stealing, without her knowledge until their luck run out sometime, last month. 

However, the story is greater than the mere stashing of the huge sums in her private home, its discovery by her house girls, they stealing some, their arraignments before the court by the police, the resignation of the minister and the President’s acceptance of her resignation, to the confirmation that the President has lost the fight against corruption.

The crashing end to Cecilia Dapaah’s political career who started off as a Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing in the John Kufuor administration, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bantama in the Ashanti Region and becoming a substantive minister in 2007, till the end of the John Kufuor tenure in January 2009, has sparked a debate about the source of the huge sums with a key government official, Clement Wilkinson, the Ga West Municipal Chief Executive Officer, saying it could be funeral donation of US$2 million from a beneficiary of government contract.

Interestingly, the President, who is far away in Vatican, Rome- Italy, only issued a statement and rather “applauded” the Sanitation Minister, while accepting her resignation, fueling further speculation the lady was not ready to resign, but was forced out with someone writing and signing the resignation letter.

Two letters have emerged in her name the same day, but dated differently; 21/7/23 and 22/7/23. One had her adding “Ms” to her name, but the other did not. Her name Cecilia was misspelt as “Cecelia”, The signatures were not similar and the hand writings were also not similar.  The letterheads were in different colours.

The Presidency through the Director of Communication, Eugene Arhin, said that President Akufo-Addo praised Ms. Dapaah’s “loyalty” in protecting the image of his government by resigning as Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, insisting that “I am confident, like you, that, at the end of the day, your integrity, whilst in office, will be fully established. I wish you the very best in all your endeavours”.

His statement failed to tell Ghanaians whether the sources of the money will be traced using the National Investigations Bureau (NIB), Special Prosecutor’s Office, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) amongst others, suggesting the President would have as usual cleared her and kept her in office.

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Reports emerged last Friday that the two house helps who worked for the Sanitation Minister and her husband Daniel Osei Kuffour at their Abelemkpe home in Accra, were before court charged with stealing huge sums of money and other valuable items from the home.

Despite her GH¢16, 000 salary a month as a minister; the pair, 18-year-old Patience Botwe and 30-year-old Sarah Agyei, had allegedly stolen US$1 million, €300,000 and millions of Ghana cedis between July and October 2022.

They had also reportedly made away with clothes, handbags, perfumes, jewellery, Kente cloth and suits belonging to Mrs. Dapaah’s husband worth thousands of dollars.

Some have argued that since the minister and her husband didn’t notice the stealing until the house helps were caught in their bedroom, it means the money in the house was a lot, hence what was stolen was a pittance.

Already there are speculations as to where the money might have come from.

Cecilia Dapaa, as Minister of Sanitation, is reported to have spent US$43 million on the desilting of the Odaw basin.

While some have said that the monies might have come from the Sanitation aspect of her office, others have sought to link the sums to the many procurements, including water treatment chemicals by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).

The President’s statement had said “I have received your letter, dated Saturday, 22nd July 2023, resigning from office as Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources and as a member of the Government. It is with considerable regret that I accept your resignation, and I applaud your loyalty to the image and standing of the Government. The work you undertook during your period in Government was excellent and productive, and I thank you for your wholehearted contribution and devotion to the progress of the Government and the Nation. I am confident, like you, that, at the end of the day, your integrity, whilst in office, will be fully established. I wish you the very best in all your endeavours”.

There are claims that he would rather have cleared her as the two enjoy a very cordial relationship, and many have said that the tone of the statement implied the President was not interested in any investigation into the sources of the money.

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Hours before her resignation, the Minister had tried to water down the gravity of the issue, claiming “noticeable inconsistencies” in the narrative surrounding the sums of money missing from her house.

“I refer to publications dated 21/07/2023 suggesting that I own one million dollars, three hundred thousand euros and millions of cedis which have been stolen from my house.

“There are noticeable inconsistencies between what is being discussed in the public domain and the thrust of the original complaint on the matter.

“I am taking steps to examine the origins of the inconsistencies and will provide a detailed response in the coming days”.

Amidst public outcry over the amount of money that was reported to have been kept at her home, Cecilia Dapaah announced her resignation on Saturday, saying she did not want the matter to become “a hindrance to the work of government at such a crucial time.”

In her statement, Cecilia Dapaah, said she was ready to work with any state agency to establish the facts of the case and was confident that she would be exonerated.

“I intend to cooperate fully with all state agencies to enable them fully establish the facts,” the statement said.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that at the end of the processes, it will be fully established that I have conducted myself with integrity during my period in public service and I will be fully exonerated from all the allegations that have filled the public domain in the past 24 hours.”

Mrs. Dapaah, stood her ground on her complaint that the figures being reported had been exaggerated.

“Whereas I can state emphatically that those figures do not represent correctly what my husband and I reported to the Police, I am very much aware of the import of such stories around someone in my position,” the statement added.

Meanwhile government appointees as well asNPP National Communicators are defending the Sanitation Minister.

One Lawrence Kwesi Botchway Jnr, a member of the NPP National Communications refuted all claims that Cecilia Dapaah had amassed her wealth from stealing from the state.

According to him, the case has been blown out of proportion and that, about seventy per cent of the money belongs to the husband of the minister, who is a very successful architect and businessman.

“The money was not stolen on a day. The money was actually stolen in bits in 2019. All the money does not belong to Madam Cecilia Dapaah. About 70% of the money belongs to the husband of Mad. Dapaah, who is an accomplished business mogul,” he said in a statement.

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During a discussion on Accra-based UTV on Saturday, July 22, 2023, about how Cecilia Dapaah came by such money, Clement Wilkinson, the Ga West Municipal Chief Executive Officer, opined that the said stolen money US$1m, €300K, GH¢350k, could have been funded from funeral donations.

“Someone was asking why she has such an amount of money in her room. You see, for about a year now, mama Cecilia Dapaah has lost two relatives; her big brother died and we went for the funeral, as well as her mother,” he said.

“When my brother was speaking, he mentioned that she has gone to work for a company for 40-something million dollars and that the company has also taken 40-something million dollars. I really cannot tell but maybe at the funeral grounds, the company alone donated $2 million as their funeral contribution,” he added.

One entertainment pundit Mr Logic also joined in the defence of the former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, in the midst of the ongoing allegations of stolen monies from her home. Mr Logic criticized Ghanaians on the said issue for what he called hastily labelling the former minister as a thief and argued that the poverty-stricken mindset prevalent in the country tends to misconstrue luxury and wealth as ill-gotten gains.

“If someone wants to save his or her money at home, whether the money is for a project or family money or something, you don’t know, then all of a sudden, all of you are tagging her as a thief. Look, I posted that people should look for their own money and stop criticizing others’ wealth, come and see insults on my page, I have to turn off the comment session. I have realized that in Ghana, the poverty mindset dominates, and people want to be poorer than to live a good life,” he said.

He added, “The woman is not a thief, it is her own money that people have stolen and she wanted to be honest because she is a public official so she has stepped down for investigations …I don’t see why people should think that it is outrageous for her to have that money, I see it just like George said, I see it like a bit myopic to think that way, and so please I don’t support those who are saying she stole the money”.

 

Source: The Herald

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