The trade of contaminated oil by Ghana’s Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Limited (BOST) has gone through several proceedings by the general public and formal investigation units in Ghana to help clarify and deduce any illegal or crime associated with the sale of 5 million litres of contaminated fuel to Movenpiina Company Limited. The state’s Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), after investigation, has cleared the case and concluded that there was no offense in the trade. Despite this announcement, the minority in parliament has described the decision as a seed of corruption on the path of the BNI.
According to the BNI, A lab test of the contaminated fuel from the Tema Oil Refinery indicated that out of the options available, selling the product for industrial purposes such as asphalt processing, texture and cement manufacturing was the best. This option was recommended to the MD because TOR is not refining currently and the laboratory result clearly stated that treating it would not give the required quality of AGO (Diesel).
An advocacy group has also released a paper as a response to the BNI in a quest to seek a more just response on the BOST contaminated fuel trade and also calling on the current government to act on the issue.
AN EXPOSE ON THE BOST CONTAMINATED FUEL SAGA BY THE COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE (CSJ)
DATE: 4TH JULY 2017
Members of the press, we have been monitoring with keen interest the recent scandal at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company Limited (BOST) in which five (5) million litres of contaminated fuel has been sold to MOVENPIINA ENERGY under very questionable and dubious circumstances.
Like many others who have commented on this matter, we believe this transaction is the biggest organized crime to have been perpetrated against the people of Ghana and we are fortified in our belief by the following facts.
STATUTORY BREACHES OF THE BOST MD
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, Section 11(1) of the NPA Act (ACT 691) of 2005 provides that ‘a person shall not engage in a business or commercial activity in the downstream industry unless that person has been granted a license for that purpose by the Board’. This is reinforced by section 32 of the same ACT.
Shockingly, it has been established by the NPA that MOVENPIINA ENERGY AND ZUP OIL are not legally licensed to operate in the downstream petroleum sector of Ghana. Therefore, the reckless decision of the BOST MD, Mr. Alfred Obeng to sell 5 million litres of contaminated fuel to MOVENPIINA ENERGY and the subsequent sale of over 470,000 litres of the said contaminated fuel by MOVENPIINA ENERGY to ZUP OIL is a serious violation of the law and a threat to the security, health and safety of the entire Ghanaian public.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, fresh evidence available to us indicates that MOVENPIINA ENERGY sold two (2) million litres of the said contaminated fuel to another unlicensed company, MACWEST on 2nd June 2017 even before the ZUP OIL deal. We are alarmed by the double-dose of lawlessness demonstrated by BOST and MOVENPIINA ENERGY in this whole saga.
Members of the press, documents available to us show that MOVENPIINA ENERGY was incorporated on the 1st of June 2017. Yet MOVENPIINA ENERGY wrote to BOST to express their interest to purchase the said contaminated fuel on the 19th of May 2017, (eleven (11) clear days before it was incorporated). The yearning question begging for an answer is how an unregistered business (MOVENPIINA ENERGY) managed to procure a letterhead and purported to trade with a state institution even before its registration.
Friends from the media, it will interest you to know that, even before its incorporation on 1st June 2017, MOVENPINAA had already started hauling fuel from BOST as far back as 15th May 2017. Is it not intriguing that Mr. Alfred Obeng allowed MOVENPINAA ENERGY to haul fuel from BOST when it had neither been registered as a business nor licensed by the NPA to do so?
It is our strong conviction that this reckless transaction does not only constitute a violation of the laws of Ghana but also smacks of fraud and corruption of epic proportions.
POSSIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Additionally, we are of the considered opinion that the conduct of the BOST MD stands in clear violation of article 284 of the 1992 Constitution which proscribes public officers from putting themselves in conflict of interest situations.
Ladies and gentlemen, our checks have revealed that, the address and telephone number on the letterhead of MOVENPIINA ENERGY can be traced to the personal residence and office of Mr. Alfred Obeng, the MD of BOST. This gives the clearest indication that Mr. Alfred Obeng has a personal interest in the affairs of MOVENPINAA ENERGY.
Our belief is reinforced by the dubious circumstances under which the 5 MILLION litres of contaminated fuel was sold to MOVENPIINA Energy and we would like to pose the following pertinent questions to buttress our point.
1. In the first place, how did MOVENPIINA ENERGY come to know of the availability of the exact volumes of the contaminated fuel when there was no public announcement to that effect by BOST? Is this not indicative of insider trading?
2. Why was this whole deal not subjected to competitive bidding in line with the provisions of the PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ACT of 2003 (ACT 663). In other words, why was MOVENPIINA given access to all the 5 million litres of the said contaminated fuel to the exclusion of the many licensed companies in the downstream sector? Does this not contradict this government’s stance against the abuse of the sole sourcing module of the public procurement process?
3. Why did the BOST MD, Mr. Alfred Obeng arrogate to himself the tripartite powers of the NPA, THE ENERGY MINISTRY AND THE BOARD OF BOST in choosing the option of selling the said contaminated fuel to MOVENPIINA ENERGY? Why was he in a rush and why did he not consult any of these superior bodies before taking such a critical decision?
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, putting all these pieces of information together, it can be reasonably inferred that Mr. Alfred Obeng placed his personal interest in MOVENPIINA ENERGY above the public interest. He is therefore liable for conflict of interest under article 284 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and does not deserve to continue in office as the Managing Director of BOST.
THE SUDDEN “U-TURN” BY THE NPA BOSS
We are utterly shocked by the attempt of the NPA BOSS, Mr.Alhassan Tampuli to eat back his words by taking steps to register ZUP OIL AND MOVENPIINA ENERGY after having publicly indicted them as legally unfit to participate in the downstream petroleum sector as per his press release of Wednesday 28th June 2017. The sudden change in position of the NPA boss smacks of a grand collusion to stifle the truth in this matter.
Also, we are of the view that the sudden change of position by the NPA will encourage the culture of impunity and embolden other companies to flout the regulations of the downstream petroleum sector. This we believe portends great danger to public safety and health.
More importantly, this “u-turn” by the NPA boss has the potential of prejudicing the work of the ministerial committee and exculpating the companies involved in this scandal from legal liability.
What the NPA should rather be telling us at this point, are the punitive measures it intends to take against BOST, MOVENPIINA ENERGY AND ZUP OIL for their violations of the law so as to deter others from doing same. We therefore call on the NPA to halt the registration and licensing of these companies who are subjects of investigations of the ministerial committee. The Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) shall use all legal means available to resist any attempt to cover up.
THE UNNECESSARY AND DISRUPTIVE PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT
We find the press conference by the majority in parliament which sought to exonerate the embattled BOST MD of wrong doing even before the ministerial committee commences its work as very pre-emptive and unnecessary. As protectors of the public purse, one would have thought that the majority would have been mindful of the national interest rather than prejudge the work of the ministerial committee.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we may ask, since when did the majority in parliament become the spokespersons of the BOST MD? Is it because Mr. Alfred Obeng is said to have been a key financier of the NANA AKUFO-ADDO 2016 ELECTION CAMPAIGN as stated by Hon. Kennedy Agyapong on Asempa fm a couple of days ago? And if so, are people who are known financiers of President AKUFO ADDO’S CAMPAIGN above the law?
The press conference by the majority in Parliament which sought to defend BOST an agency under the Executive arm of government undermines the principle of separation of powers and checks and balances that underline the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
This desperate attempt by the majority in parliament to equalize and rationalize the wrong actions of the BOST MD is shameful and reprehensible to say the least. We wish state emphatically that no attempt to obfuscate the issues can stand the test of time because we the members of the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) will ensure that the national interest is served.
THE LOUD SILENCE OF THE PRESIDENT
Members of the press, we are surprised at the loud silence of the PRESIDENT, HIS EXCELLENCY, NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO ADDO since this matter broke. As a self-professed anti-corruption crusader, one would have thought that he would have acted with similar alacrity and dispatch as he did during his days in opposition. The President promised Ghanaians that corruption will not happen under his watch and warned those of his appointees interested in making money to leave his government for the private sector.
Friends of the media, we would want to ask whether the conspicuous silence of our President is indicative of complicity and endorsement. Is President silent because of the allegation that one of her daughters is involved in this stinking deal? May we remind the President that this BOST fuel saga is a test case of his much touted anti-corruption credentials and the way he handles it will determine whether his incorruptibility tag is a mere political rhetoric or a well deserved accolade. We urge him to rise above the partisanship and walk the talk. The President must wake up from his slumber. He must crack the whip no matter whose ox is gored.
Mr. President! the people of Ghana are watching and will hold you accountable if you fail to act decisively on this matter.
THE INERTIA OF CHRAJ
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, an issue of this magnitude cannot be left in the hands of the ministerial committee alone. Especially when the majority in Parliament and the NPA has already pre-empted the work of the committee.
It is imperative for CHRAJ, which is the constitutionally mandated body with the responsibility of investigating alleged and suspected acts of corruption by public officers to launch an inquiry into this matter in line with their duty under Article 218(e) of the 1992 constitution and section 7(vi) of the CHRAJ ACT (ACT 456) 1993.
The lackluster disposition of CHRAJ towards allegations of corruption against public officers in this country is most reprehensible. It is past time that CHRAJ adhered to its duties and responsibilities towards the people of Ghana and we call on the Commission to rise up to the occasion.
In view of this, the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) has decided to formally petition CHRAJ to launch a full scale enquiry into this matter in the coming days.
The continuous stay in office by Mr. Alfred Obeng is a disrespect to the people of Ghana. We call on the President, HIS EXCELLENCY NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO ADDO to immediately interdict Mr. Alfred Obeng, the Managing Director of BOST in line with the tenets of good governance.
We condemn the deliberate attempt to prevent the ministerial committee from doing its work. We would like to call on the ministerial committee to discharge its duties with utmost sincerity and candor so as to ensure the national interest is duly served.
Thank you for coming.
VOX POPULI, VOX DEI (THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE IS THE VOICE OF GOD)