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The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has described as frivolous, the charges slapped on former Works and Housing Minister, Collins Dauda and four other persons over the abandoned Saglemi Affordable Housing project.
He said he is convinced that they will come out victorious at the end of the legal battle.
Haruna Iddrisu made this known when he and other members of the minority in parliament went to the High Court to solidarise with their colleague legislator, who is facing 52 counts of criminal charges for intentionally misapplying public property, wilfully causing financial loss to the Republic, and dishonestly causing loss to public property.
“It is instructive that they are being charged when the courts are themselves on vacation. What is the hurry and what is the desperation in this?” he quizzed.
He added that the allegations are just deliberate to persecute and harass the Asutifi South MP.
“[They claim] that he has wilfully caused financial loss to the state…whose value? The Attorney General says it is $64 million. I believe that these are frivolous, trumped-up charges intended to politically persecute and politically harass. We remain undoubted. I do not think that these charges can stand the test of law. I am very convinced about this,” he said.
The accused persons after their first court appearance on Thursday, August 5, 2021 were granted bail to reappear on October 13, 2021 after pleading not guilty.
Facts of case
According to the facts of the case by Attorney General, Godfred Dame, an executive order approving the construction of 5,000 affordable housing units, to be known as the Saglemi Affordable Housing Project was granted by then-President, John Dramani Mahama in August 2012.
The project which had parliamentary approval was funded by Credit Suisse and the housing units were to be sold to workers through mortgage arrangements provided by the then Ghana Home Loans Company. The contractor for the project is a Brazilian company, Construtora OAS Ltd.
In the facts presented to the court, the Ministry of Finance (borrower) and the lender signed a facility agreement on January 4, 2013, for the release of $200 million to fund the construction of the 5,000 housing units, the day on which the Housing Minister also signed the EPC agreement with Construtora OAS, represented by Clocanas, the fourth accused.
According to the Attorney General, the project was to be executed in four phases on 2,172 acres of land at a contract price of $200 million, including consultancy services.
An Escrow Management Agreement, a condition precedent to the release of the facility to the borrower, was also signed, pursuant to the facility and the EPC agreements, he said.
He further stated that on February 27, 2014, Mr. Dauda, without parliamentary approval, reviewed the EPC agreement and signed both the original and the revised (restated) agreement with Construtora OAS, represented by Clocanas. The revision allegedly changed the scope of works and the application of the $200 million approved by Parliament.
This new agreement required the contractor to execute the project in three phases over a site of 1,272 acres, while the $200 million was now to be applied towards the execution of only the first phase of the project, comprising just about 1,502 housing units.
This was contrary to the executive and parliamentary approvals, as well as the facility and Escrow Management agreements.
On December 21, 2016, according to the facts, the Chief Director, Yakubu, again reviewed the original and revised (restated) agreement and signed them (second and his revised or restated), without recourse to Parliament.
That led to a further reduction in the scope of works to 1,412 housing units at a revised price of $181 million and extended the completion period to July 31, 2017, the prosecutor alleged.