News of a minister of state losing cash sums – US$1m, €300,000 and GHc350,000 – sent shock waves across the Ghanaian society starting Friday morning, July 21,2023; when the Chronicle Newspaper broke the story.
This is where the woes of Cecilia Abena Dapaah, then Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, started.
She had, along with the husband, lodged a formal complaint based on which police prepared a charge sheet for two former employees (house helps) accusing them of stealing and dissipating some of the stolen sums.
The event happened in 2022 yet the Accra Circuit Court only last week sat on the case.
The majority of commentary on the matter has been of condemnation and calls for investigations, which have started via the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).
Those who have risen to the defense of the former minister insist that the missing amounts can be made through legal means and so the public should hasten slowly in critiquing the former Bantama Member of Parliament and allow relevant agencies to probe the issue.
Two ruling party appointees have since given possible routes through which the Ms Dapaah could get the said sums.
First was the Municipal Chief Executive Officer of the Ga West Municipality, Clement Nii Lamptey Wilkinson, who averred that the stolen sums could have been funds from funeral donations.
Speaking on Accra-based UTV (July 22), he said, “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 added; “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.”
On the same day on TV3, Henry Kwabena Kokofu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has urged Ghanaians to exercise caution in their commentary on the matter.
While acknowledging that keeping such significant sums of money at home is not appropriate, Dr. Kokofu cautioned against hasty judgments and premature sentencing in the court of public opinion.
“For me, that should not give way to a court of public opinion where people will be roasted and sentenced, judged before the actual investigations have begun,” he said.
He drew attention to the possibility of accumulating such funds legally, particularly through the sale of land in certain expensive areas of the country.
“The practice of keeping money at home is not to be encouraged, I for one, I don’t know how I will be able to do that because I can’t sleep even though I don’t have [such funds].”
He added “The point is until investigations prove otherwise, we are here in this country and you go to East Legon and other lands are being sold for $150,000 per plot…and even more, so $200,000 per plot, so if somebody has five plots and sells them, $1,000,000 is on hand easily…I am trying to say that, how you can realize money in the scheme of things, legally without necessarily engaging in corruption…”