The Assembly Member (AM) for the Kedzikope Electoral Area in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region, Hon. Joseph Amenyo Quashigah has been charged by the Keta Divisional Police Command with stealing contrary to Section 124, Sub-Section One (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) as amended by paragraph four (4) of NLCD 398 of 1960.
The Keta Divisional Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) proffered the charge against the AM at the Keta Circuit Court when Mr. Quashigah appeared in court on Tuesday, 15th February, 2022 for allegedly diverting and selling 110 student mattresses and some boxes of pillows meant for distribution to victims of the tidal waves disaster that hit Keta and its surrounding communities and sister districts in November, 2021.
The suspect who is also a teacher by profession, pleaded not guilty to the charge as read out to him in court. Mr. Quashigah’s Counsel pleaded with the Court for bail for his client which was subsequently granted by the Presiding Judge, Her Honour, Mercy Adei Kotei in the sum of Fifty Thousand Ghana Cedis (Ghc50, 000.00) with two (2) sureties.
In November, 2021, about four thousand (4,000) victims along the coastal areas of Ketu South, Keta and Anlo Municipalities and District respectively of the Volta Region were hit by a tidal waves disaster.
One of the communities severely affected by the storm surge was Kedzikope in the Keta Municipality. The harrowing experience of the people from the sea waves rendered them homeless and residents’ properties and livelihoods destroyed by the tidal waves.
The situation attracted a huge support from benevolent institutions, organizations and individuals including the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) who all donated various quantities of relief items in the form of mattresses, food items like maize, bags of rice as well as other assorted goods to the victims.
One of such individuals and daughters from Keta, who greatly assisted the disaster victims as part of her widow’s mite, was Madam Amelia Amemate. Madam Amemate who is the complainant in the case, had earlier donated two consignments of relief items to the victims through the support of the suspect in question. The beneficiaries were expected to include disaster victims from Kedzikope and Abutiakope.
The Prosecutor, Chief Inspector Ransford Kwate of the Keta Divisional PoliceCommand, told the court that after the distribution of the first-two consignments of the relief items by the AM on behalf of the complainant, she began receiving calls from some residents of Kedzikope to the effect that their AM or the suspect for that matter, was allegedly selling out students mattresses through some persons to some members of the general public at One Hundred and Fifty Ghana Cedis (Ghc150.00) each.
According to the Prosecution, the situation, the complainant said had denied many residents the opportunity of receiving the needed relief items meant to cushion their situation.
Chief Inspector Kwate told the court that when the third consignment of relief items of 229 high density student mattresses and 13 boxes of pillows were brought by Madam Amemate to Kedzikope, she instructed the suspect not to distribute the items until she was available herself for such an exercise.
Due to her two-week ill-health, the complainant could not return to Kedzikope for the distribution exercise as earlier planned and discussed with the suspect.
The prosecution said after the complainant became well, similar reports and calls of alleged sale of mattresses by the suspect kept reaching her. When she became well, she finally followed up herself to Kedzikope in January, 2022 to establish the truth for herself, she detected from the relief items store that only 119 out of the 229 mattresses were left. In otherwords, a total of 110 of the student mattresses were nowhere to be found. Some boxes of pillows also meant for the disaster victims were also not accounted for.
When questioned about the disappearance of the mattresses and pillows, the suspect claimed he had distributed them to victims of the tidal waves disaster, a move which was in total contravention of the specific instruction given to him by the complainant. Efforts to identify the beneficiaries of the 110 mattresses and the quantities of pillows proved futile.
The complainant subsequently reported the matter to the Keta Divisional CID office which immediately began investigations into the case and also got the suspect arrested for interrogations and further questioning.
Chief Inspector Kwate put the value of the ‘missing’ 110 mattresses at Ghc26, 180 while that of the ‘missing’ pillows at Ghc800 totaling Ghc26, 980.00.
Our newsteam spoke with the Keta Municipal Director of NADMO, Mr. Godknows Yao Bleboo for his reaction to the situation. He told our newsteam in an interview that his outfit was not informed about and involved in the donation and distribution of the said items given out by the said complainant, Madam Amelia Amemate, describing the development as unfortunate.
Mr. Bleboo appealed to individuals, institutions and organizations that are interested in making any donations to disaster victims to route them through NADMO offices since their outfits do not only have the required lists of such disaster victims but also the capacity and the personnel to execute such duties and responsibilities fairly.
Hearing of the case continues on Tuesday, 15th March, 2022.
Source: Akukorku Media Consult