DCE cited in alleged school feeding fraud in Nabdam District

DCE cited in alleged school feeding fraud in Nabdam District

Signals of possible anti-government street protests in Nabdam, a district in the Upper East Region, are getting stronger by the day over alleged involvement of the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area, Agnes Anamoo, in a purported Ghana National School Feeding Programme (GNSFP) fraud.

Angry residents of the district are accusing the central government of deliberately failing to have the DCE further investigated and put on trial after a report said to have been delivered by the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) months ago on a GNSFP scandal in the district reportedly found her liable for a scam.

According to the agitators, the names of two women, Grace Assibi Kasere and Denicia Afifi, were added to a list of GNSFP caterers in the district by the DCE without the knowledge of the two women. One of them, Grace, is said to be a relation to the DCE. Grace was assigned to the Zanlerigu Primary School and Denicia to the Zanlerigu Kindergarten.

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Neither of the two public schools was served by either of the two ‘ghost’ caterers, but the government paid them both continually for no job done through some E-zwich accounts opened for them. It is also alleged that the two women, one of whom reportedly can neither read nor write, often took the monies to the DCE upon payment and withdrawal and the cash would be divided amongst them with a purported lion’s share going to the DCE.

This reported underhand deal, they say, went on until the state’s intelligence agency (NIB) caught the three women ‘pants down’ and blew their cover. It is said that Grace and Denicia had acted in ignorance all along because the DCE allegedly had only deceived them from the beginning that the monies they were withdrawing from E-zwich (which actually were monies government was paying for no service rendered to the two hungry government schools) were meant to cater for some orphans.

Grace and Denicia did not know they were ‘caterers on paper but not caterers on the ground’ until the NIB reportedly exposed what they allegedly were being used for in the dark and without their knowledge. About Gh¢30,000 reportedly had been paid to the accounts of the two ‘ghost caterers’ before the secret deeds were brought to light.

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“The biggest disappointment is that after the BNI (initials of the name formerly used by the NIB, Bureau of National Investigations) exposed this big scandal, we did not hear anything further,” said a resident, Moses Bogre. “All we heard was that the money they received was taken back from them. No further investigation, no prosecution. Is that how things are supposed to be in a country of law and order? We are asking for answers from the government. We’re poised to protest this silence.”

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Checks by Starr News reveal that the Zanlerigu Primary School and the Zanlerigu Kindergarten currently have an enrollment of about 350 pupils and 110 preschoolers respectively.

Only recently (in 2019) did caterers officially arrive and settle at the schools to feed the pupils, according to Ghana Education Service (GES) authorities. The alleged feeding by the ‘ghost’ caterers― the catering service that reportedly never was― “took place” before 2019 but after 2017.

In her response to the allegations, the DCE told Starr News on Monday she never was involved in any school-feeding fraud. She explained that the GNSFP headquarters actually approved Grace and Denicia as caterers for the cited hungry schools but a prominent executive member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), whose name she mentioned to Starr News but said she did not want to be published, for now, hijacked the slots to himself, thereby dislodging the two caterers from their rightful contracts with the government.

According to her, the GNSFP headquarters mistakenly paid money into Grace’s and Denicia’s E-zwich accounts later for no work done but the monies, she added, were repaid to the government through her efforts after she had learned those wrong payments, which she said probably were meant for different caterers elsewhere in the district, had been made. She said there were documents at the Nabdam District’s office of the GNSFP, and that she would make them available, to show how her efforts had led to the wrong payments being reversed.

“There was no fraud as they have mentioned. The allegation is wrong. The [GNSFP] Desk Officer is aware. The Regional School Feeding Coordinator is aware. The BNI (NIB) is also aware. I am in the race (for appointment as DCE) and if they are bringing this to tarnish my image, that is it. I don’t know anything about fraud. I did the right thing. You can call any person in Nabdam about things I have done. I have been open.

“They even did research on all DCEs; I was the best DCE. Because the season (for DCE appointments) is due, they want to do something to just tarnish my image for me not to be appointed. I did not spend any pesewas. I don’t own any school in Nabdam as I sit. They just want to tarnish my image. This is what they are looking for. They have an agenda; it won’t work. I have documents. Everything is there. So, it won’t work. I’m ready to work with everybody. I’m just pleading: let us come together. Nabdam is just small and we need to work together to move the district forward,” she said.

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