CMS FIRE: NDC GOVERNMENT DESTROYED EVIDENCE – HEALTH MINISTER

CMS fire: NDC government destroyed evidence – Health Minister

Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Naa Sakwaba Akwa | faustine.akwa@myjoyonline.com
Date: 24th-november-2017 Time:  11:04:44 am

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The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu has accused the Mahama-led administration of destroying evidence that would have been used to prosecute the persons found to have caused the fire at the Central Medical Stores (CMS) in 2015.

He said a recommendation in a report by the National Security, the body tasked to investigate the incident, makes it impossible for anyone to be prosecuted although the cause of the fire was arson. 

Ghana in 2015, lost about $80 million worth of medicines and other medical supplies when fire razed the CMS at Tema in the Greater Accra Region.

The uninsured CMS contained every conceivable drug imported into the country, including drugs for deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and Ebola.

Central Medical Store inferno

But two years after the incident occurred, no punitive measure has been taken against the people who were said to have masterminded the act.

The then Health Minister Alex Segbefia at a press conference, said the key suspect had absconded, a reason nothing had been done in terms of prosecution.

The National Security in its report also recommended that a forensic audit be conducted to get to the bottom of the issue.

But speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Friday, the Health Minister said he was shocked at that recommendation and that for him, it was an attempt to deliberately frustrate any prosecutions.

“When a place gets burnt and you go and do investigations and you say that they should go and do forensic audit and then you hire caterpillars to clear the site, and at the same time ask that we do a forensic audit, with what on-site evidence are we going to do a forensic audit,” Mr Agyeman Manu queried.

Central Medical Store fire

He added, “that is the basis of my suspicion, that they were complicit, they wanted to destroy evidence and then they will just stall the progress of information.”

However, the Minister who said it took him three months to lay hands on the report, disclosed that the Auditor-General has taken up the matter and has contracted a forensic auditor to regardless, conduct an audit of the incident.

Even with that, the Minister said he went to the site after he took office earlier this year, but cast doubts on the possibility that anything concrete will come out of a forensic audit.

“So I am thinking that it was a deliberate action to put the forensic audit there as a recommendation, 'let us go and destroy evidence and then the thing will not hold,'” he said.

Mr Agyemang Manu said his Ministry is bent on getting to the bottom of the matter and everything is being done to achieve this.

Either the Auditor General recommends a lot more police investigation or arrests, refers the matter to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution or the Auditor General will use his powers and surcharge certain persons involved, he said.

The Minister also indicated that had it not been that the NDC government was voted out of power, the health sector would have collapsed totally.

He said almost all the country’s international donors were outraged by how the previous government handled the fire incident and were unwilling to supply drugs as they should.

“The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) supply us about 80 percent of the vaccines we use in this country, they got so disillusioned.

“We had an agreement to do co-funding, we didn’t pay them for 2016 so when 2017 came, they said until we paid them the full amount for 2017 and the previous arrears, they weren’t going to give us vaccines,” he added.

But gradually the country has won back some confidence and they are watching the new government hoping that they will be different, he suggested.

His predecessor, Mr Alex Segbefia, however, disagreed with large parts of what Mr. Agyemang Manu said but conceded that the country's donor partners had concerns about the rate of progress in the case.

He said they were unhappy that no persons were being prosecuted but stressed it was the police that delayed with gathering evidence on the basis of which successful prosecutions could have been mounted.

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