The Executive Director of the Human Rights and Governance Centre, Martin Kpebu, has justified his decision to get the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu tried for perjury.
According to him, the Minister for Health lied under oath in Parliament when he appeared before the ad-hoc committee that probed the botched Sputnik V vaccine procurement deal.
Agyeman-Manu had said he was not aware of any payment to the intermediary helping Ghana to secure the vaccines from Russia; a claim disputed by the report put together by the committee that probed the botched deal.
It has emerged that an amount of $2.8 million had been paid to the intermediary.
“Out of the total amount of US$5,700,000.00 owed to Sheikh Al Maktoum, an amount of US$2,850,000.00 representing 50% has been paid to him and that translates into a Cedi equivalent of GH¢16,331,640.00 converted at the exchange rate of US$1 to GH¢5.73,” the committee said in its report.
The Committee has asked the Finance Minister to retrieve the amount.
Mr. Kpebu in a Citi News interview contended that such an amount could not be paid on the blind-side of the Minister.
“When we go into the trial, Ghanaians will see that such a huge sum of money ($2.8 million) cannot be paid on the blind-side of the Minister because there must be some approval from him the (Minister). No one can pay such a colossal sum of money without his knowledge. This man is just trying to take us for granted, and I think that he is underestimating Ghanaians.”
A number of Ghanaians and civil society groups have mounted pressure on Mr. Agyeman-Manu to resign for sidestepping procurement processes for the procurement of the vaccines.
As a result, a hashtag, #AgyemanManuMustGo has been trending on Twitter, with several Ghanaians calling for the resignation or dismissal of the minister.
As Ghana struggled to reach its target of vaccinating 20 million citizens, it emerged that the government was using the services of middlemen to procure 3.4 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccines.
But this was at a higher cost of $19 other than the original factory price of $10.
This prompted calls for the abrogation of the procurement contract.
The issue first came to light when a Norwegian news outlet, Verdens Gang, reported that Ghana had requested to purchase the doses of the Sputnik V vaccine through two businessmen who are selling it to Ghana at $19 per dose instead of the $10 per dose on the international market
The initial price quoted for the vaccine was US$25, but it was negotiated downwards to US$19, according to the Ghana Health Service.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who is a board member of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, admitted that he did not seek cabinet and parliamentary approval before engaging the private individual for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines when he appeared before the bi-partisan committee.
Meanwhile, the company that agreed to supply Ghana with the overpriced Sputnik V vaccines has terminated the contract it had with the country, according to the Minister.