Ghanian Group Seeks Access to Documents Power Deal

18 December 2015

A Ghanaian group is relying on the constitutional guarantee of right to information in its pursuit of documents about a controversial energy deal.

The lawsuit by the CitizenGhana Movement against Power Minister Kwabena Donkor and others follows revelations made by a Norwegian newspaper.

In the absence of a national freedom of information law, two leading members of the group have based their claim on Article 21(f) of the Constitution. They sued the Minister of Power, the Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney-General in the Human Rights Court, Accra, according to the group’s Facebook posts.

The sought-after documents concern a power purchase deal signed between the Government of Ghana and the Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group (AMERI Energy) LLC. The CitizenGhana Movement is asking for a copy of the signed contract from February 2015 and any due diligence report on the deal.

The Norwegian newspaper VG wrote that a former CEO of AMERI, Umar Farooq Zahoor, who witnessed the deal for the UAE-based AMERI, is on Interpol’s wanted list for financial crimes. Also, the paper said, Ghana significantly overpaid for turbines.

The Government of Ghana and AMERI have issued separate statements defending the deal and denying the paper’s claims. Ghana’s statement called VG’s story “false, misleading and a gross misrepresentation of the facts.” AMERI threatened to sue the newspaper, calling its report “false and slanderous.” The Umar Farooq Zahoor, who according to VG is wanted for financial crimes in Norway and Switzerland, is not the same Farooq who signed as witness for AMERI, the company said, according to an article in Citimonline.com

VG’s News Editor Gard Steiro stood by the story, Citimonline.com also reported. A VG article (in Norwegian) on the reaction includes links to the original story (English version).

In Ghana Online, Elizabeth Ohene, wrote, “Why did we in Ghana miss a story that was staring us in the face?” She discusses how the story was hidden in plain sight.

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