The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo, has recommended criminal investigations into the conduct of actors in the $200-million, 5,000-unit Saglemi housing project.
The Attorney-General’s advice was premised on the absence of a valid explanation for variations in the original contract from 5,000 housing units to 1,502 units for the same $200 million contract amount.
A letter, dated May 8, 2019, signed by Ms Akuffo and addressed to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, indicated that the parties to the contract, namely, the government of Ghana and Construtora OAS Ghana Limited, were bound by the agreed accrued rights and obligations.
Following from the accrued rights and obligations of the parties, then Attorney-General advised that the Ministry of Works and Housing had the right to demand specific performance of the obligations of the contractor as contained in the original agreement.
The advice from the Attorney-General further stated that the original contract expired in June 2017 and for that reason “there can be no termination of a non-existent agreement as requested by the ministry”.
The Ministry of Works and Housing had requested the Attorney-General to advise on the options available for the termination or otherwise of the contract.
As a result, the Attorney-General said “the agreement, having expired in June 2017, the purported notice of termination by the contractor has no basis in law and is, therefore of no effect”.
“The ministry is, therefore, advised to write formally to the contractor rejecting the purported notice of termination,” the letter stated in response to the contractor’s notice of termination.
The Attorney-General, after reviewing the documents the Ministry of Works and Housing submitted to her outfit, observed that both the Executive and parliamentary approval for the Saglemi project was for 5,000 housing units for the cost of $200 million.
“From the documents reviewed, there is no evidence justifying the variation of the scope of the agreement in the first and restated agreement signed by then Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Collins Dauda, which reduced the number of housing units to be constructed from 5,000 to 1,502 though the price remained $200 million,” it said.
The opinion noted that the restated agreement should have been sent back to Parliament for approval, following the substantial variation and failure which had rendered the restated agreement null and void.
It said although the Chief Director of the Ministry of Works and Housing, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu, signed the second and restated agreement dated December 21, 2016 with the contractor; there was no evidence to show the Chief Director was clothed with the capacity to review the contract.
According to the state, in view of the fact that variations to the original contract had not received parliamentary and executive approvals, the original Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) signed by the parties on January 3, 2014 remained the only valid contract binding the parties.
The Attorney-General further observed that the contractor had so far completed 1,412 housing units and had also received $179 million in payment.