The Asset Retrieval Taskforce at the Presidency yesterday seized expensive vehicles said to belong to the state from an individual.
The taskforce stormed an area called Oforikrom, near Nsawam in the Eastern Region in the early hours and raided a private property, where the 37 cars, including those registered in the name of State Protocol Department (SPD), were found.
Akwasi Abebrese, a member of the taskforce of the Office of the President, said the retrieved vehicles included a BMW salon car, two Toyota Land Cruisers, as well as Mitsubishi Pajero, which have since been transported to Accra.
Some of the vehicles are registered GR 4564Z (BMW); NR 5577-14 (Ford Explorer); WR 907-09 (Ford Expedition); GE 6275-11 (Ford Expedition); GN 5150-12 (Nissan Patrol); GR 7904 -10 (Toyota Land Cruiser); GS 6985-13 (Toyota Land Cruiser); GM 856-14 (Nissan Patrol); GC 5961-11 (Chrysler), among others.
The taskforce disclosed that the vehicles were found in a building of one William Baah, who is said to be an auctioneer.
According to the taskforce, there were about 60 vehicles at the house but Mr. Baah disputed the figure.
He reportedly did not deny that some of the vehicles belonged to the state but insisted he had court order to keep them.
Mr Baah said the vehicles in his custody were confiscated by the court.
He, however, failed to mention the court that confiscated the vehicles or ministry or state department they were confiscated from.
According to Akwesi Abebrese aka Ebubronkosua, a member of the taskforce, five of the vehicles which included a BMW salon car, two Toyota Land Cruisers as well as Mitsubishi Pajero were immediately retrieved.
Mr Abebrese explained that “we saw SPD vehicles, including Land Cruisers and many other cars and after confronting the owner of the property, he said the cars are seized ones from court and he did not mention the name of the court.”
He said the vehicles had been seized and the auctioneer would be arrested to assist in further investigations.
Several state cars were stolen by the former appointees of the previous NDC administration, with some giving them out to girlfriends and concubines.
According to Mr. Baah, “All these cars can’t be parked at the court premises. That is why we have auctioneers and debt collectors so when the cars are seized the court will authorise the auctioneer to go for the vehicles for preservation. The cars over here are not mine. When you put these cars on screen you embarrass the owners of the vehicles and the auctioneers.”
“When you owe a bank or an individual and the person takes you to court; the court goes to your house for execution and when they find a property or car on your premises they seize it and ask you to go and pay your debt after that you come for your vehicle,” he added.
Mr Abeberese later countered Mr. Baah’s claim, explaining to the press that per the procedures, it was possible for a court to confiscate a vehicle or other properties belonging to the state for possible auction, and that vehicle could be kept in the custody of the petitioner, which must be on the authority of the court.
“It cannot be said that these vehicles were indeed confiscated by the court. The auctioneer has yet to produce any evidence detailing the circumstances and grounding his claims that the vehicles were confiscated on court orders,” he said, adding that the vehicles would be seized after he reports to the officials at the seat of government and given the green light, then the auctioneer would be arrested to assist in further investigations.”
Last week, an auto mechanic, who was contracted by the previous Mahama administration to repair state-owned vehicles, was also found to have acquired 10 of such vehicles.
They included four Toyota Land Cruisers, four brand new Pickups, a Toyota SUV and VW Passat bought at abnormally low prices, the National Operations Commander of the Task Force, Daasebre Kwabena Ahenkorah, revealed.
According to Mr Ahenkorah, two SUVs have been retrieved from the mechanic, Asem Emmanuel, at Olebu-Ablekuma, Accra.
He stated that the auto mechanic had diverted several state vehicles that were sent to him for repairs to his own garages.
Mr Ahenkorah told Kasapa FM last Thursday that Mr. Asem allegedly changed the registration numbers of the state cars before transporting them into his two garages.
He said the mechanic had admitted buying state vehicles at very low prices from elements of the previous administration.
He said receipts covering the purchase of the suspected state vehicles showed that the four brand new Double Cabin Pickups were bought at a total sum of GH¢18,000 while each of the four Toyota Land Cruisers was bought at GH¢2,000 totaling GH¢8,000.
Mr. Ahenkorah said it was only the Toyota V8 that was sold to Mr. Asem at the price of GH¢30,000.
From Daniel Bampoe, Nsawam