Chairman of the Executive Assets sub-committee of the Transitional Team that ushered in President Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) into office, Lawyer Joseph Ayikoi Otoo, has revealed that as many as 234 vehicles belonging to the state have still not been accounted for.
Even though the said vehicles were purchased and used by members of the previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration which handed over power to the NPP a little over two months ago, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, former Attorney General, said there were no details about the location of the vehicles, confirming the earlier reports that they were missing.
Speaking to the members of the Presidential Press Corps yesterday, Nii Ayikoi Otoo revealed, “We were handed over a list from the office of the President [previous administration]… they had designated them into VVIP, protocol…the first time they gave us the list, they said it was not accurate so we shouldn’t use it.”
Mr Ayikoi Otoo explained, “In view of government policy that where an official uses a car for more than two years, he could apply to buy it, that policy was still in existence and that we were not sure whether the list they had given us did not include those ones.”
“So we held on and they gave us a fresh list with the understanding that those who have bought all those vehicles have been taken out of the list.”
That list, according to him, contained a total of 707 vehicles, including 176 V8s, 68 Prados, saloon cars, buses and ambulances – 468.
Most of these vehicles were not licensed [registered] hence were using what is referred to in security terms as ‘operational numbers’ with no regular number plates except their identifiable chassis numbers.
In that regard, he revealed, “ We take the number, we identify the vehicle, we go look for the chassis number and if it is there we mark it, regardless whatever number [plate] it has.”
Out of the 707, he indicated, “The ones we were able to mark to say that we have found them were as follows: V8 – 101, Prados – 36, others – saloon, bus…269.
“From the 707, the vehicles that we could not find; what we call ‘missing vehicles,’ came down to 301 and the breakdown will be as follows; V8 – 75, Prados – 27, others – saloon, bus…-199.”
Even that, he indicated, “We were able to identify 67 vehicles not listed but we were able to identify them.”
“So if you deduct the 67 vehicles from the 301 missing vehicles, we still have 234 vehicles which could not be accounted for.” That confirmed initial claims by the Acting Director of Communication at the presidency, Eugene Arhin, to the effect that over 200 government vehicles had either gone missing or had been stolen.
This is part of reasons the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei Opare, has set up a task force to hunt for these vehicles with a call on Ghanaians to volunteer information about their locations.
Not long after the shout of missing vehicles, a former presidential staffer under John Mahama, Sam George, confirmed that some of the NDC staffers purchased 271 saloon cars at the presidency.
It appears however, that majority of these unaccounted vehicles were among the ones that were bought by the NDC appointees as parting gifts from Mahama.
According to Mr Sam George – Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram – about 271 of the vehicles allegedly missing from the president’s vehicle pool, were purchased by some officials of the NDC government.