SFO takes workers hostage, whisks away computers and files
By Chronicle on the spot
It was akin to a commando raid. Officers of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), formerly known as the Serious Fraud Office, raided the offices of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) head office in Accra yesterday, and took away nine computers and several office files.
The raid began at about 8:30 a.m., and ended by 12 noon when officers of the crime office whisked away the GFA computers and documents in two vehicles. The officers were tight-lipped about the operation, but The Chronicle learned from one official, who simply identified himself as Gideon Deklu, that his office had secured a high court search warrant “to look for evidence in respect of sponsorship money for the 2010 World Cup.”
He provided a cellular phone for The Chronicle to reach his boss, whom he identified as Kweku Mortey, but the latter failed to pick his line on the many times that The Chronicle got through.
It was a sight to behold, as workers of nearby offices such as the Ghana Tourist Board and the National Road Safety Commission massed up in front of the FA offices, wondering what might be happening inside the GFA office premises.
Workers of the GFA, including General Secretary Kofi Nsiah, and Deputy General Secretary Mr. Apem Darko, were held hostage for the period the raid lasted. A security man stood astride the main entrance to the FA House, with instructions not to let anybody in or out of the building.
When Kwasi Nyantakyi, the GFA President, arrived on the scene about an hour and a half into the operation, he said he had no idea about the raid, and was only alerted by worried workers. “I may not call it an intrusion per se. They say they have a search warrant from the court. But I am surprised at the turn of events,” he stated.
He told newsmen that the EOCO summoned the GFA at the time it was known as the Serious Fraud Office to appear before it, and answer some questions. “We pleaded for time, as we ought to be sure of what we were to answer for, in view of the FIFA directive on the game.”
FA spokesman Randy Abbey was more than surprised. He said it was an “unfortunate development. Staff was caught unaware by the crime officers who “invaded our premises.”
Those with inside knowledge about the organisation of the game expressed surprise, and talked of grave consequences for Ghana Football.
The Chronicle Editor, Ebo Quansah, who is the immediate past President of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG), whose letter to FIFA began a long drawn out feud with some people within the governance process, described the raid as a ”black day in the life of the nation.”
“We are barely three weeks away from Christmas. There is nothing to cheer the average Ghanaian, except football.
They want to collapse our game too for us. We are not too far from the situation in Cote d’Ivoire,” he retorted.
Last week, the GFA received a letter from FIFA, in which the world governing body on football asked the government of Ghana to stay clear of monies raised by the GFA, such as corporate sponsorship money.
FIFA emphasised that the government had the right only over monies advanced by it in respect of the eight national football teams of Ghana.
“We would like to specify that during his meeting with the President of Ghana, the FIFA President only mentioned that the government of Ghana could audit the GFA account related to the attribution of public funds, i.e. government funds.
This, of course, excludes the funds coming from other sources, such as FIFA, CAF, or corporate sponsors.