The Auditor-General has directed the former Rector of the University for Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Joshua Alabi to refund with interest an amount of about GH¢300,000 paid as legal fees to private legal firm Lithur Brew and Company for no work done.
This is captured in the audited report of Public Boards, corporations and other statutory institutions.
The report revealed that an amount of GH¢2,302,369.67 released to some officers of UPSA to transact official business on behalf of the University, only GH¢353,279.43 was accounted for with the necessary supporting documents.
This leaves a difference of GH¢1,949,090.24 to be accounted for, even though the activities for which the funds were released had been conducted long ago.
Consequently, the Auditor-General has recommended that the amount be recovered as soon as possible.
The report also disclosed that the Management of UPSA, signed a retainer agreement dated March 16, 2014, and paid an amount of GH¢263,670 to law firm Lithur Brew and Company as a retainer fee but there is no evidence of the provision of any legal services to the University.
The report also noted that Lithur Brew and Company was appointed through sole-sourcing without recourse to the provisions of the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914).
The Auditor-general advised that the former Vice-Chancellor; Prof. Joshua Alabi and Lithur Brew and company be made to refund the amount with an interest at the prevailing Bank of Ghana interest rate.
The report also implored the UPSA Management to set up a legal directorate that shall facilitate all legal matters for the University through the Attorney General’s department.
Meanwhile, the Rector of UPSA, Professor Alabi has denied claims that he paid GH¢263,670 to Lithur Brew and Company for no work done during his tenure.
“It is also not true that Tony Lithur didn’t represent the school in any legal issue. No, there were a lot of legal issues that we referred to Tony Lithur where he went to court on our behalf,” he said.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Midday News on Friday, he indicated that the news came to him and Tony Lithur as a surprise after being contacted by JoyNews on the said accusations.
According to him, the governing Council of UPSA decided to use the services of Lithur Brew and Company and it was not his personal choice.
“In fact, I got to know from Joy FM this afternoon [Friday]. It has never come to my attention. I was shocked and surprised that such a report could come out. The purpose of the audit is to perfect systems, the idea is not to go and catch thieves.
“When you go with the mind-set to go and catch thieves you may do shoddy work as they have just done. From what you people [Joy FM] sent to me, it is stated that we just picked a Lawyer. It went through the Governing Council of UPSA,” he said.
He explained that the school had a previous legal external advisor before he took over and when his term expired, a new legal advisor was picked through the Council.
“So it is not like Joshua Alabi just picked somebody and placed him there,” he added.
The former Rector indicated that the assertion of no work done is false and Tony Lithur has in his possession the necessary documents to prove otherwise.
“Tony Lithur did work for the school. When you people sent this to me, I called him and he was shocked. He has also not heard anything like that so he is also going to go through these files to challenge whatever they said. He did work.
“At a point that may be in your house, you don’t have the files to defend it, but thankfully I called Tony Lithur and he has all the files. He worked for the school and the auditors are wrong, they have lied,” he explained.
UCC officials indicted
Two officers of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Kwame Fenyi, a Senior Administrative Assistant of the University’s Accra Office and Francis Arthur of UCC Enterprises did not account for the total revenue of GH¢55,557.60 collected between June 2017 and April 2018.
Also contrary to provisions in the Financial Administration Regulations, the report noted that the College of Distance Education paid a total amount of GH¢1,370,000 to two contractors for the supply of materials in transit but the items were never supplied.
The items were paid through various certificates issued without indications to the items, quantity, unit cost and others.
The audit team did not cite any documentary or physical evidence that such materials had been supplied to the projects even though payments were made to the contractors during 2012 and 2014 financial years.
The Auditor-General recommends that Management provide a list of items, quantity, unit cost and evidence of supply to the projects to justify the payments, failing which the contractors and the officers who authorised the payments should refund the total amount of GH¢1,370,000 at the prevailing Bank of Ghana interest rate to the University.