The sources of former Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah’s stolen monies have been explained, and these include family funeral contribution, funds from an external family member for a building project and that of a deceased brother.
Out of these monies allegedly stolen by Madam Cecilia’s former house helps, US$200,000 belonged to one Dorcas Akua Owiredu, a niece of her husband, whilst US$210,000 was for her deceased brother, Nana Akwasi Essen II, also known as Charles Dapaah, aka Kwaku Nantwi.
Three hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢300,000) of the missing cash was a family contribution made towards Madam Cecilia’s mother’s funeral.
This was explained by Assistant State Prosecutor (ASP) Akosua Agyapomaa Agyamang to the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court, Justice Marie -Louise Simmons.
ASP Akosua told the court on Friday that €300,000 and GH¢50,000 were respectively properties of Daniel Osei Kuffour (husband) and Madam Cecilia Dapaah.
Other stolen items
Other stolen items from the couple include five suits valued at US$2,500; five pieces of Kente valued at GH¢75,000; jewellery valued at US$95,000; female Kente, Hollandaise and GTP cloth all totalling GH¢56,000; Dresses at GH¢20,000; Handbags at US$35,000 and Perfumes at US$1,400.
About GH¢6 million of the stolen money was allegedly used to fund the lavish lifestyle of Patience Botwe, an 18-year old house maid of Madam Cecilia.
Patience allegedly spent over GH¢2 million on purchasing houses, about GH¢851,600.00 on cars, doled out GH¢100,000.00 to an ex-boyfriend and cash of GH¢72,619.00 and US$40,000.00 were retrieved from her.
The 18-year old allegedly has about five cars registered in her name and another, prices of four of them had been determined and one, a 2013 Hyundai Accent model’s price is yet to be established, whilst the monies were retrieved from two of her residences.
These amounts are calculations of some of the monies allegedly stolen from the Minister and her family by Patience alone.
ASP Akosua told the presiding judge, Justice Marie -Louise Simmons that, the teenager allegedly used part of the money to rent a 4-bedroom apartment and a shop at Tamale, and had her rented apartment fully furnished.
Although the State Prosecutor did not quote specifically how much was spent on rent by the former minister’s then young maid servant, the lower court was told that Patience spent a total sum of GH¢125, 600.00.
Patience Botwe, first accused (A1) is not standing trial alone, but with Sarah Agyei (A2), a 30-year old unemployed and also former domestic worker of Madam Cecelia.
The rest of the accused persons are Benjamin Sowah (A3), Malik Dauda (A4), Christina Achab (A5), Job Pomary (A6) and Yahaya Sumaila (A7).
A1’s trial started from the juvenile court, circuit court and now at the third level of the court hierarchy, the high court.
Keys to the bed room
Sarah on the other was alleged to have been the one who gave keys to the couple’s bedroom and its storeroom to Patience to duplicate them for her. The teenager is alleged to have confessed that on different occasions, she stole money from the couple with Sarah.
Sarah served as Patience’s conveyer belt for the transfer of GH¢100,000 to Malik Dauda, an old friend of A1.
A2 allegedly bought a 2-bedroom house and had put up another one. It was said that often times, Sarah seeks the assistance of her building project electrician to count money in the range of GH¢5,000.00 to GH¢90,000.00.
At least two jewel boxes believed to be the property of the former minister were retrieved from her.
Charges, Plea and Bail
They have been charged with conspiracy to commit crime, stealing, money laundering and dishonestly receiving.
The house helps, together with the five others, one of whom is an employee of Madam Cecilia’s husband, Daniel Kuffour, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice Marie-Louise Simmons has granted them bail in the sum of GH¢750,000.00 with two sureties each.
One of the sureties should be justified with landed property and the other must be a resident of Accra, as well as gainfully employed.
The judge further ordered that the residences of the accused persons and their sureties should be inspected by the case investigator, as well as each of the surety is to provide a copy of his or her Ghana Card to the court registry.
Similarly, the police investigator is to take photographs of the accused persons and make three copies of each, and the cost to be borne by the accused persons.
The prosecution was ordered to file disclosure before December 12, 2023.
The court was told that the Complainants, Daniel Osei Kuffour, an Architect and Cecilia Abena Dapaah, a former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources are a couple, and they live at Abelemkpe, in Accra.
Whilst Patience and Sarah are former House helps of the Complainants, Benjamin is A1’s boyfriend and Malik is her ex-boyfriend and an employee of Daniel Osei Kuffour.
Christina Achab is a second hand clothes dealer and a former neighbour to Patience at Santana. Yahaya is an excavator operator and a resident of Sagnarigu in Tamale, and a friend of Christina.
Caught in the Act
The court heard that on October 6, 2022, Mr Kuffour left his house at about 7:30am on a planned trip to Akyem Oda, but returned home unexpectedly after the trip had been cancelled.
When he entered the house, he was greeted by an unusual noise from their bedroom and after walking to the chamber’s entrance, noticed that the door was opened.
Initially, he did not find anyone in the bedroom, but further noticed that the door to the storeroom in their bedroom was also opened.
To his dismay, he found Patience hiding behind the door and could not offer any explanation to what she was doing there.
With the assistance of Mr. Kuffour’s driver and the policeman on duty in their house, A1 was arrested and sent to the Tesano Police Station.
He later realised that five different men’s suits valued at US$500 each and five pieces of Kente cloth valued at GH¢15,000 each had been stolen. He then called to inform his wife who had travelled to Kumasi about the incident.
After Cecilia Abena Dapaah returned to Accra on October 10, 2022 she discovered that their bedroom had been ransacked.
She indicated in her statement to the police that it took her a couple of days to rearrange the things in the room, and during that exercise she realised that some of their items were missing.
Madam Cecilia found out that several of her personal items, including those of her deceased brother’s and a collection of jewellery she had for about 35 years, totalling US$95,000 were missing.
Other missing items she listed were various types of Kente cloth, Hollandaise and GTP cloths with a total value, Dresses, Handbags and Perfumes.
The court was also told that the Complainants found out that they had lost a bag containing about US$200,000 which belonged to Dorcas Akua Owiredua, Mr. Kuffour’s niece. Dorcas had sent the money to her uncle to construct a building for her.
Furthermore, they found out that another bag containing €300,000, which belonged to Mr. Kuffour was also missing.
An amount of GH¢300,000, being the contribution made by the family of Cecilia Abena Dapaah for her mother’s funeral as well as her personal money of GH¢50,000 were all missing.
It was further stated that an amount of US$210,000 was missing from a box that contained about US$800,000 belonging to Cecilia Abena Dapaah’s deceased brother, which was sent to her, together with some regalia for safe keeping, following his death.
On June 27, 2023 Patience and her boyfriend, Benjamin, were arrested in Tamale by the police upon a tipoff.
The accused persons were found in a fully furnished four-bedroom apartment, rented by A1 with monies suspected to have been stolen from the Complainants.
The police retrieved US$10,000, GH¢7,619.70, a Honda Civic salon car with registration number GE. 9771-23, an unregistered Hyundai Elantra salon car, seven ladies’ handbags, two HP laptop computers, 32-inch Samsung television set and a home theatre system from the apartment. The lovers were arrested and handed over to the police in Accra.
On July 1, 2023, Patience led the police to a three-bedroom house at Amrahia, which she bought for GH¢850,000.
Investigations revealed that she used part of the stolen money to purchase the house and did so with the assistance of Christina (A5), Yahaya (A5) and one Franklin Sarakpo, A5’s son, who is currently at large.
Several items were retrieved from A1’s Amrahia residence, which was fully furnished, including an amount of $30,000 and GH¢65,000 found in a wardrobe. During investigations, one Bernard Appaw confirmed that he sold the house to A1 through an agent.
Investigations revealed that Sarah bought a building from Blue Rose Limited (Real Estate Developers) at Budumburam-Kasoa for an amount of GH¢170,000 and was also constructing another building in the community.
A search conducted in her house, led to the discovery of two red empty jewellery boxes belonging to the Complainant.
A witness in the case, who was contracted by A2 to do electrical works on her building, told the police that Sarah occasionally sought his assistance to count money, ranging from GH¢5,000 to GH¢90,000.
Benjamin Sowah (A3) was arrested together with his teenage girlfriend at Tamale. He allegedly admitted that A1 gave him monies regularly, which he knew were stolen.
He confirmed that A1 rented a four-bedroom apartment and store in Tamale. He added that Patience gave him GH¢80,000 to buy an Elantra sports car for her and additional US$14,300 to buy a Honda Civic car for her.
He told the police that he saw a lot of dollars and cedis in A1’s handbag and in a wardrobe at her Amrahia house, which he knew had been stolen.
Malik Dauda (A4), an ex-boyfriend of A1, also admitted receiving GH¢100,000 from Patience through Sarah.
Christina Achab (A5) used to be A1’s neighbour. In the course of investigations, she admitted having received several amounts of money from Patience to acquire properties for and on her behalf.
She admitted that in January 2023, she collected an amount of GH¢800,000 from A1 to purchase 11-unit chamber and hall self-contained house at Budumburam.
She also admitted that on February 2023, she collected an amount of GH¢300,000 from A1 to purchase a three-bedroom house at Apraku.
Christina further collected an amount of GH¢1,000,000 from A1, and with the assistance of Job and Franklin Sarakpo, purchased A1’s Armahia property for GH¢850,000.
Police investigations revealed that Christina took several other monies from A1 and purchased three cars with it.
Christin took unspecified money from A1 to buy a 2013 Hyundai accent and registered in the name of Franklin.
Investigations further revealed that Job Pomary (A6), who is Christina’s husband, on or about September 2022 bought a house at Krokobite at the cost GH¢280,000 with monies received from A1.
Investigations further revealed that Yahaya Sumaila travelled from Tamale to Accra upon the invitation of Christina and was given an amount of GH¢850,000 to buy the property at Armahia for A1.
It was based on these facts that the accused persons were charged with the offences and arraigned.