Year under review 15 stories that made headlines in 2015

Pulse.com.gh reflects on the year that was and extend heartfelt sympathies for all those affected by loss and terror this year and hope for a better 2016.

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What a year in News 2015 is has been! From the June 03 circle disaster to shady  3.6 million cedis spent on  branding buses. If you thought 2014 was filled with stories which left you gasping, just look at the big stories of 2015. Pulse.com.gh reflects on the year that was and extend heartfelt sympathies for all those affected by loss and terror this year and hope for a better 2016.

Circle twin disaster claims over 150 lives

Residents of Accra, are no strangers to floods which have become an annual occurrence.

But the disaster which hit the city on June 3, 2015 has never been seen and has been described as unprecedented.

A combination of extreme floods and an explosion of the Ghana Oil Company (Goil) at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle claimed over 100 lives and left dozens injured. Thousands of people were also left homeless after the heavy down pour.

Circle twin disaster play

Circle twin disaster

 

Adam Mahama's death

The year 2015 has not been a good year for the opposition New Patriotic Party. It’s been seven months since the death of Adam Mahama, the former Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who passed away on the 21 of May this year after a gruesome acid attack on him on the night of 20 May this year.

Adams Mahama’s death some have argued is the source of the divisions in the NPP which have been heighten this year. The chairman was returning from his construction site late in the night when the two unknown men stopped and poured acid on him.

Investigations by the Police led to the arrest of Gregory Afoko and three others who are being tried for the former Upper East Chairman's death.

Adams Mahama play

Adams Mahama

 

WAEC cancels BECE over leakage

In June 2015,  the West African Examination Council  cancelled five papers and postponed the writing of two following widespread leakage in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

A statement signed by its deputy director of public affairs Agnes Teye Cudjoe said WAEC is disappointed in the leakage of the Mathematics, Integrated science, Social Studies and English papers on social media platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp.

The release came after massive public concern over the leakage of the papers ahead of the examination.

BECE candidates play

BECE candidates

NPP suspends 3 National Executives

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) National Executive Committee (NEC) suspended three national executives from their respective positions.

The NEC upheld the overwhelming decision by the Disciplinary Committee which decided that Mr Afoko be suspended.

The General Secretary of the party, Kwabena Agyapong and Second National Vice Chairman Sammy Crabbe have also been suspended indefinitely.

  play (Paul Afoko)

 

The disciplinary committee took the decision after receiving petitions from some party members Kwabena Agyepong was petitioned by some members of the party for what they describe as gross disrespect and misconduct.

First woman EC Chair appointed, Calls for new Voters register

Mrs Charllote Osei was appointed by President John Mahama in June 2015. She took over from Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan who supervised six successful elections. Mrs Osei after  her appointment was faced with a huge a huge demand from the New Patriotic Party of compile a new voters' register.

Chairperson of Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei play

Chairperson of Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei

One of the stories which define this year is the call by the NPP for the compilation of a new voters register.

The party in a presentation said there are about 700,000 Togolese on the register making it incurably flawed. But the NDC argued otherwise saying an audit of the register will be appropriate.

This was followed by a demonstration by the Let My Vote Count Alliance which turned bloody after police beat demosntrators.

The EC after a public forum to hear presentations from political parties and civil society groups on the matter set up a five member committee to deliberate on the various opinions shared at the forum.

The party said “a fresh registration will go a long way to rebuild public confidence in the electoral process and this is essential for the successful conduct of a peaceful, free and fair election in 2016’’.

The NPP have submitted a document to the Commission referring to “PROPOSALS FOR ELECTORAL REFORM”.

 The NPP remains concerned with the disparity in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 election cycle. The total registered voters for the parliamentary election in the 2012 elections stood at 13,628,817 whereas that of the presidential election gazetted by the EC, was 14,158,890.

They claimed that 76,286 Togolese were discovered on the voters' register

Judicial scandal

Ghana was hit with a massive bribery scandal in September, when it was revealed in an expose by Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye team, that Superior and lower court judges took bribes from litigants whose cases come before them.

The exposé, titled Ghana In the Eyes of God: Epic of Injustice, was shown at the Accra International Conference Centre despite an application of interlocutory injunction served the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' property.

Meanwhile, twenty three magistrates shown in the Anas expose' on bribery in the judiciary have been removed from office.

Some of them were removed with benefits while others were let go without any benefits.

According to the Judicial Council the ones removed with benefits showed remorse.

The five member Committee which investigated the matter was chaired by Justice Sophia Adinyira.

However, Former Attorney General, Martin Amidu raised eyebrows about the credibility of the work of Anas. According to him, Anas' investigative piece was sponsored by the state, a report Anas vehemently denied.

Judicial scandal play

Judicial scandal

 

The alleged gang-rape of Ms Ada

A former Y FM presenter made the headlines in April after news of her alleged abduction and rape broke on Monday, April 13, 2015.

The presenter, named Adaeze Onyinyechie Ayoka aka Princess Ada was allegedly kidnapped by some suspected five rogues in the Western region with pictures of her allegedly being sexually assaulted circulating on social media.

After police investigations, it later emerged that the alleged kidnapping and gang rape of the YFM presenter, AdaezeOnyinyechie Ayoka was staged out by three suspects in Accra and not in Takoradi as reported earlier.

Ada has however denied such reports.

AMERI power deal with Ghana

A Norwegian news website, VG, on December 13, 2015, revealed that Ghana's Power Minister Dr. Kwabena Donkor has signed a deal with a Pakistani Norwegian for the acquisition of ten gas turbines for more than twice the actual cost of the turbines.

The story claims the cost of the gas turbines is around 220 million dollars and not the 510 million dollars Ghana paid.

 It also revealed that Umar Farooq Zahoor, the man who posed as the CEO of AMERI is a notorious fraudster wanted by Norwegian and Swiss police for spectacular acts of fraud committed in the last ten years.

However, the Minister of Power, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, in a statement has described the report as false.

The statement said, "per the agreement with AMERI, the Government of Ghana through the Volta River Authority (VRA) will only make payments to Ameri for power produced and supplied to the VRA just like any other Independent Power Producer (IPP)."

Meanwhile, the Africa Middle East Resources Investment (AMERI) Group has sued the Norwegian newspaper Verdans Gang AS  to the tune of $150 million for what it describes as unsubstantiated fraud allegations against the Group in the supply of a 225 MW plant to Ghana.

Kwabena Donkor on AMERI power deal play

Kwabena Donkor on AMERI power deal

 

BRT bus branding saga

The Ministry of Transport in December became the centre of controversy in parliament as debates on the 2016 budget continued.

The minority leader drew the speaker's attention  to an item in the accounts of expenditures made from the petroleum revenues fund  by the Ministry of Transport in 2015 which had to do with the amounts spent on branding 116 Metro Mass Transit buses.

Referring to the 2015 Annual Report on the Petroleum Revenues Fund, the Ministry spent GHC31,000 on branding the images of eight former presidents on each Metro Mass Transit bus.

The revelation of the cost of branding the buses led to public outcry with Parliament also asking for further answers on what led to the high cost.  

Pulse.com.gh later confirmed that Smartyys Productions and Management is the company that executed the branding of 116 Bus Rapid Transit Buses(BRT) to the tune of GHS 3,649,044.

Smartyys Productions  is owned by popular actress Selassie Ibrahim who is also the wife of Ibrahim Adam, a former minister of Agriculture under the Rawlings administration.

It later emerged that a pro-forma invoice dated 17th July 2015, and signed by the Accounts Officer of Smarttys Management and Productions and copied to the Ministry of Transport, put the total cost of branding for each bus at Ghc30,420.00.

The Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, has however directed the Attorney General's department ''to review the contract and associated payments''.

The Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor, later resigned from office.

She tendered in her resignation to the President Through the Chief of Staff on December 22, 2015, due to the current issues surrounding the branding of the 116 buses.

Branded BRT bus play

Branded BRT bus

 

President Mahama's contender emerges

The NDC Oyarifa Branch Youth Organizer, George Boateng was in the news late August after he declared his intentions to contest President Mahama in the party’s November 7 primaries.

The aspirant was later engaged in verbal articulations with some members of the party, especially Mr Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the party, who described him as having a mental disorder.

Mr. Boateng, proceeded to the psychiatric hospital in Pantang to get his brain checked in a bid to prove his mental fitness.

National executives of the party ruled out the possibility of allowing him contest President Mahama, arguing that the forms he bought were draft copies.

Mr. Boateng later stormed the party headquarters in Accra to submit his forms but he was denied entry into the office by some heavily built men.

George Boateng play

George Boateng

 

Dumsor vigil

There was a huge turnout on May 16, 2015 for the much heralded #dumsormuststop vigil organized by celebrities from the entertainment industry in Accra.

People from all walks of life bearing placards joined lead advocate Yvonne Nelson and other personalities like singer Efya, rapper and producer D-Black,comedian DKB,Van Vicker and several others to quietly protest the government's slow response to the power crisis that has hit the country over the past three years and has led to the loss of several job during the period.

#Dumsormuststop vigil play

#Dumsormuststop vigil

 

Clad in black with red arm bands,the thousands marched from their designated start point at the  Old Legon Gate amidst heavy police presence to their end point.

Asamoah Gyan's alleged rape scandal

Black Star's skipper, Asamoah Gyan made the headlines when a university student, Sarah Kwabla, threatened to make public what she describes as a secretly recorded video of sexual intercourse she had with him.

Sarah said she secretly recorded the video when the Black Stars captain had sex with her at her apartment in February this year and that she has decided to make it public because her relationship with the footballer is not going as she had envisaged.

The 22-year-old university student is also claiming she got pregnant after the intercourse and is therefore demanding that Asamoah Gyan gets her a furnished apartment, a housemaid and a monthly stipend of $1,000 for postnatal care.

The case was reported first at the Odorkor police station in Accra and officials of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) are reported to have taken over the issue.

The Attorney General after careful study of rape and unnatural carnal knowledge allegations made by Sarah Kwabla against Asamoah Gyan has concluded that the allegations are baseless and the docket should be closed.

Asamoah Gyan alleged rape scandal play

Asamoah Gyan alleged rape scandal

Amanda, Afriyie Acquah vrs Jordan Ayew

The controversy surrounding Black Stars midfielder, Afriyie Acquah's marriage to Amanda deepens as some portions of the recent leaked audio reveals that Afriyie is impotent. According to Amanda, her inability to conceive is due to Afriyie's infertility.

"If Afriyie is fertile, wouldn't he have impregnated me by now? Should I bring you cupful of prescribed medications he is taking for three months?," Amanda questions in the audio.

Amanda Afriyie Acquah made the headlines in a secret audio recording admitted to have an affair with Black Stars striker, Jordan Ayew.

Amanda can be heard in the audio talking about her past intimacy with her husband's international teammate, Jordan Ayew and how that often infuriates Acquah.

"Jordan and I have been good friends since childhood. We were being mocked from childhood and tagged as ‘husband and wife’. Even Dede Ayew use to say 'these people, don’t discuss their issues. They would fight today and you will see them together the next day,'” Amanda revealed in the audio.

"I have been with Jordan for four good years, not four days,” she added convincingly.

KKD rape saga

Ace broadcaster, Kwesi Kyei Darkwa (KKD) was on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, discharged by an Accra high court after rape charges against him were dropped.

He had denied the rape charges saying it was consensual.

Below is how the story unfolded:

KKD was arrested Saturday, December 27, 2014 following the alleged rape.

On January 12, 2015 the Ewuraeffe expressed her disinterest in pursuing the case.

She, subsequently communicated her decision to the police and also informed the Attorney General, the Registrar of the High Court and the Chief Justice.

On the 13th of January 2015, KKD issued a statement where he asked the public to forgive him for the ridicule and disgrace he had caused to the victim and her family and also to his family.

After the apology KKD was granted bail by the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court on humanitarian grounds on January 15, 2015 two days after his apology.

The court had considered his ill-health as a factor, saying it was unfair for him to remain in police custody while undergoing medical treatment at his own expense.

He was granted bail in the sum of GH¢20,000, with two sureties.

He was committed to trial at the high by the Kaneshie magistrate court on the 18th of February and appeared before the high on the 18th of March where the case was adjourned  Wednesday, April 21, 2015 to allow a seven member jury to be formed to start hearing of the case.

Prosecutors filed a nolle prosequi to discontinue the case citing the victim’s refusal to testify in court and failure to get more witnesses.

play Kwesi Kyei Darkwa

 

Recruitment scam hits Ghana Police Service

In June 2015, another recruitment scam involving a number of young men and women has hit the Ghana Police Service.

The prospective recruits carrying their trunks, mattresses and ‘chop’ boxes and holding their appointment letters converged on a house at Amamoley, near Sowutuom in Accra ready to be conveyed to the various police depots in the country for training.

Earlier reports made indicate that about 500 young men and women were given the recruitment letters and asked to report at the training depots last Friday. According to the report, those who showed up were arrested by the police.

Police play

Police

 

This later led to the house arrest of COP Patrick Timbillah, the Director General in charge of Human Resource which the National Security froze all the bank accounts following his alleged involvement in a police recruitment scam.

Over one million Ghana Cedis has been traced in his private accounts which the investigative body probing the recruitment fraud suspects could have been amassed through the rip-off.

About nineteen (19) persons were arrested by the police in connection with fraudulent police recruitment exercise.

COP Patrick Timbillah play

COP Patrick Timbillah

South Africa Xenophobia attack

he latest wave of xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals occurred in South Africa's Isipingo located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Thousands were displaced from their homes and up to five people were reported to have been killed when violence spread through the province. It began a week after Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, was reported to have said that foreigners "should pack their bags and go back home". The king later denied making those comments but within days the violence had spread to the country's most populous city Johannesburg.

Since the end of apartheid and the opening of South Africa's borders in early 1990s, migrants from all over the world, especially African countries, have flocked to the southern African nation's cities and towns looking to escape the poverty and political intolerance in their home countries.

People from outside view South Africa as a place of opportunity but with the country's economy in stagnation, strained by an already high unemployment rate, tensions between local residents and foreign nationals have escalated in recent years. And this was not the first time, the xenophobic attacks of 2008 left more than 60 people, mostly foreign nationals, dead.

Xenophobia attacks in South Africa play

Xenophobia attacks in South Africa

 

Garissa University attack killed 147 students

In early April this year, Al-Shabab militants stormed Garissa University in the north-east of Kenya, killing 147 people, mostly students, who were in their classrooms preparing for exams.

Witnesses to the attack said the heavily armed attackers targeted Christians.

More than 500 students managed to escape, 79 of whom were injured.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it a "terrorist attack" and said the UN was ready to help Kenya "prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism".

The BBC reported Al-Shabab said it attacked the university because it is at war with Kenya - Kenyan troops entered Somalia in October 2011 in an effort to stop the Islamists from crossing the border between the two countries and kidnapping people. However, this provoked al-Shabab to increase its activity in Kenya, the BBC said.

Garissa University attack play

Garissa University attack

Paris night of terror and Charlie Hebdo attack

Friday 13, November 2015 will be etched into our collective memories. On this date, terrorists carried out attacks across France’s capital. 130 people died, and hundreds were wounded.

Terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack which resulted in a state of emergency for France and Brussels.

The most deaths were at the Batacan, a venue hosting a rock concert where three armed attackers created carnage when they opened fire, killing 89 people.

On the same night, there were two explosions at the stadium Stade de France, and a third nearby, killing a passerby and three suicide bombers.

Gunmen, armed with assault rifles also killed 15 people at the intersection of Rue Alibert and Rue Bichat, in the 10th district of Paris. Many of the victims were gathered at a bar and a restaurant.

Paris night of terror play

Paris night of terror

 

France is emerging from one of its worst security crises in decades after three days of attacks by gunmen brought bloodshed to the capital Paris and its surrounding areas. It began with a massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday 7 January and ended with a huge police operation and two sieges two days later.

On Wednesday 7 January, a black Citroen C3 drove up to the Charlie Hebdo building in Rue Nicolas-Appert. Two masked gunmen, dressed in black and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles got out and approached the offices.

They burst into number 6, Rue Nicolas-Appert, before realising they had the wrong address. They then moved down the street to number 10 - where the Charlie Hebdo offices are on the second floor.

The attackers then hijacked another car, a grey Renault Clio, and disappeared.

Paris was put on maximum alert and a major security operation was launched with an additional 500 police deployed to the streets of the capital.

Three suspects were later identified in Paris following the deadly attack.

The suspects have been named as brothers Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, who are both French nationals in their early 30s, and 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad.

A spokesman for the French police told the Guardian journalist, Kim Willsher in Paris that the three suspects had been arrested but these reports have not been confirmed by higher authorities.

Masked gunmen shown shooting a wounded police officer in Paris after a deadly attack on the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, January 7. play

Masked gunmen shown shooting a wounded police officer in Paris after a deadly attack on the offices of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, January 7.

(Reuters)

 

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