The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Dan Botwe, has expressed worries about how private developers put up properties worth millions of Ghana cedis and yet leave their access roads to be constructed by the state when they do not pay the right property tax.
According to him, this situation, which has become the norm in the country, is worrying.
Mr Botwe, who is also the Member of Parliament for the Okere Constituency in the Eastern Region, expressed this worry on Accra-based Asempa FM on Wednesday, 27 October 2021.
The lawmaker said many of these private developers build without paying any property rate yet mount pressure on the government to construct roads in their immediate space.
He said if some of the Assemblies in these areas are able to collect the appropriate tax on some of these properties, it will be easy for the government to construct many of the roads.
Mr Botwe noted that some of the Assemblies sit on gold yet they wait for the District Assemblies Common Fund for their development needs.
“Many of these Assemblies, till date, collect flat rate as property rate without any valuation on the property and the land,” he lamented.
US-based Ghanaian heart surgeon who saved rapper 50 Cent jailed seven years
A Ghanaian has been jailed seven years
Moses deGraft-Johnson is a heart surgeon who saved rapper 50 Cent
He moved from Ghana to the US with his family in the 80s
Moses deGraft-Johnson, a Ghanaian native who came to America as a child and rose to prominence in the medical world, has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
According to a report by Tallahassee Democrat sighted by GhanaWeb, deGraft-Johnson, was a one-time jet-setting heart surgeon who walked away with millions of dollars for medical procedures he never performed.
The report stated that, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who imposed the punishment during a hearing Thursday, November 18 at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee ordered the accused to pay $28.4 million in restitution — the same amount he bilked from the government and private insurers.
In February 2020, Moses deGraft-Johnson, was indicted on 58 counts of healthcare fraud. He was accused of ripping off Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others by billing for expensive procedures he never performed on his underprivileged patients.
Federal prosecutors, the report said alleged he also subjected his patients to unwarranted angiograms, a diagnostic procedure requiring an injection, though his defence lawyers contested that.
Judge Walker, then ruled that, deGraft-Johnson performed such procedures but that the risk of harm to patients was minimal.
Under the US federal guidelines, deGraft-Johnson faced a sentencing range between roughly 22 and 27 years in prison, plus an additional two years. However, prosecutors said he deserved a downward departure from the guidelines.
Judge Walker agreed. He said the accused was cooperating with the government, and his supposed clean record and the “collateral damage” he and his family have already experienced.
Moses deGraft-Johnson, when he was interdicted in 2020 surrendered his medical licenses after he pleaded guilty. The court forced him to sell off expensive properties in New York City, the Hamptons and Miami.
DeGraft-Johnson made it known to the court that his children have suffered setbacks in school since his arrest.
“I wrestled with this case,” Walker said. “There are certainly significant aggravators in this case — the duration of the fraud and the scope of this fraud. There’s just no getting around it.”
On the final day in court, the accused who was in handcuffs and leg shackles, acknowledged his guilt as he stood before Judge Walker while delivering his judgement. He said he could not, however, offer an explanation for what he did.
“I take full responsibility,” he said. “I did wrong. All I can say is I’m very sorry. Somehow I took a detour and ended up where I am.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Moses deGraft-Johnson performed hundreds of “unnecessary and invasive” procedures for nearly four years and created false and misleading medical records that could cause other doctors to pursue a “mistaken course of medical treatment.”
“This physician compromised the health and safety of his patients in favour of illegal profit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jason Coody said in a prepared statement. “His acts not only violated the law, but the trust of his patients.”
About the DeGraft-Johnsons
Moses DeGraft-Johnson, the accused and his family, who have distant connections to Ghana, left the West African country in the 1980s and settled in Texas.
His parents were pastors; two of his three siblings became doctors and the other a nurse, his lawyer, Mark O’Mara of Orlando, wrote in recent court filings.
The accused performed the first open-heart surgery in the Virgin Islands and reportedly saved the life of rapper 50 Cent after he was shot in 2000 in New York City. He joined Capital Regional Medical Center’s staff in 2014, working as an independent doctor, and opened his own business, the Heart and Vascular Center of North Florida.
“While (he) understands that his behaviour in the instance case paints him in a poor light, he wants the court to understand that for the majority of his medical career he gave all of himself to those who entrusted him with their care,” O’Mara wrote.
His mother and older brother, Dr. John deGraft-Johnson, who also gave testimonials in court talked about their struggles as an immigrant family and how they achieved their goals through hard work. His brother, overcome by emotion, said he would trade places with him if he could.
“Judge, I just ask that you look at the totality of who he is and that he has a family that loves him,” his brother said.
Judge Walker said the defendant’s crimes started with him “playing God” and continued because of hubris and greed.
“His family described the American dream,” Walker said. “And he squandered it.”
DeGraft-Johnson’s charges were the result of an investigation by a number of federal and state agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Grogan prosecuted the case.
Massive love for Dr. Bawumia as thousands throng Walewale for mum’s funeral
There was an outpour of love by Ghanaians from all walks of life as they trooped to the North-East town of Walewale to mourn with Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his family.
Hajia Mariama Bawumia, Dr. Bawumia’s mother, passed away last month, precisely on Monday, September 13, and her final Islamic funeral was held in Walewale on Sunday.
Thousands of mourners stormed the town last month for her burial, but the spectacle on Sunday during her funeral was extraordinary and amazing.
It was a gathering of who is who among the political, traditional, business and religious class.
These high-profile personalities, together with thousands of well wishers from all over the country, turned up to show their love and respect to the Vice President.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and First Lady Rebecca were present while the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Opare, led a powerful government delegation of a number of ministers and government appointees.
A number of members of Parliament (MPs), both from the Majority and Minority side, were present and so were heads of security agencies, political party leaders, CEOs, and several NPP activists and groups, which showed open love to the Vice President.
On the traditional front, the Nayiri, who is the Overlord of Mamprugu and the Chief mourner, was present and so were several paramount chiefs from various traditional authorities across the country.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, was represented by a powerful delegation led by Nana Nkasah Boadu, Agric Nzemahene of Asanteman, who displayed rich Asante culture in his palanquin.
The religious front was also heavily represented with leading clergy of pastors and Imams from all over the country.
Members of the Diplomatic Corp were not left out, and ambassadors who showed up included the United States Ambassador H.E. Stephanie S. Sullivan.
The Islamic funeral was officiated by the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, and supported by several local and visiting scholars.
Tributes were read in honour of Hajia Mariama Bawumla, including glowing ones by the Nayiri and the Asantehene.
A touching tribute by the five sons of Hajia Mariama was read by the youngest, Yakubu Bawumia.
He was flanked by his brothers including the Vice President.
It is estimated that over 40,000 people from across the country thronged Walewale to mourn with Dr. Bawumia in Walewale between Friday and Sunday, leading to hotels in Tamale, Walewale and Bolga being booked fully.
Your embassy should have done background checks – Sam George jabs Dutch ambassador over visa denial
Sam Nartey George, the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram has accused the Dutch Embassy of not exercising due diligence in their denial of the visa application by colleague MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini.
Sam George in a social media post criticized the embassy for not conducting sufficient background checks on Suhuyini before refusing his visa.
He described as ‘flimsy’ the reason given by the embassy for the denial, urging the ambassador to ‘respect’ the diplomatic protocols.
“If the Embassy had also just checked the background of the applicant, the flimsy excuse of lack of social ties would not have been given as a reason to deny the visa. Respect MUST be mutual and reciprocal. The choice of route is yours Sir. Choose wisely. Cheers.”
Sam Nartey George was responding to a tweet by the Netherland Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul, who had explained earlier that persons who are refused visas should make known their concerns to the embassy instead of using media platforms to call out the embassy.
Jeroen Verheul in a reaction to a GhanaWeb story identified a gap in communication and encouraged the Ghanaian lawmaker to respect the relations between the two nations.
“If the visa applicant only spoke to us directly, instead of through the media, we could avoid a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunication in the (social) media. That’s why it is important to have diplomatic relations and bilateral embassies,” he posted.
Suhuyini said, he was denied an entry visa into the Netherlands with the explanation that he would not return to Ghana although he submitted all relevant documents.
“For the Netherlands to ignore my status as a member of Parliament with the responsibility to an entire constituency, which was known to them, my valid travel visas to the UK and USA and my numerous previous travel records, which indicate I have never overstayed any visit abroad, my beautiful family, and deny me an entry visa on the basis that, there was insufficient evidence that I have significant social or economic ties to my country to prompt my return after my intended visit, could only have been deliberately taken to provoke me and also undermine Ghanaian state officials and diplomats.”
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