-Cites Agyman-Manu’s Sputnik V Procurement Scandal, Infractions In Auditor General’s Report
Anti-corruption body, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local body of Transparency International, has rubbished President Akufo-Addo’s claims that his administration, has protected the public purse and made significant strides in the fight against corruption better than any other government in the history of the country.
Mary Adda, Programmes Officer at the GII, discredited the President’s assertions, saying there were still no significant positive outcomes in the anti-corruption fight, citing the countless infraction captured in the Auditor General Report, as well as details of the Sputnik V procurement scandal involving Health Minister,KwekuAgyeman Manu.
Speaking at the National Anti-Corruption Conference on Friday, December 10, 2021, President Akufo-Addo said, as part of his fight against corruption, his government, through the Attorney General, was prosecuting some high-profile persons for various offences including fraud, economic crime, procurement breaches and money laundering.
President Akufo-Addo, said the Office of the Attorney General and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), in addition to the countless cases being prosecuted around the country, have successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including a case of stealing in the Republic vs. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie & Others.
“Many other high-profile prosecutions involving corruption, economic crime, fraud, procurement breaches and money laundering, like the Republic vs. Alhaji Collins Dauda& 4 Others in the Saglemi Scandal; Republic vs. Ernest Thompson & Others; Republic vs. Dr. Kwabena Duffuor& Others; Republic vs. Stephen Opuni & Others, are ongoing. It is worthy to note that these cases have, as their sole object, the principle of holding public officers to account, and involve sums in excess of $850 million and GH₵2 billion,” he added.
But responding to President Akufo-Addo, Mary Adda said repetitive infractions cited in the Auditor General’s Report over the course of the Akufo-Addo administration make it “difficult for anyone to accept wholly and totally what the president has indicated.”
She also noted challenges with single-source procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the Sputnik V procurement scandal, where the government botched the purchase of 3.4 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccines at inflated prices.
Mrs. Adda, also questioned the lack of evidence of purported outcomes in the fight against corruption.
“Where exactly is that data that we can have access to and this is a question that Civil Society has asked before,” she said.
The President, had also claimed that the Attorney General, on behalf of the government, is currently leading the effort to enact a law on the conduct of public officers.
He said, “inasmuch as public officials are required to declare their assets upon taking office as a tool of fighting corruption, I am, however, of the candid opinion that existing legislation on corruption, relating to the conduct of public officers in Ghana, appears to be inadequate to deal extensively with public office accountability.”
According to the president, “the need to lay down a set of far-reaching and a more fit for purpose set of regulations for the conduct of public officers, which will give effect to the provisions of Chapter 24 of the Constitution on conduct of public officers, is, in my view, now self-evident”.
To this end, he revealed that the Attorney General, over the past four months, has undertaken various stakeholder consultations with a number of public sector organisations, civil society and other interest groups to this end.
When passed into law, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the Conduct of Public Officers Act will follow the example of legislation in other jurisdictions like the United States Ethics in Government Act of 1978, Public Officers Ethics Act of Kenya, and the U.K. Constitutional and Governance Act of 2010, in addressing issues regarding financial portfolios held by public officers before assuming public office, links to family business, improper enrichment, care of public property, professional practices, property, investments/shareholdings and other assets, self-dealing, partiality in the performance of duties, use of public or confidential information to further private interest, amongst others.
“The Bill provides a gamut of stringent administrative measures and sanctions to deal with violations of the law, ranging from a bar against holding public office for limited and indefinite periods to penal measures. The Bill also seeks to strengthen the role of CHRAJ in the investigation of allegations of contravention of or non-compliance with the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, including conflict of interest, non-declaration of assets, and illicit enrichment,” the President added.
Updating the Conference about some of the important contributions of the Office of Attorney General in the detection and prosecution of high-profile corruption cases, as well as in the protection of the public purse, the President acknowledged that the state’s tight purse is very much affected by the award of judgment debts, in various unconscionable transactions.
“The recent example of a financial house claiming payment of interest of some GH¢1.3 billion after 11 years, from a transaction involving a meagre GH¢268,000 in 2008, even after the state had already paid some GH¢79 million, comes to mind”.
“Through the effort of the Attorney General, the Supreme Court declared further payment as unlawful, saving the State some two hundred and thirty million dollars (US$230 million),” he said.
He also told the gathering about how, on 31 July 2021, the Attorney General succeeded in setting aside a judgement debt in excess of US$15.3 million imposed by the High Court, Kumasi, in an action arising out of the activities of the erstwhile Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining about two years ago.
Interestingly, the New Patriotic Party Communications Director, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, backed the remarks of the President by citing the setting up of the Special Prosecutor’s office as evidence of strides made under the Akufo-Addo administration.
Though the Special Prosecutor’s office has faced some growing pains, notably the scandal that enveloped the resignation of the first Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, Mr. Buaben, said this was merely part of the process of fighting corruption.
“In the anti-corruption fight, everybody will be blamed left, right and centre, but it is not an event. It is a process.”
Mr. Asamoa, also said Ghanaians should be demanding more from institutions like the Economic and Organised Crime Office and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice as far as fighting graft is concerned.
“You cannot expect the president of the republic to be the micromanager of anti-corruption efforts,” he said.
The President at same event insisted that prudent management of the Ghanaian economy by him has made it possible for government to meet the development demands of Ghanaians adding, allegations of wanton dissipation of public funds are untrue and no one can prove such claims against his government.
“My government has spent a lot of money on education, health, infrastructure particularly roads, agriculture, industry, security services and the anti-corruption institutions than by any other government in the fourth republic if not in the entire history of Ghana. Furthermore, after all these expenditures, my government was still able to find some GHS25 billion to pay for the refund of depositors monies arising from the financial sector crisis. These expenditures indicate clearly what taxpayers monies and the revenues of government has been used for by the Akufo-Addo government,” he said.
He added that, “it is difficult to sustain any serious argument about the wanton dissipation of public funds in my time as president.”
The Akufo-Addo administration, has come under fire for what many say is poor management of the economy leading to economic hardship.
But President Akufo-Addo, insists that such claims are baseless.