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21 MAHAMA-ERA OFFICIALS FACE CHARGES OF GHC772m “CHOP-CHOP”

Politics

Twenty-one officials of the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government are being prosecuted for their involvement in various alleged acts of corruption and causing financial loss the state, involving a total sum of roughly GHC772 million.

Twenty-one officials of the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government are being prosecuted for their involvement in various alleged acts of corruption and causing financial loss the state, involving a total sum of roughly GHC772 million.

This was disclosed yesterday by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo when he addressed this year’s national conference of the Ghana Bar Association, which is taking place in Takoradi in the Western Region.

“So far, 21 officials of the previous administration are standing trial over their involvement in alleged acts of corruption or causing financial loss to the state, amounting collectively to the tune of some GHC772 million,” the President said.

Due process for all

President Akufo-Addo said the trials “are being conducted in the normal manner, with the safeguards that the law affords all accused persons, so that due process is respected. The courts will, at the appropriate moment, deliver their verdicts.

“I am expectant that the criminal conduct, if any, of those responsible for the banking crisis, which is undergoing detailed scrutiny, will be brought to justice very soon, if prima facie evidence of criminality is found, which, according to my information, is likely,” the President said.

The President also clarified the perception that he is handling appointees of his government who have been accused of corruption with kid gloves, saying people should not be condemned on the basis of mere allegations.

Not my job to clear …

“It is not my job to clear or convict any person accused of wrongdoing, or of engaging in acts of corruption. My job is to act on allegations of corruption by referring the issue or issues to the proper investigative agencies for the relevant inquiry and necessary action. “That is exactly what has been done since I assumed the mantle of leadership on 7 January 2017.

“If an appointee is cleared of any wrongdoing, the evidence adduced and recommendations made by these agencies ‒ after the investigations are concluded ‒ are what clear the accused persons, not myself. None of these agencies has ever indicated any pressure from the executive over their investigations,” he said.

The President however sent a strong warning to opponents that their orchestrated attempts to hang the tag of corruption on the necks of his government and himself, despite the gains being made in the fight against corruption, “will not work”. He reiterated that he did not come into public life to enrich himself.

They say, they say

Cataloguing the allegations of corruption levelled against his appointees, the President indicated that every single alleged act of corruption is being investigated or has been investigated by independent bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and, in some cases, Parliament itself.

“From the allegations against the then Minister-Designate for Energy at his parliamentary confirmation hearings; to that against the former CEO of BOST [the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company]; to those against the two deputy chiefs of staff; to the conflict-of-interest allegations against the Minister for Finance; to the claims of extortion against the Trade and Industry Minister; to allegations of dabbling in visa racketeering against the then Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, the then director general of the National Sports Authority, who, even though exonerated by the CID, later resigned, and the chairperson of the board of the National Sports Authority; to the allegations of bribery levelled against the Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining; to the latest involving the suspended acting CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and the dismissed CEO of the National Youth Authority – they have all been investigated or are being investigated by the authorised institutions of our state, and not by President Akufo-Addo,” he stressed.

Anti-corruption efforts

The President further said that his government has systematically increased funding for the accountability institutions of state, including Parliament, the judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, CHRAJ and the Auditor General’s Department.

He said 2017 witnessed a 25 per cent increase in allocations to these five institutions over funding in 2016, adding, “2018 witnessed a 34 per cent increase over 2017; and the 2019 mid-year budgetary allocation is virtually at par with 2018.”

President Akufo-Addo recalled that the Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, acknowledged this fact on June 18 this year, thanking the government for the “substantial increase in support” his outfit received.

Mr Domelevo said, “The executive has played its part. I hope you are aware when there was a change in government, the first announcement we heard was a ban on procurement of vehicles, is that not it?
“But this was the time government gave us the permission to buy 34 vehicles to support the Audit Service. We had never bought ten vehicles in the history of the Audit Service before.”

OSP

In addition, the President reiterated the fulfilment of his campaign promise to establish an independent Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to focus on prosecution of corruption-related offences.

The office, he said, “is up and running, manned by an experienced, well-known prosecutor, who has been an active member of the opposition National Democratic Congress, and cannot be described, by any stretch of the imagination, as a member or sympathiser of the ruling New Patriotic Party.

“His appointment was deliberate to highlight the independent nature of the Office. I am optimistic his work will justify the confidence the Ghanaian people and I have in him,” President Akufo-Addo said.