The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said it is not part of his job to clear or convict any of his appointees accused of wrongdoing or engaging in acts of corruption in the discharge of their duties to the country.
However, it is his job to act on allegations of corruption by referring the issues to the designated investigative authorities for the relevant enquiries and necessary action.
“Let me assure the nation that this is exactly what I have been doing since I assumed office and took the mantle of leadership on January 7, 2017,” he said.
The President said this when he addressed this year’s conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in Sekondi-Takoradi on the theme: “Enhancing national security through the rule of law: Prospects and challenges”, yesterday.
He indicated that at the moment, every single alleged act of corruption levelled against any of his appointees was being or had been investigated by independent bodies, such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), the Office of the Special Prosecutor and, in some cases, by Parliament itself.
Also, 21 officials of the previous administration were standing trial over their involvement in alleged acts of corruption or causing financial loss to the state, he added.
President Akufo-Addo said many of the actions taken by the government in dealing with alleged acts of corruption were within the remit of the law and expressed his commitment to the rule of law and the fight against corruption.
He said the cases, amounting collectively to the tune of some ¢772 million, and their trials were being conducted in the normal manner, with the safeguards that the law afforded all accused persons, so that due process was respected.
“Indeed, when one falls foul of the law, one must be dealt with accordingly, and the law enforcement agencies, including the Judiciary, must ensure this is done, albeit within the context of due process.
“The data for 2018 will be made available soon, but I am confident they will mirror those of 2017. The Akufo-Addo government is committed to fighting corruption, not just in words but, more importantly, in deeds,” the President assured.
President Nana Akufo-Addo mentioned some of the allegations of corruption that had been referred to the appropriate agencies, including the one against the then Minister designate for Energy at his parliamentary confirmation hearings; the one against the former CEO of BOST; those against the two deputy chiefs of Staff; the conflict of interest allegations against the Minister for Finance, as well as the claims of extortion against the Trade and Industry Minister.
Also, he referred to the allegations of visa racketeering against the then Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports; the then Director-General of the National Sports Authority (NSA) who, even though was exonerated by the CID, later resigned; the Chairman of the Board of the NSA and the allegations of bribery levelled against the Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining.
The latest involved the suspended acting CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and the dismissed CEO of the National Youth Authority, he added.
“The above allegations have all been investigated or are being investigated by the authorised institutions of our state and not by President Akufo-Addo,” he stressed.
The case of wrongdoing
“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 enquiry and necessary action,” he affirmed.
He said if an appointee was cleared of any wrongdoing, the evidence adduced and the recommendations made by those agencies, after the investigations were concluded, were what cleared the accused persons, not him.
“None of these agencies has ever indicated any pressure from the Executive over its investigations,” he said, adding: “We have fulfilled the campaign promise to establish an independent Office of the Special Prosecutor to focus on the prosecution of corruption-related offences.”
Law of the jungle
“In so saying, members of the bar, it cannot be the case that people are condemned on the basis of mere allegations. That is the law of the jungle. I am aware of the orchestrated attempts by my opponents to hang the tag of corruption on the necks of my government and myself, despite all the manifest efforts being made to deal with the phenomenon of corruption,” he said.
“To the opponents,” the President said, “I just have one simple answer for them: It will not work. I did not come into public life to enrich myself.”
Banking and financial institutions
President Akufo-Addo said the story of every bank, financial house or savings and loans institution that had had problems could be traced to someone or some people breaking the law or trying to cut corners by flouting regulations.
“When a building being constructed collapses and lives are lost, the cause can, in many cases, be traced to someone or some people breaking the law or cutting corners. When a road that was built barely a year ago develops potholes, someone or some people have been breaking the law or cutting corners,” he said.
To arrest the situation, he said, the government had taken concrete steps towards ensuring that persons who engaged themselves in some of the vices that had grabbed national attention were dealt with.
“The courts will, at the appropriate moment, deliver their verdict. 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,” he said.
The observance of the law, President Akufo-Addo said, was the foundation of every organised and progressive society and the promotion of the rule of law was at the heart of the GBA’s vocation. He thus urged members to be the natural champions of a law-based state, where the enforcement of the laws remained the challenge they could not fail to uphold.
“Governing a nation in accordance with the rule of law means that state power is not exercised arbitrarily by any arm of government, whether the Executive, the Legislature or the Judiciary. Respect for the rule of law demands that the separation of powers be real, and requires also that the application of the laws of the land be done without fear or favour,” he said.
“It is only when this is done that we can guarantee for ourselves the advancement of the purposes of a law-based state, where citizens can go about their lives normally and strive to improve on the quality of their circumstances and where the peace and safety of the people can be assured,” he said.
“Specific new laws have been enacted; institutional deficits in logistics and personnel of law enforcement agencies, especially the police, from years of neglect, are being addressed with their systematic empowerment; protection of the public purse is being manifest and prosecutions are ongoing of persons allegedly involved in acts of corruption or financial loss to the state, all this against a background of significant constraints in the public exchequer,” he said.
Protecting the public purse
President Akufo-Addo also emphasised the government’s commitment to protect the public purse and said in spite of the recent happenings at the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), leading to the suspension of its CEO, Mr Agyenim Boateng Adjei, an amount of ¢2.75 billion had been saved for the public exchequer from January 2017 to July 2019 as a result of the PPA reviewing contracts brought before it for approval, either under sole sourcing or restrictive tendering procedures.
That, he indicated, was in sharp contrast to the performance of the PPA in the years before 2017 when approvals were given as a matter of course and no savings achieved at all.
“An isolated case in point is the contract awarded in 2016 for the supply of 250,000 bags of ‘Asaasewura’ cocoa fertiliser. The contract sum amounted to $11.5 million, that is, $46 per bag of fertiliser. The PPA reviewed this same contract, under my administration, in 2018 for $7.87 million, that is, $31.50 per bag, resulting in savings to the exchequer of $3.62 million,” he explained.
He said there were many of such examples, adding: “Indeed, only 47 per cent of applications for restricted tender and 56 per cent of applications for sole-sourcing were approved in 2017, as opposed to approvals of 99 per cent for restricted tender and 96 per cent for sole sourcing in 2016.”
Office of the Special Prosecutor
The Office of the Special Prosecutor, Nana Akufo-Addo said, was up and running, manned by an experienced, well-known prosecutor who had been an active member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The pedigree of the Special Prosecutor, he said, could not be described, by any stretch of the imagination, as a member or sympathiser of the ruling New Patriotic Party, explaining that his appointment of a member of the opposition to the role 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,” he added.
The President of the GBA, Mr Anthony Forson, in his address, recalled the progress of the association and used the occasion to condemn the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, as well as revenge attacks in Nigeria.
What happened in the recent attack, he said, “is pure evil and criminal and must be dealt with as such. Violence has no place in any democratic civilisation”.
The Western Regional President of the GBA, Mrs Patience Diaba, said the region, apart from its contribution to the national economy, had also produced some of the country’s finest human resource in the entertainment industry, sports, among others.
The Western Regional Minister, Mr Kobina Okyere Darko-Mensah, called for support from the GBA to address dispute-related issues in the region to pave way for the development of the region and the country as a whole.
The Regional Coordinating Council, he said, was currently working with the traditional councils, the Western Regional House of Chiefs and the National Peace Council to resolve chieftaincy disputes in the region which dovetailed into land litigation.