President Akufo-Addo has expressed the need for government to ensure the enactment of a law to ensure public office holders are held accountable.
According to him, despite the fact that public officials are required to declare their assets upon taking office, as a tool of “fighting corruption”, he reckons 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.
President Akufo-Addo noted that in lieu of this, the Attorney-General, over the past four months, has undertaken various stakeholder consultations with a number of public sector organisations, civil societies and other interest groups to achieve this.
“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”.President Akufo-Addo
When passed into law, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the Conduct of Public Officers Act will follow the example of legislations 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. He indicated that this will help in addressing issues regarding financial portfolios held by public officers before assuming public office, links to family business, improper enrichment, care of public property among 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”.President Akufo-Addo
Prosecution of cases
Expounding on the important contributions of the Office of Attorney-General in the detection and prosecution of high-profile corruption cases, President Akufo-Addo 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 eleven 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 US$230 million”.President Akufo-Addo
President Akufo-Addo revealed that the Attorney-General succeeded in setting aside a judgement debt in excess of US$15.3 million imposed by the High Court in Kumasi in an action arising out of the activities of the erstwhile Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining about two years ago.
Commenting on prosecutions, the President indicated that the Office of the Attorney-General and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), have successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including a case of stealing in Republic vrs. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and others.
“Many other high-profile prosecutions, involving corruption, economic crime, fraud, procurement breaches and money laundering, like the Republic vrs. Alhaji Collins Dauda and 4 others in the Saglemi Scandal, Republic vrs. Ernest Thompson and others, Republic vrs. Dr. Kwabena Duffour and others, Republic vrs. Stephen Opuni and 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 $850million and GH₵2 billion”.President Akufo-Addo