Akufo-Addo Charged To Tackle Corruption

Five anti-graft civil society agencies have expressed furore over corruption reports and have charged President Akufo-Addo’s government to tackle the canker expeditiously.

The consortium comprises Ghana Integrity Initiative, SEND-Ghana, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Centre for Democratic Development and Citizens’ Movement against Corruption.

They reminded President Akufo-Addo of his promise in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency “to protect the public purse and uphold all the laws of Ghana.”

Article 35(8) of Ghana’s constitution states that “The State shall take steps to eradicate corrupt practice,” among other things.

The group called on the government to “expeditiously and transparently” address the various corruption allegations that have made the news since May 15, 2017.

The allegations include reported $1.5m corruption scandal involving two former officials of the National Communication Authority (NCA) – Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former Board Chairman, and William Tevie, former Chief Executive Officer.

The former Deputy National Security Coordinator, Alhaji Osman, and a private businessman, George Oppong, were also named in the reports that sent shivers down the spines of Ghanaians.

The allegation, reported by the media, stated that the named public officials were said to have allegedly withdrawn and appropriated for themselves $1.5 million meant for the suppliers of a phone tapping equipment.

Subsequently, the Minister for Information on May 24, 2017, was heard on local media platforms confirming the allegation.

There have been several statements of denials by the persons alleged to have been questioned by the Bureau of National Investigations, but the anti-corruption groups say it appears to have created and deepened the confusion in the minds of the public as to what exactly happened.

Another corruption allegation was related to the former Chief Executive of the Ghana Standards Authority, George Crentsil, who is said to have pocketed $1.2 million (nearly GH¢5 million) supposedly received as kickback from a construction firm.

The campaigners also cited reports of corruption scandal involving 15 senior officers of the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) which the pro-government newspaper – Daily Graphic – on May 29, 2017 reported that they were recently arrested for their alleged involvement in the loss of GH¢1.2 billion in revenue.

“Ever since these corruption allegations came to the public notice, there has been the usual politicking between the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC),” the statement said.

“While the government is claiming that its fight against public sector corruption is yielding results, the NDC is accusing the government of witch-hunting former appointees,” it added.

The GII Consortium and its collaborators therefore pressed on the government to make the investigations speedy and transparent to clear every doubt and confusion of the various media reports and follow-up denials might have created in the minds of Ghanaians.

“We call on the government and respective anti-corruption agencies as well as relevant state investigative bodies to thoroughly get to the bottom of these matters, apply the rule of law in the investigative process and deal with the matters as the laws of the country demand,” it said.

The Consortium lauded “frantic effort” of government to establish Office of the Special Prosecutor to deal with corruption, but said in the interim, the Attorney General should be prompted by the president to look into the matters quickly and transparently.

“Such speedy and rule of law approach will contribute to restoring public confidence in the government and the ability of institutions of state to fight corruption and protect the public purse,” it added.