Statement: OccupyGhana officially responds to Auditor General


Occupy Ghana, an anti-corruption movement has officially responded to the Auditor General requesting the Chief state auditor to enforce to the letter powers arrogated him in the fight against corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

A leading member of the movement, Ace Ankomah during a public forum held earlier in the month gave the Auditor General a 30-day ultimatum to either use his powers to collect monies misappropriated by public officials or he would be hauled before court.

The Auditor General responded to the movement, insisting his office is an independent institution and not subject to any form of control.

He however offered to “educate” officials of Occupy Ghana about the obligations of the Auditor General.

But the movement is not impressed with the response by the Auditor General and at a second public forum held last week, Ace Ankomah did not mince words in reacting to the claims by the Auditor General.

The movement has however officially responded to the Auditor General as follows;

RE: REQUEST FOR THE EXERCISE OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL’S POWERS OF DISALLOWANCE AND SURCHARGE, AND NOTICE OF ACTION

We refer to the above-entitled matter, and write to gratefully acknowledge receipt of, and then to respond to, your letter dated 13th November 2014 (received on 20th November 2014), in response to our letter to you and the Attorney-General dated 12th November 2014.

We note that you sought to draw our attention to the independence that is granted and guaranteed to your office by Article 187(7) of the Constitution. Be assured that we were fully conscious of that provision, as being critical for the exercise of your functions under the Constitution. However, you fail to consider the contents of that provision together with Article 295(8) of the same Constitution, which emphatically states that that independence does not preclude the power of the court from inquiring into whether or not you have performed your functions according to the Constitution and/or the law. The article expressly states as follows:

“No provision of this Constitution or of any other law to the effect that a person or authority shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority in the performance of any functions under this Constitution or that law, shall preclude a court from exercising jurisdiction in relation to any question whether that person or authority has performed those functions in accordance with this Constitution or the law.”

You also fail to consider the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution which places a mandatory duty on administrative bodies and officials like you, to comply with the legal requirements imposed on you, and then vests in persons dissatisfied with your work, such as us, a right to seek redress by commencing court proceedings against you. That article expressly states as follows:

“Administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts and decisions shall have the right to seek redress before a court or other tribunal.:

Our complaint is that it is apparent to us that over the years, successive Auditors-General have failed to exercise the Disallowance and Surcharge functions of that office. We are entitled, as citizens of this country, to inquire whether your office has exercised them, and if so what the results were, and then how much money has been recovered for the nation. And, if your office has not exercised those functions, as is apparent to us, then we are entitled to inquire from you why you have failed, neglected or refused to do so. Surely, these legitimate requests do not amount to seeking to exercise any “direction or control” over the performance of your functions under the Constitution. Simply, either you have done your work or you have not done your work.

It is important to always note and consider that the independence granted to you under Article 187, which you seek to assert, falls within the context set under the Preamble to the Constitution that “all powers of Government spring from the Sovereign Will of the People.” That absolute will of the people is the source of your powers under the Constitution or any other law. Therefore, it is impossible to have any organ of government, such as your office, asserting that it is unanswerable to the people of this country, as your letter under reference suggests.

Further, the Constitution, under Article 35(8) places a mandatory obligation on the nation to “take steps to eradicate corrupt practices…” We believe that your Disallowance and Surcharge functions are key to ensuring the achievement of this objective. Thus, where it appears that your office has never exercised those specific enforcement-triggering functions, especially when you have found countless instances of corruption in the course of your audits, legitimate questions must be asked of you; and if you refuse to answer those questions, we are entitled to commence proceedings against you, to compel you to answer those questions to the good people of this nation.

We have also taken note of your offer to educate us and the general public on those functions after you have “carefully” studied our letter. We would not want to believe that you had not carefully studied our letter before writing your letter under reference. We await your promised ‘education,’ in the hope that it answers the questions that we have posed to you.

However, we respectfully remind you that the 30-day period stated in our initial letter still holds. If we do not hear from you, as you are required by law to do, within that period, we will commence legal action against you without further recourse.

Sir, be assured that commencing court proceedings is our very last, and least desirable, option. We will only exercise that right if you do not respond to us. However, do not doubt our resolve to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion. Please be advised accordingly.

Yours in the service of God and Country
OccupyGhana
cc. The Attorney-General
 Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department

 Accra
 The Chief of Staff
 Office of the President
 Flagstaff House
 Accra
 The Speaker
 Parliament House
 Accra
 The Majority Leader
 Parliament House
 Accra
 The Minority Leader
 Parliament House
 Accra

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