“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. That is exactly what has been done since I assumed the mantle of leadership on 7th 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.”
These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Monday, 9th September, 2019, when he addressed the 2019 Conference of the Ghana Bar Association, in Takoradi, in the Western Region.
Addressing the Bar Conference, President Akufo-Addo stated that “it cannot be the case that people are condemned on the basis of mere allegations. That is the law of the jungle.”
Acknowledging 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”, the President had a simple answer for them.
Cataloguing the allegations of corruption levelled against his appointees, the President indicated that, every single alleged act of corruption is being or has been investigated by independent bodies, such as CHRAJ, the CID, and, in some cases, by 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; 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 doubling 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.
More so, Government, according to the President, has systematically increased the funding for the accountability institutions of our State, such as Parliament, the Judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, CHRAJ and the Auditor General.
“2017 witnessed a 25% increase in allocations to these five institutions over those of 2016; 2018 witnessed a 34% increase over 2017; and the 2019 mid-year budgetary allocation is virtually at par with 2018,” he added.
Indeed, the Auditor General, Mr. Daniel Domelevo stated on 18th June, this year, when thanking Government for the “substantial increase in support” his outfit received, 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 thirty-four (34) vehicles to support the audit service. We had never bought ten (10) vehicles in the history of the Audit service before.”
Additionally, the President reiterated the fulfillment of the campaign promise to establish an independent Office of Special Prosecutor to focus on the 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 sympathizer 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 added.
With 21 officials of the previous administration standing trial over their involvement in alleged acts of corruption or causing financial loss to the state, amounting collectively to the tune of some GH¢772 million, the President stated that their trials are being conducted in the normal manner, with the safeguards that the law grants all accused persons, so that due process is respected.
“The courts will, at the appropriate moment, deliver their verdicts,” he added.
“Many of the actions taken by this Government in dealing with alleged acts of corruption, and much of the narrative I have outlined, were unheard off in times past. The days when the ‘punishment’ of erring public officials was their relocation to the Presidency are over.
“Where prosecutions are called for, they have been or will be initiated. The war against corruption will not be won overnight, but, with political will, it will be won,” he added.