Disregard for asset declaration law is attributed, according to speakers at the MFWA forum, to a poor sanctioning system.


At a forum on asset declaration by public office holders and the fight against corruption in Ghana that was hosted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), speakers said that many public office holders didn't follow the law when it came to asset declaration.

Beauty Emefa Narteh, Executive Director of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, stated, "I find it so disappointing that when public declaration by President Nana Akufo-Addo was challenged by the MFWA and information was put out there, nothing was done."

Following a series of publications by The Fourth Estate that revealed that numerous ministers, parliamentarians, and other government officials failed to declare their assets in accordance with the law, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) organized the forum.

The Fourth Estate's Findings According to information obtained by The Fourth Estate, only 27 of President Akufo-Addo's 127 ministers during his first term (2017-2021) fully complied with the law. This indicates that only 21 percent of ministers and deputy ministers disclosed their assets and liabilities.

50 of the 87 ministerial appointees appointed during the president's second term have followed the law, or 57%.

Only 39 out of the 102 ministers during the Mahama administration (2013-2017), including those who were reshuffled or resigned, fully complied with the law, a compliance rate of 34%. During the sixth parliament (2013-2017), 20 out of 275 MPs (7.2%) fully declared their assets.

 95 of the 275 members of parliament in the current (eighth) legislature have adhered to the law to stop public officials from illegally enriching themselves while in office.

The judiciary is the most obedient of the three branches of the government. 14 of the 96 appointed superior court judges have failed to declare their assets and liabilities. The judges follow the rules 85.4% of the time.

In 2017, President Akufo-Addo made a public statement stating that each of his ministerial picks had declared their assets. However, the series produced by The Fourth Estate demonstrated that many of them had not, which, according to Mrs. Narteh, ought to have prompted the president to take action.

“Consequently, in the event that the president was deceived by his appointees into believing that they had declared their assets when in fact they had not done so, my expectation was for the president to respond promptly and penalize those appointees for deception, which is a felony. However, nothing has been done up to this point unless it has been done in front of the public," she stated.

Mrs. Narteh criticized the asset declaration system for not providing the necessary framework for verifying declared assets and liabilities, which IMG 0212 scaled.

Vitus Azeem, an anti-corruption activist, noted that the "lack of commitment on the part of leadership" had significantly contributed to the non-compliance with the law. "So, I can say that the asset declaration regime, as it stands, has not provided the necessary framework for us to be able to ascertain the issues around verification of the assets."

“We met with the relevant parliament committees in 2008 to examine Act 550's regulations. Due to disagreements, we do not currently have the Act's regulations," he added.

The law gives the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) discretionary powers because there are no clearly stated punitive measures to deal with defaulters.

Cletus Avoka, the crowd MP for Zebilla (first row, left), was one of the participants. However, Justice Abdulai, a law professor at the University of Professional Studies, observed that CHRAJ had not utilized its powers sufficiently to compel public officeholders to comply with the law.

He claimed that this had encouraged such public officials, who were aware of the CHRAJ's track record of not being harsh with defaulters.

The Audit Service and CHRAJ are authorized by Ghanaian law to implement the asset to declaration law. On the other hand, public servants have continued to assume office and resign without revealing their assets.

The forum attendees urged CHRAJ and the Audit Service to "do more" and blamed the loophole on their ineffective efforts.

However, in its defense, CHRAJ's director of anti-corruption, Stephen Azantilow, stated that the organization was currently investigating over 400 issues related to asset declaration and had been doing everything in its power to ensure compliance with the law.

AZANTILOW Mr. Stephen Azantilow, the Director in Charge of Anti-Corruption at CHRAJ, defended himself vigorously against criticism that the commission is not living up to expectations. The investigation is the result of a petition that was filed by four Ghanaians and made use of the evidence that was provided by publications from The Fourth Estate.

Anita-Delight Danquah, a senior officer in the legal department of the Audit Service, stated that the envelopes were opened and the contents were verified. In the past, the Audit Service only accepted the documents without verifying their content.

Ms. Danquah stated that CHRAJ, not the Audit Service, was capable of handling the physical verification of all declared assets in response to calls for it.

They are the investigators, and we are the custodians, which is good news for CHARJ. When you bring it, we audit. We scrutinize. We ensure that everything is in order. We can't say for sure if it's true or not; we might need to go further, but we should stay away from CHARJ because they have the investigative arm. Since Audit Service does not, we ensure that you carry out the fundamental tasks.

Manasseh Azure Awuni, Editor-in-Chief of the Fourth Estate, stated, "They won’t go hungry if they do their work," despite the fact that public institutions like CHRAJ and the Audit Service were attempting to enforce compliance with the law. Domelevo, the former Auditor General, had a new job a week after he was fired.

His remarks come after he made the observation that some employees in Ghana's anti-corruption institutions were afraid of being hurt, which is why they didn't talk about some important issues.

What is written in the law?

“A person who holds a public office mentioned in clause (5) of this Article shall submit to the Auditor-General written declaration of all property or assets owned by him or liabilities by him whether directly or indirectly (a) within three months after the coming into force of this constitution or before taking office, as the case may be, (b) at the end of every four years,” reads Article 286 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. and (c) at the conclusion of his term.

The declaration must be completed prior to the public officer taking office, according to the Constitution. However, public office holders are required to comply with this requirement “not later than six months after taking office, at the end of every four years, and not later than six months at the end of his or her term” under Section 1(4)(c) of the Public Office holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act.


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