Five Ghanaian citizens have petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to probe some ministers and deputy ministers in the Akufo-Addo administration over their failure to declare their assets.
In a petition dated June 14, 2022, the petitioners, who are all residents of Accra and Tema, want CHARJ to open investigations into whether the failure of the said ministers and deputy ministers to declare their assets breached the oath of office they swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”
Article 286 of the Constitution and Section 1 of Act 550 place an obligation on public officers to submit a written declaration of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by them, directly or indirectly, to the Auditor-General, (i) before taking office, (ii) at the end of every four years, and (iii) at the end of their term of off.
The petition is in reaction to a series of stories The Fourth Estate published revealing that more than 400 public officeholders either never declared their assets or did so partially.
Dissatisfied with the conduct of these appointees, the petitioners—Nicholas Opoku, Lolan Sagoe Moses, Crystal Selorm Amudzi, Francis Boye and Elias Elias Ashkur—want CHRAJ to open investigations into:
- a. The failures of public officers not listed in Appendix 1 (booklet containing list of those who declared their assets) to declare their assets.
b. Whether the failure of the above-mentioned public officials to declare their assets amounts to a breach of the oaths of office they swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” as mandated by Article 286 (7) and the Second Schedule of the Constitution.
- Take appropriate action against the defaulting public officers pursuant to CHRAJ’s mandate in Article 287 of the Constitution, including but not limited to:
a. Directing each of the defaulting public officers to promptly declare their assets to the Auditor-General.
b. Initiating legal actions at the courts against the defaulting public officers to compel them to promptly declare their assets to the Auditor-General or have them sanctioned for default, pursuant to CHRAJ’s mandate under Section 9 of Act 456.
The petitioners argue that given the importance of asset declaration as a tool in the fight against corruption, “we take a serious view of these constitutional violations.”
Article 287 of the Constitution states that “An allegation that a public officer has contravened or has not complied with a provision of this Chapter shall be made to the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice…who shall, unless the person concerned makes a written admission of the contravention or non-compliance, cause the matter to be investigated.”
This constitutional mandate is reiterated in Section 7(e) of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act, (Act 456).
On March 4, 2022, The Fourth Estate wrote to the Audit Service, using the right to information law, to request information on public office holders who had declared their assets from January 2013 up to that date.
The Audit Service responded with the data on May 17, 2022. Combing through the two booklets of almost 350 pages, The Fourth Estate did not find the names of 27 ministers and deputy ministers of state officers who served or were still serving in the Akufo-Addo administration. These ministers had never declared their assets since the Akufo-Addo administratin began in 2017.
At least 90 others, including the Vice-President, Mahamudu Bawumia; former senior minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo; parliamentary affairs minister, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta, failed to fully comply with the asset declaration law.
Only 19 ministers in President Akufo-Addo’s first and second terms fully complied with the law.
In February this year, CHRAJ banned the former board chairman of the Public Procurement Authority, Prof Douglas Boateng, from holding public office for two years for failing to declare his assets.
CHRAJ also banned the former PPA boss, A.B.A Adjei 10 years for his role in the contract for sale deal and also directed him to declare his assets within three months.