The Fourth Estate has dragged the Council of State to the Right to Information (RTI) Commission over its refusal to grant information.
The Fourth Estate filed an RTI request on June 10, 2022, to the Council seeking answers to 17 questions relating to its meetings and work between 2017 and 2020.
After almost a month of filing the request, the council refused to grant the request.
Subsequently, The Fourth Estate filed an appeal to the Chairman of the Council on July 5, 2022, in line with section 31 of RTI Act 989 which states:
“Except as otherwise provided in this Act, a person aggrieved by a decision of the information officer of a public institution may submit an application for internal review of that decision to the head of the public institution.”
But more than 20 days after that appeal, the chairman of the council, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, has also not responded to the appeal to him.
Section 35 of the RTI Act says, “Where the head of the public institution fails to give a decision on a request for internal review within 15 days, the head of that public institution is deemed to have affirmed the original decision of the information officer.”
From the law, the Chairman of the Council of State has refused to grant The Fourth Estate the request just as the information officer of the institution.
The Fourth Estate has, therefore, petitioned the RTI Commission to compel the Council of State to release the information.
On June 21, 2022, the Editor-In-Chief of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni, visited the Council of State to track the progress of the request.
He was directed by the receptionist to the registry, and then to the secretary at the Council of State, but nobody gave any details on the status of the request. He was asked to return on another day.
When Manasseh requested a number he could call, the secretary claimed the Council of State had no telephone through which the public could contact.
Meanwhile, the host of Good Evening Ghana on Metro TV, Paul Adom Otchere, received the response to a similar request a day after he wrote to the Council of State.
Even before he wrote to the Council on June 8, 2022, for the eminent body’s attendance records from 2017 to 2020, the information had already been given to him for his show on June 7.
When Dr Elikplim Kwabla Apetorgbor, a special aide to Togbe Afede XIV, requested the same attendance list, the Council of State refused to grant him access but redirected him to Metropolitan Television (where Paul Adom-Otchere works) for the information.
Dr. Apetorgbor had submitted two separate requests, one asking for the attendance list of members of the Council of State from 2017 to 2020 and another requesting “information on travel allowances paid to members of the Council of State” within the same period.
Dr. Apetorgbor told The Fourth Estate that the response from the Council of State was a “selective application of the law” by the Council of State.