The Right to Information (RTI) Commission has written to the Council of State to explain its refusal to grant the Editor-In-Chief of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni, access to information.
The letter dated September 7, 2022, and addressed to the Chairman of the Council, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, the Omanhene of Asante Juaben, gave the Council 14 days to provide its response.
“Be advised, respectfully, that the Commission shall proceed to determine the appeal before it based on information available to it, where you fail to respond,” the three-page letter signed by the Executive Secretary of the RTI Commission, Yaw Sarpong Boateng, stated.
Mr. Awuni, on June 10, 2022, requested information relating to the meetings and work of the council between 2017 and 2020, but the Council of State did not respond.
The chairman of the council did not respond to an appeal made to him on July 5, 2022, in line with section 31 of the 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.”
His silence, which meant refusal, is explained by Section 35 of the RTI Act: “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.”
The Fourth Estate, therefore, dragged the Council of State to the RTI commission as mandated by the RTI law.
The RTI Commission’s letter to the Council of State explained that its request was empowered by sections 43 and 70 of the RTI Act, which mandates a public institution to assist the commission with an investigation when an appeal is brought before it.
Before The Fourth Estate’s request, the host of the Good Evening Ghana programme on Metro TV, Paul Adom Otchere, received a response to a similar request within 24 hours of his request to the Council of State.
Even before he wrote to the council on June 8, 2022, for the 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 TogbeAfede XIV, requested the same attendance list, the Council of State refused to grant him access, but rather directed 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.