When a journalist with The Fourth Estate asked the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, K.T Hammond, about his asset declaration status, the lawmaker responded with insults.
The reporter had sent a text message asking for clarity from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) legislator for a story as part of the asset declaration series being published by The Fourth Estate.
Information The Fourth Estate obtained from the Audit Service indicates that the last time Mr. Hammond declared his assets and liabilities was in September 2016.
According to the Asset Declaration Law, he is supposed to have declared his assets and liabilities at least three times after the 2016 declaration. He was supposed to have declared his assets at the beginning of the Seventh Parliament in 2017 and the end of his tenure in 2020.
At the beginning of the Eighth Parliament in January 2021, the lawmaker was again required to declare his assets and liabilities.
Though the information from the Audit Service showed non-compliance, the reporter wanted to crosscheck that fact with K.T. Hammond and other MPs who had not declared their assets and liabilities.
He, therefore, contacted Mr. Hammond through a text message:
“My name is Paul Kofi Gozo, a journalist with The Fourth Estate. I am working on a story regarding MPs who have/haven’t declared their assets. Data we received from the Audit Service indicates that you haven’t declared your asset since January 2021 when you assumed your seat in the Eighth Parliament.
“I would be grateful if you could confirm or clarify whether you have declared your assets as required by the law. This will help me produce a balanced story. Please, get back to me as soon as you can. Thank you.”
In response, the MP angrily said:
“Nonsense. Who gave you that stupid information? And don’t send me such foolish message again.”
Mr Hammond is a six-term MP and has been in Parliament since 2001. The law requires that he should declare his assets and liabilities twice every four years.
But the available data from The Audit Service from 2013 to date, indicates he has done the declaration only once instead of five times.
The Fourth Estate wrote to the Audit Service on March 4, 2022, using the right to information (RTI) law, to request information on public office holders who had declared their assets from January 2013 up to 2022.
The Audit Service responded with the data on May 17, 2022. The information showed that a number of MPs, including a majority of their leaders, had not complied with the Asset Declaration Act
What the law says
According to Act 550, Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification), public officers (including the members of parliament) are expected to declare their assets within six months in office and latest by six months after Parliament is dissolved.
“The declaration shall be made by the public officer— (a) before taking office; (b) at the end of every four years; and (c) at the end of the term of his office and shall, in any event, be submitted not later than 6 months of the occurrence of any of the events specified in this subsection.”
Per the law, all the members of parliament, including its leaders, were supposed to declare their assets before taking office.
The legislators, like other public office holders covered by the law, are required to declare their assets relating to:
(a)lands, houses and buildings;
(d) trust or family property in respect of which the officer has beneficial interest;
(e) vehicles, plant and machinery, fishing boats, trawlers, generating plants;
(f) business interests;
(g) securities and bank balances;
(h) bonds and treasury bills;
(i) jewellery of the value of ¢5 million [now ¢500] or above; objects of art of the value of ¢5 million or above;
(j) life and other insurance policies;
(k) such other properties as are specified on the declaration form.
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