When President John Mahama sat behind the microphones of the Twin City Radio in Takoradi in October 2015, he was categorical that all his appointees had met a crucial obligation to the state apart from swearing their oaths of office.
He told his audience, while in the Western Region to canvas for votes ahead of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer race, that all his ministers had declared their assets and liabilities as required by Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution and Act 550.
He also said although the declaration was not made public, it was obligatory for all his appointees to declare their assets “when they were appointed and when they will leave office”.
President Mahama and his Vice-President, the late Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, were sticklers to rules and declared their assets and liabilities within time.
A day before his inauguration on January 7, 2013, President Mahama declared his assets. He again filed his asset and liabilities on May 17, 2017, five months after he exited office.
Vice-President Amissah-Arthur, on the other hand, did the entry and exit declarations on March 23, 2013, and March 27, 2017, respectively.
The Fourth Estate has, however, found that eleven of Mr. Mahama’s ministers and deputies did not declare their assets. The list includes the former President’s Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani, whose duties included whipping the appointees in line with their legal obligations to the state.
Data The Fourth Estate received from the Audit Service through a Right to Information (RTI) request shows that the following ministers in the Mahama administration failed to adhere to the asset declaration law:
- Prosper Bani – Chief of Staff/ Minister of Interior
Mr. Bani was appointed President John Mahama’s first Chief of Staff in January 2013 (and later moved to the Ministry of the Interior). By June 2013 and June 2017, he should have declared his asset, but he didn’t.
His promise to call The Fourth Estate back to speak to the issue was not fulfilled. He did not return subsequent calls to him.
- Ekwow Spio-Gabrah- Trade & Industry
He was appointed Trade and Industry Minister in the Mahama era in October 2014. Per the law, he should have declared his asset by April 2015. When the NDC exited office in January 2017. He had up to June 2017 to declare his assets and liabilities. The data shows he didn’t.
When contacted, he told The Fourth Estate that “I have been a minister in four portfolios. I always have declared my assets, as I have nothing to hide.”
When The Fourth Estate asked for the evidence of declaration, he said “I would be very surprised to find such a document—a one piece of paper—important though it is—easily amongst my paperwork. Especially, having moved house twice since then, involving a lot of packing and unpacking.”
“But the Chief of Staff [Prosper Bani] would not easily have allowed anybody to get away with not filing. I can’t account for what happens after docs have been lodged with the Auditor-General. But I can check with my PA at the time, who I am sure was entrusted to handle this with the Audit Service.”
- Nii Osah Mills – Lands & Natural Resources
The soft-spoken former President of the Ghana Bar Association was appointed the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources on July 21, 2014. By January 2015 and June 2017, Mr Mills should have declared his assets.
On September 28, 2022, he declined to comment unless he had a one-on-one engagement with this reporter. He promised to call back but did not do it. He didn’t respond to subsequent calls.
- Victoria Hammah – Deputy Communications
She was appointed in March 2013 but was sacked in November 2013 after she was recorded allegedly saying she would stay in politics until she has made $1million. By September 2013, she should have fulfilled her asset declaration obligations. However, she didn’t.
She could not be reached for comment.
- Peter Anarfi-Mensah— Ashanti Regional Minister
A former headmaster of the Tepa Senior High School, Mr Peter Anarfi-Mensah, was appointed the Ashanti Regional Minister in March 2015. It means by September 2015, he should have declared his asset as a newly appointed minister and by June 2017, six months after the NDC exited office. He died in a ghastly road accident in August 2018
- Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum – Deputy Minister, Local Government
He is a second-term MP for Nkoranza South and was appointed the Deputy Minister of Local Government in May 2013. His asset declaration deadlines were December 2013 and June 2017.
He told The Fourth Estate that he declared his assets in 2013 but did not get a receipt for it. He, however, admitted that when he left office in January 2017, he did not do it.
- Victor Asare Bampoe-Deputy Minister of Health
Before his appointment as a Deputy Minister in July 2014, he was the senior fund portfolio manager at the Global Fund. By January 2015 and June 2017, he should have brought closure to his asset declaration requirements.
He declined to comment when contacted.
- Hannah Bissiw- Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture
She served in the Mills administration as a deputy minister of Works and Housing. In the Mahama administration, she was appointed deputy minister of Food and Agriculture in 2013. At the same time, she was the legislator for the Tano South Constituency.
“I did my declaration. We had specific instructions from the Presidency to that,” she said. When asked for the evidence, she said “I was given a receipt, but I didn’t know that after eight[six] years in opposition, you’re going to ask me for a receipt of my asset declaration. The government should have those records.”
She said CHRAJ investigated her at a point because of a petition filed against her for the construction of a house and other projects in her hometown.
But our checks show that the incident happened in 2012 a year before her appointment as a deputy minister in the Mahama administration.
- Ibrahim Mohammed Murtala – Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry
He was appointed deputy minister of Information (and later reshuffled to the Trade and Industry ministry) in March 2013, he was also the MP for Nanton. By September 2013, he should have declared his assets for the first time and done the second declaration by June 2017 after the NDC’s exit from office in January 2017.
He told The Fourth Estate that his asset declaration form was picked up by a staff of the Ministry of Information. Although the law puts the responsibility of filing the documents on public officials, Mr Ibrahim said the Audit Service should have followed up on it.
Paul Evans Aidoo – Western Regional Minister
The two-term MP for Sefwi-Wiawso was appointed the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister (and later Western Regional Minister) in February 2017. He was required to complete his asset and liabilities declarations by August 2013 and June 2017.
In a text message response to The Fourth Estate on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, he said he fulfilled his obligation under the law as MP. Asked for his receipt of the declaration, he said he was currently in his village in Sefwi and that he would search for it when he returns to Accra in October.
- Aquinas Tawiah Quansah – Deputy Minister, Central Region
He was MP for Mfantsiman and was appointed Deputy Minister for the Central Region in July 2014. He should have completed his two asset declarations in January 2015 and June 2017.
He could not be reached for comment.
- James Zuugah Tigah – Upper East Regional Minister
A civil servant turned politician; he worked in the office of J.J. Rawlings in the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) days, auditing the accounts of senior high schools and later became the Chief Treasury Officer of the Ministry of Health. He became a regional minister in July 2014. His asset declaration timelines were due by January 2015 and June 2017.
He could not be reached for comment.
Thirty-four others followed the footsteps of Mr Mahama by declaring their asset and liabilities when they assumed office and when they exited.
Apart from the 11 who never declared their assets, 12 others declared after they left office. When the NDC exited office, at least 38 ministers and deputy ministers did not fully or partially declare their assets and liabilities.
The full list of the defaulters is below:Mahama ministers
The law is calibrated to checkmate public officials from abusing their offices with illicit enrichment.
But its critics say, it is nothing more than a political charade as assets declared are not published unless ordered by a Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or a court.
Until the appointment of Mr Daniel Yao Domelevo as Auditor General, the Audit Service did not verify the contents of the sealed envelopes submitted to it.
The Asset Declaration Law
The law requires that the President, Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament, Deputy Speakers of Parliament, members of Parliament, ministers and deputy ministers of state, ambassadors, the Chief Justice, Judges of Superior Court, Judges of Inferior court and managers of public institutions in which the state has interest submit to the Auditor-General written declarations of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by them, whether directly or indirectly.
They are to declare their assets relating to:
(a)lands, houses and buildings;
(d) trust or family property in respect of which the officer has a beneficial interest;
(e) vehicles, plant and machinery, fishing boats, trawlers, and 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.
The political class’s failure to declare their assets is a systemic problem in Ghana. A number of ministers of the current administration, heads of state institutions judges and parliamentarians failed to conform to the law.
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