The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is demanding the Attorney-General withdraws a letter against the Covid-19 report published by the Auditor-General.
The opposition party believes the directive by the Attorney-General derails the fight against corruption.
On February 7, the Justice Minister described the report, which exposed widespread infractions by government agencies & ministries, as premature because it was published before Parliament had a chance to deliberate it.
But the NDC will have none of that and condemned the move.
“We need not remind the Attorney-General that Article 187(7)(a) of the 1992 Constitution guarantees the independence of the Auditor-General. It explicitly provides that, the Auditor-General in the performance of his duties, is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority,” the party said in a statement signed by its Communication Officer, Sammy Gyamfi.
The party also sees the development as an unwarranted interference in the work of the Auditor-General citing its propensity to breed graft.
“Only a corrupt government that has the penchant for whitewashing acts of thievery will be worried about the publication of Audit Reports.
“We in the NDC are particularly worried by this latest brazen attack on the independence of the Auditor-General given the unlawful manner in which the former Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel Yao Domelovo was hounded out of office for exposing similar corrupt activities of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government.”
What did the Attorney-General say?
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame protested what he says is a premature publication of the report of the special audit on the Government’s COVID-19 transactions by the Auditor-General.
He has consequently asked the Auditor-General to unpublish the report, pending the fulfilment of constitutional injunctions leading to the ultimate publication, including submitting the report first to Parliament.
Publishing the report ahead of its scrutiny by Parliament or a committee is unconstitutional, the A-G points out.
In a letter dated February 7, 2023, for the attention of the Auditor-General, Mr. Johnson Akuamoah-Asiedu, the Attorney-General referenced “various discussions between your good self and me regarding the effective implementation of reports of the Auditor-General on audits into the public accounts of Ghana, particularly with regard to the issuance of disallowances and surcharges.”
It pointed out that “the matters discussed have become more pertinent in view of the intense controversy generated by the publication of the report on the special audit of Government of Ghana Covid-19 transactions for the period March 2020 to June 2022 on the website of the Ghana Audit Service.”
Find NDC’s full statement below:
WITHDRAW YOUR UNCONSTITUTIONAL LETTER TO THE AUDITOR-GENERAL – NDC TO ATTORNEY GENERAL, GODFRED DAME.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has become aware of a letter addressed to the Auditor-General, by the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame in which he condemned the latter over his publication of the report on the Special Audit of COVID-19 expenditures of the Government of Ghana for the period March 2020 to June 2022.
The Attorney-General in the said letter, among other concerns, took umbrage to the publication of the said audit report which he describes as “premature” because in his view, same has not been debated by Parliament and considered by the appropriate committee of Parliament.
The NDC condemns in no uncertain terms this ungodly interference and intrusion into the mandate of the Auditor-General by someone who ought to know better. We need not remind the Attorney-General that Article 187(7)(a) of the 1992 Constitution guarantees the independence of the Auditor-General. It explicitly provides that, the Auditor-General in the performance of his duties, is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.
We can appreciate the discomfiture of Godfred Dame, given that as the principal legal advisor to the corrupt Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government, he is obviously worried by the putrefying rot that has been uncovered by the Auditor-General regarding how COVID-19 funds were grossly misused by functionaries of the government. However, we cannot help the fears of the Attorney-General who has to be reminded in very clear terms that, the Auditor-General’s fidelity is to the laws of this country and not him.
The Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) confers power and responsibility on the Auditor-General to carry out special audits, as has been conducted into the COVID-19 expenditures of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government. For the purpose of clarity, section 16 of Act 584 provides that:
“The Auditor-General may in addition to the audit of public accounts, carry out in the public interest any necessary special audits or reviews and shall submit reports on the audits or review so undertaken to Parliament”.
It is worthy of note that, Section 23 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (ACT 584) mandates the Auditor-General to publish reports of audits as soon as the reports have been presented to the Speaker of Parliament.
Therefore, contrary to claims of the Attorney General, the publication of the Auditor General’s special Audit report on the COVID-19 expenditures of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government was in strict conformity with the law. As a matter of fact, the Auditor General was duty-bound to publish the said report, which is precisely what he has done.
Godfred Dame must understand, that the Auditor-General in the performance of his duties is not subject to his legal opinions or interpretation of the law. His contention that the Auditor General has to wait for Parliament to enquire or debate audit reports he submits to the house before same is published is totally baseless and not borne out of the Constitution or any law in force in Ghana.
It must be emphasized that, the age-long practice of publication of audit reports by the Auditor General is a legal imperative and conforms with the principles of probity, transparency and accountability that underpin the 1992 Constitution. Indeed, it is through such publications that the good people of Ghana, in whom sovereignty resides, are able to appreciate discussions and debates on audit reports by their representatives in Parliament.
The Auditor General deserves commendation for faithfully discharging his duties and not condemnation. Only a corrupt government that has the penchant for whitewashing acts of thievery will be worried about the publication of Audit Reports.
We in the NDC are particularly worried by this latest brazen attack on the independence of the Auditor-General given the unlawful manner in which the former Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel Yao Domelovo was hounded out of office for exposing similar corrupt activities of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government.
We demand that the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame immediately withdraws his unconstitutional and distasteful letter forthwith and cease from any further intrusion into the mandate of the Auditor-General. And we call on the Auditor-General to totally disregard the said letter of the Attorney General and treat it with utmost contempt as same is unconstitutional.
We also call on Civil Society Organizations, the media, moral society and all well-meaning Ghanaians to rise up and condemn this assault on the independence of the Auditor-General by the Attorney General.
SAMMY GYAMFI ESQ.
(National Communication Officer)
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