'Lecturer' Baako laments governments pussyfooting fight against corruption

'Lecturer' Baako laments governments pussyfooting fight against corruption
Source: Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com
Date: 06-07-2017 Time: 09:07:49:pm
Kweku Baako Jnr

Veteran journalist Kweku Baako says the fight against corruption under the 4th Republic remains unimpressive because of the weak-willed governments.

In a lecture replete with examples, Kweku Baako picked out the failure of government to prosecute public officers found culpable of financial malfeasance by the Auditor-General’s report on public accounts.

The Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper expressed his disappointment when he took his turn as the main speaker at the 13th Kronti ne Akwamu lecture organised by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development.

Speaking on the topic "the search for accountable government under the 4th republic", pointed out 23 positive developments and 19 defects under Ghana's 25 years of democracy.

Photo: Audience at the lecture held at the Kofi Annan Centre Of Excellence In ICT in Accra.

Dwelling on a defect, Baako said the culture of impunity, corruption and official graft under five presidents leaves much to be desired.

He revealed, it has taken three years for one case to be filed at the Financial courts set up to prosecute corrupt public officers.

Background

Embedded in the Financial Administration Act 654 of 2003, is a provision requiring the setting up of financial administration courts.

The Act prescribes a panel of judges included a Justice of the High Court as chairperson, a Chartered Accountant or a professional valuer as member

The panel according to Section 67 of the Act is charged with the power to enforce the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee on the Auditor General’s Reports.

The reports chronicling the sins of public and civil servants has been gathering dust over the years.

Parliament's Public Accounts Committee usually questions officials named in the report and after huffing and puffing, little is done to punish officials engaged in mismanagement and corruption.

Photo: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Ghana's parliament

Although the law was passed it was difficult to set up the court because the judiciary and parliament clashed over the provision requiring a non-judge to sit in judgement over public officers.

For more than 10 years, the financial courts could not be set up as public officers got away with financial malfeasance.

The Chief Justice Georgina Wood however moved to set up five courts in March 2014  - two in Accra and one each in Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale.

A year later, Parliament amended Section 3 of Act 760 of the Financial Administration (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act 760) to repeal the panel system with required a Chartered Accountant or a professional valuer as judges.

There was now going to be a Single Judge System.

Ignorance in Parliament

But all these developments appeared not to have been known to some MPs, Kweku Baako revealed.

He said it had to take the Chief Justice to remind some MPs that the courts were fully functional and ready to take cases.

Photo: Georgina Wood

"The parliamentarians were arguing that the court has not been set up. When the Chief Justice told them the court had been set up, they told her you have not set up the kind of court the Act said you should set up"

"The then Chief Justice says, no I have done it the right way. Double checking showed that, that particular Act had been amended. But parliamentarians appeared not to know they had amended the Act. Incredible"

The PAC after public hearings on the Auditor-General report can forward instances of malfeasance to the Attorney-General who will bring the case to the court for prosecution.

Kweku Baako revealed that his checks show that the single case in three years is one involving the Auditor-General and Africa Automobile.

There are hundreds of cases that ought to be flooding the courts, he said, lamenting the slow pace of work in recovering stolen funds and punishing corrupt public officials.

 

Listen to extensive recording of Kweku Baako's lecture

 

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