Feature Article of Fri, 21 Apr 20174
Editorial: EOCO must look further afield
The power of witch-hunting allegation as a tool of stalling investigations in polarized political systems such as ours in which state institutions are begging for reforms is beyond imagination.
It is the most preferred means of attracting negative attention to investigations into suspected instances of major financial malfeasances against the state by mischievous political players.
In systems where state institutions work according to the statutes setting them up, such allegations have no place and would usually not have any effect on sincere efforts to bring culprits to book.
We have observed in the past few days since the Economic & Organised Crime Office (EOCO) began dealing with issues before them about growing efforts at presenting the state agency as a witch-hunting body obsessed with chasing former government functionaries and businessmen. Nothing could be far from the truth.
It is unfortunate that a few members of society would traverse such dangerous tangent and expect not to be regarded as villains and nation wreckers.
Fortunately, we can count on majority of Ghanaians to be against such bunkum which is nothing but a useless project to stall the efforts of the agency.
Ghana is certainly at the crossroads. We have, as a people, a rare opportunity to change the way things are done in a modern society where development is the cornerstone of all state policies.
We cannot witness growth when the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Agency (GRA) receives post-dated cheques for the payment of imports. It is not done and therefore considered an aberration which falls short of best practices. Indeed, it is a breach of the standard in this country.
Are those screaming their hearts out about EOCO doing its work comfortable with this arrangement and the blatant breach of standards by state institutions such as the Customs Division of the GRA? Such persons cannot pass for patriotic Ghanaians who are ready to let the interests of the nation overshadow their individual and myopic considerations.
EOCO, it is our position, should identify the customs officers at the highest level who allowed the regulations guiding payment of duties to be so abused.
It is certainly not a norm to accept cheques for the payment of customs duties let alone post-dated ones for two years. Such selective application of regulations does not make for good governance and optimum revenue collection.
The bending of the rule could not have been allowed by the lowly customs officers at the Port of Tema without an order from the topmost hierarchy of customs administration.
By this commentary, we demand the identification of whoever such persons are in the GRA so they can be questioned and possibly charged for negligence and other related charges.
If we want our country to work again, we should not shy away from taking actions intended to reverse the retrogression which the country witnessed in the past years.
EOCO and other investigative agencies must look beyond direct perpetrators of financial loss to the state. They must haul in for questioning public servants who facilitated the rip-off.
Until this is done, the dividends of the change we so love would not come to us.
Countries which have witnessed radical growth adopted similar hotheaded measures to reach where they are today.
Those who cheat the state and their accomplices in public service must face similar charges and possible prosecutions. EOCO, carry on and let truth be your guiding principle.
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