General News of 2014-03-28

‘Punish top officials at EOCO’

The host of the anti-corruption talk show, Mr. Abraham Agbozo, has called for serious penalties to be applied to persons responsible for the illegal use of money in bank accounts frozen for the purposes of investigation.

This week’s show focused on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and their role in the fight against corruption.

Mr. Agbozo, in this week’s final thoughts on the show, stated that “there has to be an enquiry into this illegal use of money in frozen accounts under investigation. The persons responsible for authorizing the use of the monies in those frozen bank accounts should be penalized.”

The Speak Up host, who is also a practicing lawyer at the leading law firm, Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah, stressed on the need to preserve the integrity of the institutions mandated to fight corruption in the country. He said “the integrity of the corruption fighting institution is as important as the process of fighting corruption itself. We need these institutions to be trustworthy. It is important that the institutions mandated by law to fight corruption are not corrupt themselves. The public perception is that there is a lack of commitment by these institutions to fight corruption.”

Mr. Agbozo, in his final thoughts, was highlighting the shocking revelation by top officials at the Economic and Organised Crime Office (“EOCO”) before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament that whenever there was a delay in the disbursement of funds from the government to the institution, EOCO “borrowed” money from the accounts they had frozen for investigation purposes.

Mr. Agbozo expressed concern about “the potential for even further pernicious abuse of EOCO’s powers if this situation is not checked and the persons responsible are not punished.” He described the following scenario to his viewers: “if EOCO needs money and there is a delay in the disbursement of government funds to it, all it may do is identify an individual or company, decide to investigate this target company and freeze its account in order to borrow money for temporary use.”

“It’s a slippery slope folks!” he said. “It’s anybody’s guess what other creative ways the folks at EOCO would conceive to ensure their survival” he further stated. He called for transparency during the enquiry and penalty process to restore the public’s confidence in EOCO.

Speak Up is an anti-corruption campaign aimed at educating the public on the legal framework for fighting corruption in Ghana and the institutions mandated to carry out that task. The show airs every Thursday at 7:30pm and repeated on Sundays at 8:30pm on ETV Ghana, and is sponsored by Star Ghana, DANIDA and USAID.

Thus far, representatives from the National Media Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Economic and Organized Crimes Office, Auditor-General and Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.