General News of Thu, 17 Aug 20175

Deal with corrupt officials now – Civil society groups tell President

Civil society groups (CSOs) have asked the government to formulate a road map to fight reported cases of corruption until such a time that the Office of the Special Prosecutor will become operational.

They also called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to appoint a focal person on anti-corruption and good governance to liaise and coordinate the work of the CSOs.

The delegation

A delegation from the CSOs, led by the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, made the demand when it paid a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House on Wednesday.

Other members of the delegation were the Executive Director of Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwettey; the President of IMANI Ghana, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, and the Executive Director of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Dr Steve Manteaw.

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The groups said the issue of fighting corruption was one of the main campaign messages of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the run up to the 2016 general election.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor would take a long period for it to become fully operational and, therefore, an interim measure or arrangement was urgently needed to deal with cases of corruption.

The group advocated a two-level approach to the establishment of that office, saying in the short-term, the office could be created out of a parliamentary act or, in the long term, a constitutional instrument could be enacted to give legal backing to the work of the office.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said although the CSOs were in support of the idea of the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, there were some aspects of the draft legislation for the setting up of that office that required attention.

Draft law needs fine-tuning

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He was of the view that coverage of the law needed more articulation, especially corruption involving public officials, and suggested that the law ought to focus on procurement and high financial crimes and leave other areas of corruption to other state institutions such as the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi also touched on assets declaration and made an advocacy for the expansion of the current law to cover all political appointees.

Beyond that, he called on the President to make the assets that he had declared public to serve as an example for all other appointees to emulate.

He said the fight against corruption would be greatly enhanced when all public officials made their assets publicly known to enhance the avenues of transparency and accountability.

Right to Information Bill

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On the Right to Information Bill, Prof. Gyimah-Boadi expressed reservations over the delay in the passage of the law, which was one of the campaign promises of the NPP.

He was also critical of the fact that in spite of the many instances of corruption reported by the media, no steps had been taken to deal with those allegedly involved.

The President’s meeting with the CSOs was the second and was meant to solicit views from the groups on how the fight against corruption could be given more fillips.

The meeting was also intended for the CSOs to express their views on some of the problems facing the nation and how they could be solved.

President Akufo-Addo said he was gladdened by the conscious efforts that CSOs were making in the country towards the promotion of good governance.

He expressed confidence in their ability to provide valuable inputs towards the envisaged prosperous future of Ghana.

After the initial remarks, the meeting between the President and the CSOs retired into a closed-door session.

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