Limiting president's powers will help combat corruption —Vitus Azeem 

Vitus Azeem  Corruption  Vitus Azeem, Chairman of the Tax Justice Coalition, Ghana (TJC)

Mon, 29 Aug 2022 Source: GNA

Anti-corruption campaigner, Mr Vitus Adaboo Azeem, has heightened calls for limiting the appointing powers of the President to help in the country’s quest to deal with corruption.  

The former Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) said that Article 70 of the 1992 Constitution gave so many powers to the President to appoint “everybody that matters in this country.” 

This situation, he said, was counterproductive in the fight against corruption and needed urgent corrections. 

Mr Azeem said: “The way we appoint people in this country, it’s natural for the appointed to think that you’ve done him or her a favour, that way you also don’t want to do anything to displease the person.

“Sometimes, they may even come with certain benefits that are not part of your conditions like a car or a house, and that’s the system that we need to change; always allowing one person to appoint everybody that matters in this country. It doesn’t help in the fight against corruption,” he emphasised. 

He was contributing to discussions on the “Labianca saga,” in which Ms Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, a Council of State member, is under investigation by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) over an alleged corruption and corruption-related issue. 

Anti-corruption campaigner noted that due to the way appointments were done in the country and its attendant favours “Even if the President or his people do not direct that don’t do this, sometimes, certain appointees are always thinking, will this not displease the President?” 

Such a situation, Mr Azeem said, defeated the efforts in addressing the issue of corruption, which the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) noted to cost the country $3 billion every year. 

He commended the work of the Special Prosecutor, saying, “He’s been bold and using the law that created the Office to go after people that are alleged to have engaged in corruption.” 

The President John Evans Atta Mills Administration Constitution Review Commission recommended the appointment of certain key officials of state to be made   by the President in consultation with the Council of State and with the approval of Parliament. 

The officials included the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Auditor-General. 

Mr Palgrave Boakye, the Government spokesperson on Governance and Security, said it was early for Ms Asomah-Hinneh, to be removed from office as investigations were underway. 

He said: “I think we are going ahead of the gun, investigations are ongoing, let us wait for the investigations to be completed,” noting that her work as Council of State member would not affect the work of the OSP. 

Mr Boakye assured that the law would deal with any individual found culpable of corruption and said: “Once the investigation is done and she is found culpable then an action can be taken.” 

On August 8, 2022, the OSP published an investigative report which disclosed that Labianca Group of Companies, a frozen foods company owned by Ms Asomah-Hinneh, evaded import duties. 

The OSP explained that Ms Asomah-Hinneh used her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division. 

The Office has since recovered the amount of GHS1.074 million from the company, while investigations continued. 

Source: GNA
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