President Akufo-Addo has hit out at critics and anti-corruption campaigners who have chided him for not stamping his authority to dismiss appointees in his administration who have been accused of indulging in shady activities.
Addressing Members of the Bar on Monday, Akufo-Addo touted the progress of his government in the fight against galamsey by bringing them to speed on the penalties to be meted out to culprits.
“….We are now talking about minimum mandatory sentences of fifteen (15) years, and a maximum of twenty-five (25) years, for persons caught in galamsey, and the Act has also increased the punishment for foreigners, setting minimum mandatory sentences of twenty (20) years, and maximum of twenty-five(25) years.” He told the house
Speaking on corruption, he explained that it was paramount for the rule of law to be observed in all the sectors of government hence stressed the need for the enforcement of laws. He described the act of condemning individuals accused of corruption as a uncivilized, noting that it is ‘jungle law’
“Enforcement of the laws is the challenge we cannot fail. In so saying, Members of the Bar, it cannot be the case that people are condemned on the basis of mere allegations.
That is the law of the jungle.”
The Akufo-Addo government has been hit by a series of corruption allegations which have evoked pressure from the civil society, anti-corruption campaigners, opposition parties and the public.
The allegations include procurement malpractices at the National Youth Authority (NYA) which has resulted in the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Sin-Nyet Asigri; buying and selling of government contracts by the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Mr. Adjei Boateng Adjei, who has since resigned; botched takeover of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) by the Power Distribution Service (PDS); Cash-for-Seat allegation among others.
The lack of punitive action by the government has brought its credibility into disrepute owing to the fact that the president has given assurance of his commitment to fight against corruption since his campaign in 2016 and after assuming office.
Meanwhile, the government had instituted the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) which is an agency set up to investigate specific cases of suspected corruption involving public officers. It is also expected to investigate such cases against private sector players with the power to prosecute on the authority of the Attorney General.
However, anti-corruption activist Vitus Azeem, in an interview with GhanaWeb, opined that corruption seems to be worst under Akufo-Addo as compared to other governments in the fourth republic.
“It has been more serious in the fourth republic. And with every change of a new government, it seems to worsen and you can see it with this present government. It was not as bad as it was with President Kufuor; it was not as bad as it was under Atta Mills and Rawlings. But it is getting really bad now,” he told Laud Adu-Asare.
“Especially this 2019, the things that are coming out are very unfortunate and should not be happening. It’s worse under every new administration. It’s like it’s a competition … It’s like you’ve been in opposition for 8 years, you’ve come, you want to make sure that you gather as much as possible,” he added.
Last month, statesman and politician Dr Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe described as worrying, President Akufo-Addo’s posture towards allegations of corruption levelled against his appointees and officials in his government.
“The level of corruption under Akufo Addo’s government is the worst ever in the history of Ghana and if he doesn’t take care, there’ll be a civil unrest under his leadership just like the revolution that happened in the North of Africa,” he told Atinka FM’s presenter, Saddick Adams.
Investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, who has uncovered a number of corrupt practices within the Akufo-Addo government has asked the president a number of questions in a statement ahead of the Ghana Bar Association annual conference in Takoradi.
“Remind him that I brought his attention to a fraudulent and unconscionable deal between Zoomlion and the government that cost the nation more than ONE BILLION, SIX HUNDRED MILLION GHANA CEDIS between 2013 and 2019 without any written agreement,” he asked.
“Ask him why he and his party called the contract fraudulent, while in opposition, but when they took over the running of the nation, they renewed it without a written agreement. Ask the President why he failed to act even though I brought this to his attention. Ask him why he and his party campaigned with this remnant of the GYEEDA scandal but continued it after winning power?,” Manasseh added.
He also questioned whether there were “spirits from heaven or hell who descended here and committed the Australian visa scandal. All the officials have been exonerated and cleared by the Chief Clearing Agent of Republic. But the offence was committed.”
Meanwhile, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo has apportioned the role of fighting corruption to the entire Ghanaian populace while urging for a change of mindset to end the menace.
“I think we all know how we lose money through careless use of resources. You leave your office and you leave all the air condition on and leave all the lights on and you just leave. The office is paying the bill. Once power is being used, somebody has to pay. So you’re undermining the whole system. Corruption obviously takes a big toll on our resources because it runs through the system and we have to fight it and fight it hard,” he said at a forum in Accra.