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General News of Saturday, 27 March 2021

Source: Class FM

Domelevo saga: Presidency's response to CSOs 'a bit too sensitive', 'verbose' – McBagonluri

The response of the Presidency to a protest letter from anti-corruption CSOs in connection with the recent forceful retirement of Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo could have been shelved, Prof Fred McBagonluri, President and Provost, Academic City University College, has suggested.

In his view, “the response to the CSOs was a little bit too sensitive in my opinion”.

“I think it was verbose”, he told Class91.3FM’s current affairs programme ‘The Watchdog’ on Saturday, 27 March 2021.

“Look, if I were the President’s adviser, I think I’ll just shelve it”, Prof McBagonluri told show host Eugene Bawelle.

“If you are in politics, you have to have thick skin. You can’t just be that jumpy”, he said.

However, Ejisu MP John Kumah, who featured on the same show, disagreed, insisting when an issue is about facts, it necessarily must be responded to.

In the response to the CSOs, President Akufo-Addo’s office described as “thoughtless loose” talk, a claim by Prof Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, the co-founder and Executive Director of the Afrobarometer Network, that his [the President’s] anti-corruption credibility is in “tatters” and, indeed, “has been in tatters for a while”.

Condemning the President’s forceful retiring of Auditor-General Daniel Yao Domelevo in a recent interview, Prof Gyimah-Boadi said: “I see Domelevo as a victim of well-orchestrated actions by individuals who are officials and by state institutions,” he said.

As far as he was concerned, “Mr Domelevo was exercising proper constitutional and legal oversight and officials and institutions that Mr. Domelevo has sought to hold to account”.

“The man was doing his best to protect the public purse to claim surcharges for improperly spent public funds. “One who is trying to fight corruption is one who is being persecuted and hounded out of office,” he noted.

In the President’s response, however, Jubilee House said it found it “very disappointing to hear a very senior and otherwise distinguished member of civil society make such loose and thoughtless statements like the President’s credibility on anti-corruption is in ‘tatters’ and ‘has been in tatters for a while’, and that the compulsory retirement of Mr Domelevo puts the nail in the coffin of the President’s credibility”.

“Such statements are not based on facts and driven likely by emotions”, the Presidency said, adding: “The fact is that the President’s credibility on anti-corruption is unmatched and no amount of misconceived opinions can change that”, the letter signed by the President’s Executive Secretary, Nana Asante Bediatuo, said.

In the view of the presidency, the silence of the CSOs on Mr Domelevo’s “unacceptable and unconscionable conduct” in office left much to desire.

“It is noteworthy that no sound of caution or condemnation was heard from you or your colleagues in civil society when Mr Domelevo was using his office to engage in such unacceptable and unconscionable conduct. Indeed, a less charitable perspective would be that this was a patent abuse of office. Yet, there was no chatter from our friends of Civil Society,” the statement added.

According to the President, “never had he held the view that the work of Mr Domelevo was embarrassing his government”.

Almost a month ago, the President asked Mr Domelevo to go home, since he has passed the compulsory retirement age of 60.

In a 3 March 2021 correspondence to that effect, the President, through his secretary, Nana Bediatuo Asante, said, “The attention of the President of the Republic has been drawn to records and documents made available to this Office by the Audit Service, that indicate that your date of birth is 1st June 1960, and that in accordance with article 199 (1) of the Constitution, your date of retirement as Auditor-General was 1st June 2020.”

“Based on this information, the President is of the view that you have formally left office,” the President said.

Mr Domelevo reported to work at the Audit Service Headquarters in Accra on Wednesday, 3 March 2021, at 8:20 despite the Audit Service Board having declared him retired.

He resumed work after his forced 167-day leave ended on Tuesday, 2 March 2021 despite the Board questioning his nationality and age.

The Board said his own Social Security and National Insurance Trust records showed he was a Togolese and not a Ghanaian and also due for retirement.

The Board, in a series of correspondence with Mr Domelevo, said he was born in 1960 per his own records and, thus, should have gone on retirement mid-2020.

In a letter dated, 26th February 2021, the Audit Service Board said: “Records at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) completed and signed by you indicate your date of birth as 1st June 1960 when you joined the scheme on 1st October 1978. The records show that you stated your tribe as Togolese and a non-Ghanaian. That your home town is Agbatofe.”

“On 25th October 1992, you completed and signed a SSNIT Change of Beneficiary Nomination form, stating your nationality as a Ghanaian and your home town as Ada in the Greater Accra Region. The date of birth on your Ghanaian passport number A45800, issued on 28th February 1996 is 1st June 1961. That place of birth is stated as Kumasi, Ashanti Region,” the letter said.

In his reply, Mr Domelevo explained that his grandfather, Augustine Domelevo, was a native of Ada in the Greater Accra Region but migrated to Togo and stayed at Agbatofe.

“Either my father wrongly mentioned Agbatofe in Togo as his home town to me, or I misconstrued it at the time”, Mr Domelevo explained, adding: “My mother is also a Ghanaian”.

Concerning his date of birth, Mr Domelevo said he noticed that the 1960 date of birth was a mistake when “I checked my information in the baptismal register of the Catholic Church in Adeemmra.”

“The register has Yaw as part of my name and also provides my date of birth as 1st June 1961 – this corresponds with Thursday or Yaw – the day of the week on which I was born.”

The Audit Service Board, however, said: “Observation of your responses and explanations contained in your above reference letter make your date of birth and Ghanaian nationality even more doubtful and clearly establishes that you have made false statements contrary to law.”

“Records made available to the Board indicate that your date of retirement was 1st June 2020 and as far as the Audit Service is concerned you are deemed to have retired,” it noted.

“By a copy of this letter, the Board is informing the President, who is your appointing authority, to take necessary action. Additionally, the Board is making available to the President all the relevant documents at our disposal.”

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