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General News of Saturday, 30 November 2019


EOCO probe: Domelevo runs to court

Auditor-General, Daniel Domelovo Auditor-General, Daniel Domelovo

Ghana’s Auditor-General has prayed the court to stop the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) from investigating him over alleged procurement breaches, since, in his view, that investigative mandate has been taken from EOCO and given to the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

EOCO recently launched a full-scale investigation into alleged procurement breaches by Mr Domelevo in the purchase of some vehicles for the Audit Service.

A private citizen lodged a complaint with the state investigative body against the Auditor-General, the Deputy Auditor-General (Finance and Administration), Mrs Roberta Assiamah-Appiah, and the Audit Service Board, accusing them of circumventing the procurement laws in procuring some vehicles for the Audit Service.

The petition and investigation both happened around the same period that Mr Demelevo surcharged Mr Osafo Marfo for supervising the payment of $1 million to private firm Kroll & Associates for “no work done”, as captured in the Auditor-General’s 2018 report.

Mr Domelevo, however, denied all the allegations and described the petition as a “storm in a teacup.”

In a letter to EOCO dated 18 November 2019, Mr Domelevo said: “You would recall that for close to four weeks now, your office has been inviting officers from the Ghana Audit Service including myself on the premise of investigating alleged procurement breaches in respect of some vehicles procured by GAS in 2008 for effective conduct and delivery of audit activities.

“I was personally invited by a letter dated 7 November 2019, which invitation I honoured out of respect for your office on 14 November 2019 only to be cautioned by your officers and asked for a caution statement which I gave. I had had to be granted bail – thanks to my driver – before I was allowed to leave your premises.

“A careful reading of your enabling law, the Economic and Organised Crime Act, 2010 (Act 804) as amended by the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) and from discussions with my lawyers, I am of the firm belief that your office does not have the mandate to investigate any breaches under the Public Procurement Act.

“In fact, I am advised that the relevant provision in Act 959, which amended Act 804, is section 80, and therein, your office’s mandate to investigate corruption and corruption created offices, which has been defined to include procurement breaches, has been taken away.

“Thus, this power your offices purports to exercise now, has been effectively taken away by the amendment contained in section 79 of Act 959.”

However, in response, EOCO, in its statement, said: “Per section 3 of Act 804, the functions of the Office (EOCO) are to (a) investigate and on the authority of the Attorney General, prosecute serious offences.”

It explained that serious offences are further defined in section 74 of Act 804 extensively and not restricted to corruption-related offences.

According to the statement, Section 79 of the Special Prosecutor Act, Act 959, is limited to corruption-related offences under the category of the serious offence of the EOCO Act.

“It does not oust the jurisdiction of EOCO from investigating other serious offences that are not necessarily of a corruption-related nature,” it added.

EOCO said the investigations are in line with its legal mandate.

Subsequently, the Auditor-General has headed to the court to over the matter. In his write, he said: “I have been advised by my lawyers and verily believe same to be true that [the] Respondent [EOCO] has no statutory mandate to investigate the [Audit] Service and myself, either jointly or individually for any offences relating to breaches of the procurement laws of the Republic of Ghana”, since, according to him, matters of that nature are “within the statutory province of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.”

He insisted “EOCO is clearly acting with impunity and without regard for due process and the rule of law and above all my constitutional right to administrative justice”, adding that allowing the probe to go on will amount to allowing EOCO’s “ultra vires acts to go unchecked for which I shall continue to suffer irretrievable hardship, damage and harm as [the] Respondent will disrupt my constitutionally- and statutorily-mandated duty to the Republic.”

“It is just convenient for the court to intervene to restrain EOCO from continuing with its illegal and unlawful investigations and arrests of officers of the Audit Service pending the determination of the present suit as the balance of convenience is in Applicant’s favour”, Mr Domelevo said, noting that he dragged the Crime Office to court because “EOCO is hell-burnt on carrying on its purported investigations and has no plans to stop unless this honourable court intervenes.”

The A-G is seeking an “order of interlocutory injunction restraining EOCO by itself, its servants, agents, and all such persons however called, from undertaking or continuing to undertake any investigation of the Audit Service and Applicant for alleged breaches of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).”

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