General News of Thursday, 31 January 2019
A lead anti-corruption campaigner in Nigeria has said that corruption in Africa wears no nationality as the attitudes of politicians in Ghana and those of Nigeria are the same.
Speaking on the Joy Super Morning Show Wednesday, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, said: “what is happening in Nigeria is a reflection of what is happening in Ghana.”
the Ghanaian politician and the Nigerian politician must be more sensitive and responsive when given political responsibility. It is not an opportunity to steal and siphon funds”, he added.
The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) said that political office “is given to serve the people.”
Mr. Rafsanjani made these remarks on the heels of a recent dismissal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari on account of the latter’s failure to declare his asset.
While faulting the executive decision on grounds that “many Nigerians and the international community are interpreting this as calculated attempt to have the judiciary inside their pocket in order to influence the outcome of the elections,” he also insisted that asset declaration as a measure to check political corruption should not be taken for granted.
“I think if we really want to stop corruption, we must enforce asset declaration which clearly shows what you have before taking office.
“We want to appeal to every public office holder, whether in the judiciary [or] legislature, to try and comply with the laws of the land. Otherwise, impunity will continue to rule in the country,” he added.
The views of the respected Nigerian anti-corruption activist and the recent dismissal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria reignited the debate on Ghana’s asset declaration regime, which was recently described as a joke by the Auditor General, Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the man who is mandated to be the custodian of records of such declared assets.
However, on the same program, Head of Joy News’ investigative desk, Manasseh Azure Awuni, asserted that “when it comes to corruption in Ghana, the problem is our inability to explain sources of wealth and to track them.”
While the laws in Ghana make room for public office holders to declare what assets they had prior to occupying public office, the investigative journalist, whose works have exposed several high level public sector corruption and equally served as bases for successful prosecution in the courts, believes that merely stating one’s asset does not do any good in the fight against corruption.
Mr. Manasseh Azure holds that knowing the source of those assets will enable corruption watchers and investigators to verify these sources.
Mr. Azure has also faulted the existing asset declaration regime which debars the relevant authorities from checking the authenticity of what assets have been declared, given that it is likely to give room to an anticipatory declaration of assets.
“There are some ministries they call lucrative ministries. People can list houses they intend to have as if they already have them with the hope of acquiring them later in office,” he said.
Ghana’s score in 2018 CPI
This conversation comes a day after Transparency International (TI) through its local Chapter, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), made public the scores of the 2018 Corruption Perception Index.
The 2018 CPI scores Ghana 41 out of a possible clean score of 100 and ranks the country 78 out of 180 countries/territories included in this year’s index.
Asset declaration regime
In Ghana, the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act 1998 (Act 550) is the governing legislation for Asset Declaration which Parliament enacted pursuant to the provisions of Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Article 286, which is dedicated to Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, provides in Clause (I) that “A person who holds a public office mentioned in clause (5) of this article shall submit to the Auditor-General a written declaration of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by, him whether directly or indirectly (a) within three months after the coming into force of this Constitution or before taking office, as the case may be; (b) at the end of every four years; and (c) at the end of his term of office.