23rd December 2019
OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT
OCCUPYGHANA® – 2019 IN REVIEW
As the year draws to a close, we at OccupyGhana® reflect on what we have done this year, what is left to be done and where we want to go next year in the service of God and our dear country Ghana, as follows:
1. We started off the New Year by congratulating the Auditor-General on the first ever Special Audit Report on Disallowances and Surcharges. The news that he had saved the country the net total of GHS5,445,676,134.53 in disallowances and recovered GHS67,137,517.86 in surcharges was very good. We also urged the prosecution of all persons found culpable in the Auditor-General’s Reports. That is yet to happen, to the best of our knowledge.
2. Later that month, we sent a letter to the Minister of Finance in which we raised concerns about the new Fiscal Responsibility Act. We are yet to get an answer to any of the 14 questions we posed.
3. On 1st February, we issued a statement that condemned the violence during the bye-elections at Ayawaso West Wuogon. We also demanded a commission of inquiry be set up to investigate the events that occurred that day. In a subsequent letter a few days later, we also questioned the legality of the National Security Council deploying armed personnel during the violence that marred the elections, stating firmly that any armed force operating in Ghana without parliamentary approval was an unconstitutionality.
4. We were glad when the President announced a commission to investigate the violence during the elections a few days later. We note that the Commission’s Report was aligned with our position on the unconstitutionality of having an armed force operating without parliamentary approval. We demand that the government should either disband the NSC force or obtain parliamentary approval for it. We also urge Ghanaians to continue following the Commission’s Report to ensure that we end partisan and electoral violence once and for all.
5. On 31st March, after a rather horrific and fatal accident involving two passenger buses on the Tamale-Kitampo road a few days earlier, we asked for measures that would reduce the carnage on our roads in a statement that elucidated the possible steps that could be taken. We can only hope that the authorities are considering those suggestions seriously.
6. April saw us issuing a statement that disagreed with comments the Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo, made about the deportation of the Galamseyer and Chinese National, Aisha Huang. We were shocked at the justification given for that, especially when she was only properly charged with substantive offences after our intervention with and petition to the Attorney-General. We still disagree with the government on this. And as things turned out, the government now disagrees with its own action in this matter.
7. In May, we saluted the President and Parliament on the Right to Information bill.
8. On 13th June, we announced the inaugural OccupyGhana v. Attorney-General Anniversary Lectures. The event celebrated our work towards the Supreme Court decision that ensured that the Auditor-General now fully exercises disallowance and surcharge powers.
9. In July, we joined most Ghanaians to question Parliament over its plans to build a new 450-seat chamber in light of all the other problems the nation faced and also since it did not appear in the annual budget. Those plans were rightfully shelved.
10. Later on in the month, we questioned the circumstances surrounding the flouting of Afoko’s bail orders. We felt rightfully that those actions encroached on his civil rights.
11. On 23rd August, in response to revelations by the journalist Manasseh Awuni on the Public Procurement Authority, and the collapse of several financial institutions that seemed to have no end, we demanded that the government enforces the laws to bring order in the procurement and financial sectors.
12. We followed that with a statement a few weeks later that highlighted the importance of public officials appreciating the importance of avoiding Conflicts of Interest in the course of their work. We are still demanding the passage of a comprehensive legislation on the conduct of public office holders.
13. Also in September, after the President finally expressed regret about Aisha Huang not facing trial before her deportation, a position we had advocated, we strongly expressed, once again, our disappointment with the government over that turn of events. In our view, that deportation, its justification and then its condemnation, all by the same government, marks one of the lowest points this year.
14. A month later, we issued a statement condemning the heavy-handedness of the police against demonstrating law students in Accra. We hope that such acts of senseless brutality against Ghanaians will become a thing of the past.
15. We followed it later with a statement demanding assets and liabilities declaration by over 40,000 public officials, who have flouted the constitution by not declaring. We urged the government to assist the Auditor-General in developing a robust software for assets and liabilities declarations.
16. In mid-November, we demanded the government make good on the promise to set up an effective emergency response service in Ghana. To that effect, we asked for the release of the ambulances parked in front of the State House into use and also for the set up of command centers. We received a not-wholly satisfactory answer and will continue to demand more information and action on this.
17. On 1st December, in a letter to the Attorney-General, we stated our view on the unconstitutionality of the 6-month extension given to public officials for asset and liabilities declaration. We expect the government to effect the necessary amendment of the extension provision in the law to bring it in line with the Constitution, without us having to resort to a court action on the matter.
18. A few days ago, we reiterated the issue of the constitutional independence of the Auditor-General, and the need for the continued exercise of his disallowance and surcharge powers. We raised again the question on why no one was being prosecuted.
We cannot end this release without making two specific demands of government, and in respect of which we require answers before the end of the year:
(i) the Attorney-General must present a full update to Ghanaians on the status of the high profile corruption cases that are being investigated or prosecuted, including the status of recovery and enforcement in the Woyome and the Assibit/Abuga Pele cases; and
(ii) a full investigation into the alleged unauthorised development of a property at the Airport Residential Area that attracted the public ire and intervention of the Minister of Road and Highways, and the much publicised arrest of the developers.
As one can see, we have been busy. From the formation of this organisation, we have emphasised on a fight for hearts and minds, and we have stuck to that with a lot of successes chalked. We believe that our strength lies in the fact that our efforts are based on using, primarily, the law to enhance governance. We believe that the victories won this way are longer-lasting and more effective.
We will continue to stay vigilant and fight for good governance for our dear country. We cannot take on every fight. That’s not what we seek to do, and we do not even have the capacity to do that. Within our means and abilities, we occupy our space and have combined as a group into something formidable.
As we wish every Ghanaian a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, we urge each one to occupy his or her space and in so doing, help right the wrongs that plague our land and put this country on a true road to becoming greater and stronger.
For God and Country!
23rd December 2019