OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS RECENT ELECTORAL VIOLENCE AND DEMANDS INDEPENDENT INQUIRY

OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS RECENT ELECTORAL VIOLENCE AND DEMANDS INDEPENDENT INQUIRY

1st FEBRUARY, 2019

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS RECENT ELECTORAL VIOLENCE AND DEMANDS INDEPENDENT INQUIRY

OccupyGhana® has noted with grave concern, reports of violence, including shootings with live ammunition that occurred during the by-election that was held in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency in Accra.

We are disappointed that a by-election right in the capital of Ghana could degenerate into such acts of violence, some of which were captured in pictures and videos that are making the rounds in the traditional and social media.

We condemn all such acts and call for the perpetrators to be brought to book and punished in accordance with the law.

We note that the Ghana Police has stated in a Press Release dated 31st January 2019 that it will investigate the incidents of violence. While agreeing that the police may investigate the matters with a view to causing the prosecution of offenders, we would propose that an independent body conducts a full-scale inquiry into the matter. Some of the video footage that we have seen show that some of the masked men who are accused of the intimidation and violence, and certainly one of the persons who assaulted a Member of Parliament, were in vehicles that bore the name or insignia of the police. The police that stands accused, at the very least, of complicity in these matters, cannot investigate the overall issue of the violence that occurred.

We certainly are at pains to understand why security personnel being sent on election duties would have their faces covered as if they were on some special forces operations in a war zone. We find that unacceptable and a gross breach of modern day policing methods.

That is why we are calling upon the government to immediately constitute a proper commission of inquiry under Chapter 23 of the Constitution to inquire into these matters. No person or group of persons should be allowed to destroy our reputation, disrupt our peace and denigrate the pillars of civility we have worked so hard to achieve

Yours, for God & Country,

OccupyGhana®

29th January 2019

The Honourable Minister

Ministry of Finance

Accra

Dear Sir,

RE: CONCERNS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT GHANA’S FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT

OccupyGhana® is delighted that Ghana has passed a fiscal responsibility act. It’s a step in the right direction.

But we at OccupyGhana® are still grappling with the basic question: “will the Act actually control excessive government expenditure now and in the future?”

For instance, according to the law, “… the overall fiscal balance on cash basis for a particular year shall not exceed a deficit of five percent of the Gross Domestic Product for that year; and an annual positive primary balance shall be maintained.”

We note that:

Overall budget balance = (Primary balance) + (Government Interest Payments).

From this, the following questions and concerns arise:

  1. If the primary balance must be positive, why doesn’t the Act specify how big it must be (say as a proportion of GDP)?
  2. Is it not the case that without specifying the size, arguably, any small positive amount (even GHC 100) would satisfy the law?
  3. Wouldn’t a cynically pro-spending government have the incentive to choose a primary balance approximately equal to zero?
  4. Then given that the primary balance is approximately equal to zero, we get: Overall budget balance = interest payments. That would be legal, but wouldn’t that defeat the aims of the law?
  5. We note that the law caps the budget deficit-GDP ratio at a maximum of 5%. Doesn’t this imply that a government could always borrow to pay interest payments such that annual interest payments are equal to 5% of GDP?
  6. Would it then not be the case that Parliament cannot reject it because it is the law and also that with the primary balance at almost zero, only borrowing can finance interest payments?
  7. How does the law prevent a government from rolling over the debt perpetually by borrowing to service its debt?
  8. In each year, the government sells additional bonds (debt) to pay the interest on the debt and to pay off holders of maturing government debt. However, if the annual interest payments on the debt (before the law became effective) exceed 5% of GDP, would this not imply that the primary balance must have a sufficiently big and positive value?
  9. How do we ensure that a self-interested government cannot game this law?
  10. Section 3 states the circumstances under which the fiscal responsibility rules may be suspended. These include occurrences such as natural disaster, public health epidemic, drought, an unanticipated severe economic shock including commodity price shocks; and periods where the Gross Domestic Product growth rate is one per cent or less. Although this provision appears necessary for fiscal flexibility, aren’t there any chances that it could weaken the law?
  11. What if a minister of finance claims that because tax revenue fell unexpectedly, pushing the primary balance to be negative, the overall budget had to exceed 5% of GDP? Technically this might not be a violation of the law. In fact, the minister would have considerable discretionary power because the law provides that the “… unforeseen economic circumstances referred to … shall be such that as a result of the occurrence of the circumstances specified, the Minister is of the OPINION that the implementation of any of the fiscal responsibility rules would be unduly harmful to the fiscal, macroeconomic, or financial stability of the country.”
  12. Perverse fiscal incentives may not arise if the circumstances that warrant the suspension of the fiscal rules are outside the control of politicians. Commodity price shocks in global markets and natural disasters are examples of events that are outside the control of politicians. But a GDP growth rate of one per cent or less or a low tax revenue need not be events that are outside the control of politicians. They could be the result of mismanagement by politicians and bureaucrats. Why then does the law not define “severe” in “unanticipated severe economic shock”?
  13. If a shock is severe but anticipated or should have been anticipated, does this scenario fall under section 3?
  14. Further, doesn’t a positive primary balance imply that all non-interest expenditure must be financed from revenue, not borrowing?
  15. Is it consistent with this government or any government’s big plans (e.g., infrastructural plans)? For instance in September 2018, President Akufo-Addo said that his government may issue a 100-year $50 billion bond for infrastructural and industrial development.

We note that India enacted a Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) law in August 2003. However, the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis disrupted the fiscal consolidation process, leading to a progressive loosening of fiscal targets and eventually an amendment of the FRBM Act in 2012.

We ask these questions and raise these concerns because historically, although the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Act places a limit on advances from the BoG to government, this has been violated by nearly all governments. And, parliament has really never provided effective fiscal oversight of the executive.

Thus while this law is a step in the right direction, we must admit that no law is perfect and laws tend to have technical loopholes. It would appear to us that this law needs “a few good men and women” for it to work.

However, that is a quality that we cannot guarantee and that is why we wish to raise these questions and concerns, aimed at exploring ways in which the law could be further tightened to prevent future abuse.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® SALUTES AUDITOR-GENERAL ON DISALLOWANCES AND SURCHARGES AND URGES THE PROSECUTION OF PERSONS FOUND CULPABLE

OCCUPYGHANA® SALUTES AUDITOR-GENERAL ON DISALLOWANCES AND SURCHARGES AND URGES THE PROSECUTION OF PERSONS FOUND CULPABLE

3rd JANUARY, 2019

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® SALUTES AUDITOR-GENERAL ON DISALLOWANCES AND SURCHARGES AND URGES THE PROSECUTION OF PERSONS FOUND CULPABLE

OccupyGhana® has received and studied a copy of the first ever Special Audit Report of the Auditor-General on Disallowance and Surcharge. This is the report as at 30th November 2018, that mentions how much has been saved to the nation in Disallowances, how much has been surcharged, and how much has been recovered. We salute the Audit Service, led by the current Auditor-General for this. We are however concerned that there appears to be little effort at prosecuting those who have committed these infractions, and call upon the Attorney-General to commence prosecutions in this regard.

The heart of every Ghanaian would be gladdened at the saving of the net total of GHS 5,445,676,134.53, which some government officials fraudulently claimed was owed on various government contracts, but which had been already paid. This attempt to fleece Ghana of this colossal sum was only stopped by the Auditor-General issuing Disallowances. Further, the recovery of GHS 67,137,517.86 as a result of the Auditor-General’s Surcharges and recovery efforts must be lauded by all Ghanaians. Meanwhile, there are Surcharges of almost half a billion Cedis outstanding, waiting for enforcement.

For us at OccupyGhana®, this Report and the developments it contains are a major manifestation of the victory Ghana won in OCCUPYGHANA V. ATTORNEY-GENERAL, where the Supreme Court stated emphatically that:

“…the Auditor-General is expected to NAME the persons who commit irregularities etc., under article 187(7)(b) and section 17 of Act 584 respectively, RECOVER the amounts from them and thereafter those persons be made to FACE appropriate punishment. THAT SHOULD BE THE WAY FORWARD” [Emphases added.]

For us, this Report is also the culmination of the journey that started on 12th November 2014 when we first wrote to the Auditor-General then, demanding the exercise of the Disallowance and Surcharge powers given to that office by the Constitution. We cannot forget the quick 13th November 2014 response of the Acting Auditor-General then, first reminding us of the independence of the office and then offering to educate us “on the validity or otherwise of matters raised in your letter concerning disallowances and surcharges.”

We vividly remember our 25th November 2014 response in which we pointed out to the then Auditor-General that his independence did “not preclude the power of the court from inquiring into whether or not you have performed your functions according to the Constitution.” We reminded him that the Constitution “places a mandatory duty on administrative bodies and officials like you to comply with the legal requirements imposed on you, and then vests in persons dissatisfied with your work, such as us, a right to seek redress by commencing court proceedings against you.” We concluded that “simply, either you have done your work or you have not done your work.”

What followed this initial fiery exchange of letters, was a year and a half during which the then Auditor-General pretended to collaborate with us to institute the Disallowance and Surcharge regime, but failed to take any concrete steps. He even formed a Joint Working Group with us, which was never duly constituted and never worked. It was not as if we were just spoiling for a fight. That is why in this period, we were honoured with the opportunity to draft and submit to the Rules of Court Committee the rules that were finally passed into law as the HIGH COURT (CIVIL PROCEDURE) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) RULES, 2016 (CI 102). This law inserted a new Order 54A in the High Court Rules to regulate Disallowances and Surcharge appeals, in compliance with article 187(9) and (10) of the Constitution. It was therefore with great reluctance that on 21st June 2016, we filed the action titled OCCUPYGHANA V. ATTORNEY-GENERAL (WRIT NO. J1/19/2016) in the Supreme Court.

In its seminal judgment dated 14th June 2017, the Supreme Court rejected each defence that was put up, including challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the matter. The Court granted each of the reliefs that we sought, pointing out that

“…the ‘may’ in article 187(7)(b) of the Constitution, 1992, becomes a mandatory ‘may,’ and no longer permissive. This affords us the opportunity to enforce the provisions of article 187(7)(b) which will deepen probity and accountability.”

For us that was not a personal victory or even a vindication. It was a colossal victory for Ghanaians who would read, on a yearly basis, a merely journalistic recount by the then Auditors-General to Parliament of blatant stealing of national wealth, accompanied by obviously impotent recommendations, and which saw no tangible or concrete results. What was even more painful were these words that featured prominently and repeatedly in each of the Auditors-General’s annual report:

“The cataloguing of financial irregularities in my Report on MDAs and Other Agencies has become AN ANNUAL RITUAL THAT SEEMS TO HAVE NO EFFECT…” [Emphasis added.]

We applaud the bold steps taken and results obtained by the current Audit Service under the leadership of the current Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo. We urge them not to relent in enforcing the judgment of the Supreme Court, prevent, where possible, the theft of the nation’s monies, and recover for Ghana whatever is stolen.

We conclude by urging the Attorney-General to commence the prosecution of the persons who either caused, attempted to or conspired to cause these losses to Ghana. The Supreme Court was clear that there must be “appropriate punishment” and stated thus:

“…the Attorney-General is hereby ordered to take all necessary steps to enforce the decision or steps taken by the Auditor-General… to ensure compliance including in some cases criminal prosecutions.”

The Auditor-General appears to have done his part. The ball is now firmly in the court of the Attorney-General.

Yours, for God & Country,

OccupyGhana®

#RTIRedFriday DECLARED FOR 30 NOVEMBER! OCCUPYGHANA®, MEDIA AND RTI COALITIONS ANNOUNCE JOINT ACTION ON RIGHT TO INFORMATION

#RTIRedFriday DECLARED FOR 30 NOVEMBER! OCCUPYGHANA®, MEDIA AND RTI COALITIONS ANNOUNCE JOINT ACTION ON RIGHT TO INFORMATION

27th November, 2018

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

#RTIRedFriday DECLARED FOR 30 NOVEMBER! OCCUPYGHANA®, MEDIA AND RTI COALITIONS ANNOUNCE JOINT ACTION ON RIGHT TO INFORMATION

OccupyGhana® announces that it has joined hands with likeminded Media and Civil Society Organisations to declare Friday, November 30, 2018 and every other Friday before Christmas as #RTIRedFriday against the demonstrable lack of commitment and delay by Parliament in passing the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law.

We note that even though the Bill is in Parliament, there appears to be a deliberate ploy by some parliamentarians to engineer delays. That is why on consecutive occasions, Parliament could not form a quorum to discuss the Bill which is at the Consideration Stage.

As noted by OccupyGhana® a year ago, the inexcusably long delay of over 19 years by successive Governments under the Fourth Republican Constitution to pass this law suggests that Governments are simply afraid to pass a law that will help actualize a right that the Constitution has already given to Ghanaians. Unless and until the law is passed, Ghanaians are entitled to conclude that Governments will seek any and every excuse to defer the passage of this law for as long as possible.

We, and indeed many Ghanaians cannot help but notice the sense of urgency with which Government and Parliament rush to pass bills that they consider important. On such occasions, Parliament has been recalled from recess or stayed in late to work on certain bills. OccupyGhana® is particularly disappointed in this delay considering the much-touted credentials of this Government and the President as regards to the rule of law and good governance.

We remind Government that the courts have held that the right to information does not require an Act of Parliament to be exercised. Yet there remain substantive and procedural impediments to the exercise of this right. The current ‘default’ position of Government departments is to either refuse or simply not answer any request for information. This forces citizens to go to court every time they seek to exercise that right. This is unacceptable and has to be addressed to ensure a straightforward and low cost system for the public to be able to enforce requests for information.

This Government and this Parliament is at serious risk of showing the people of Ghana that they are no different from their predecessors over nearly two decades when it comes to giving the people of this country their right to information. OccupyGhana® is therefore calling on the President to rally his Government to pass this law without further delay.

OccupyGhana® further expects that the Bill, when passed into law, will set out clear parameters and instances where the government will exercise public interest privilege (this is the privilege that allows government to refuse the disclosure of a document or information which is against the public interest.) The current wide-bound interpretation of the government on this privilege is, in our view, the greatest substantive and procedural hurdle to the full realisation of the right to information. Any law that does not deal with this matter in a manner that eases the right to information would be worthless and not have been worth the wait. The law should ensure that any doubts as to whether there is such a privilege be resolved in favour or granting, rather than withholding, such information.

OccupyGhana® is calling on the public to exert even more pressure on government and parliament to pass this law by participating in the activities lined up as part of the #RTIRedFriday. We must not accept the status quo and the excuses coming from Parliament on this nearly 20-year delay.

Yours, for God & Country,

OccupyGhana®

RE: ALLOWANCES FOR BOARDS AND COUNCILS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE

14th November 2018

The Honourable Minister
Ministry of Finance
Accra

Dear Sir,

RE: ALLOWANCES FOR BOARDS AND COUNCILS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE

OccupyGhana® has noted with delight and approval Government’s directive to the Public Service through you, on the above-entitled matter, and dated 2nd November 2018, to streamline the basis for paying sitting allowances to members of state Boards, Authorities, Council, etc., and to ban the payment of monthly salaries/allowances to such persons. This ties in very much with our Press Statement dated 20th May 2018 that expressed deep concerns about such matters, and in which we called for the specific ban of such payments, among others.

While we applaud this all-important step towards reining in unjustified payment of monies, we respectfully want to bring to your attention certain wrong practices engaged in by members of such Boards for several years and which, if not checked alongside your directive, would completely erode its essence and violate its spirit.

First, with the primary aim of accumulating sitting allowances, certain Boards and Board Committees are known to meet several times in a month, even when the meetings are repetitive and meaningless. We are aware of Board and Board Committee meetings that are called without agenda, ostensibly just to review minutes of a previous meeting. Heads of such institutions and Board chairs have to be held responsible for unnecessary meetings and surcharged with any sitting allowances so paid.

Second, some Board and Board Committee members have essentially become parallel structures to those existing in the entities, and insist on undertaking work that would ordinarily be undertaken by employees of the entities. Some insist on, for instance, touring facilities or educating the public around Ghana. Even worse are the scandalous and ridiculous travel budgets presented for approval. It leaves very little to the imagination the real reason behind such ventures.

Third, you would have to take the additional step of cutting out expenses associated with the unfounded belief on the part of Board Members and members of Board Committees that they are entitled to training and conferences, especially abroad, at the expense of the tax payer. We believe that it is a person’s already existing experience and knowledge that gets that person to serve on a Board or Board Committee. That knowledge and experience are not to be acquired after appointment and at the expense of the tax payer. Thus, paying for the cost of training, costs of airfares, hotel expenses and per diem should be a thing of the past. Boards and Board Committees do not need members who are there to line their pockets with undeserved allowances, enjoy paid travel and enhance their personal curriculum vitae.

We reiterate a point we made in our Press Statement dated 20th May 2018 that no board member is entitled to monthly remuneration, an office, official accommodation, official vehicle, etc. To the extent that any such facilities have been, or are being, provided, they are unlawful.

These are only some of the things that have to be checked as part of your directive, if it is not to be defeated on the ground.

Yours, for God and Country,

 

OccupyGhana®

 

CC.

 

The Chief of Staff

Office of the President

Accra

 

The Chief Executive

State Enterprises Commission

Accra

OCCUPYGHANA® RESPONDS TO K. T. HAMMOND ON THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION BILL AND CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC PRESSURE FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL INTO LAW

OCCUPYGHANA® RESPONDS TO K. T. HAMMOND ON THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION BILL AND CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC PRESSURE FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL INTO LAW

13th November, 2018

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® RESPONDS TO K. T. HAMMOND ON THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION BILL AND CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC PRESSURE FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL INTO LAW

Our attention has been drawn to a news item published by myjoyonline.com on 1st November 2018 in which Mr. K. T. Hammond, Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, is reported to have expressed opposition to the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law because “there will be no secret in government.” Mr. Hammond is reported to have uttered the following words:

“You need peace of mind to run a government. You need to concentrate and if you have a bill and before the ink dries on it, somebody is asking you to ‘bring this document’… to the extent that we are talking about communication between the president, the vice president and cabinet, potentially there will be no secret in government…

‘Free society’ and all that is a journalist’s jargon and until they sit on the seat of an administrator, they will not know what it feels like to be pestered for information…

Gold nuggets are in there for journalists. One single slip, ministers cannot operate, government cannot proceed effectively, governance cannot take place meaningfully with this sort of albatross hanging over our heads.”

By these words we understand Mr. Hammond to be saying that attempts to exercise the right to information that is guaranteed under Article 21(1)(f) of our Constitution constitutes some disturbance or irritation to the government. Mr. Hammond thinks that the concept of a “free society” that the Constitution guarantees is merely “a journalistic jargon.” He considers requests for information as a shackle or impediment to running a government effectively.

We have also noted that on 7th November 2018, Parliament was forced to suspend the consideration of the Bill for a second time due to alleged lack of a quorum. Again, it was the same Mr. Hammond (this time with Mr. Samuel George, MP for Prampram in support) who was too pleased to take advantage of this and thereby stultify this Bill making progress in parliament.

Mr. Hammond’s fears are not just false and unfounded, they are antiquated and out of sync with modern day democratic tenets. Mr.  Hammond does not appear to us to fully appreciate what the Constitution provides and the role of statute in shaping the constitutional right to information.

We respectfully draw Mr. Hammond’s attention to the State Secrets Act, 1962 (Act 101), which protects from all duly classified state secrets from disclosure. There is also the public interest privilege that is recognised under the Constitution as an exception to the right to information. The Constitution contains details provisions on how this privilege is claimed and challenged, if need be. Thus passing the RTI Bill into law will not affect the fact that the state will have secrets or that some information should not be disclosed because its disclosure would not be in the interest of the state. An RTI Act can and will exist side by side with the State Secrets Act and constitutional provisions, and complement each other, so that all public information that do not constitute state secrets or qualify for the exercise of the public interest privilege, should be made available to Ghanaians either by the government itself or upon request.

Mr. Hammond has to be aware that the courts of Ghana have upheld the right to information even without the statute being in place. All that the draft Bill seeks to do is to set down the mechanics and processes for interested persons to obtain information without having to go to court in each instance. The current ‘default’ position where almost all public information is treated as a state secret or as falling under public interest privilege unless the person seeking the information goes to court, is backward, unacceptable, unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Our Article 21(1)(f) on the right of citizens to information is arguably one of the most progressive in the world. Thus while the United States Supreme Court has held in the US, there no constitutional right of access to government information or sources of information within the government’s control, our constitutional provision on the right to information and its interpretation and enforcement by our Supreme Court are more forward-looking and more liberal. That is why our Supreme Court has affirmed “the right of all persons to information, as expressed in Article 21(1)(f) of the Constitution,” adding that the “right to information implies a right to access public document.” The same Court has described attempts to withhold information from citizens as “reprehensible” and “a wilful violation of the Constitution.”

OccupyGhana® is calling on the public to exert even more pressure on government and parliament to pass this law. We must not accept the status quo and the excuses coming from parliament on this nearly 20 year delay.

Yours in the service of occupying minds for God and Country

OccupyGhana®

OccupyGhana® Presents Immediate Solutions For Reducing The Carnage On Tetteh Quarshie-Adenta Highway (N4)

OccupyGhana® Presents Immediate Solutions For Reducing The Carnage On Tetteh Quarshie-Adenta Highway (N4)

9th November, 2018

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESENTS IMMEDIATE SOLUTIONS FOR REDUCING THE CARNAGE ON TETTEH QUARSHIE-ADENTA HIGHWAY (N4)

OccupyGhana® is alarmed at the spate of pedestrian deaths on the Tetteh Quarshie-Adenta Highway (N4) in Accra due primarily to the unavailability of safe crossing facilities on the road. The latest accident in which a first-year female student of West Africa Senior High School (WASS) was reported to have been killed becomes the 194th reported death on the Madina-Adentan Highway this year.

OccupyGhana® joins the nation in grieving with the bereaved families of the deceased.

The incident, which caused angry residents to set ablaze car tyres to register their protest to the government, is deeply regrettable and would have been avoidable had government been proactive in arresting the situation sooner.

OccupyGhana® is surprised that after 11 years of the construction of the highway, none of the footbridges have been completed. This has made it unsafe for pedestrians to cross the multiple-lane highway. It is expected that footbridges, which form the integral safety of pedestrians, must be constructed before the commissioning of any highway.

OccupyGhana® is disappointed in the slow reaction of the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Roads and Highways, and the Ghana Highways Authority to handling this issue, thus causing the reported loss of 194 lives. These authorities have failed to take the required safety measures to save the lives of innocent Ghanaians who must cross the roads in the conduct of their everyday business.

Although we acknowledge government’s statement in dealing with the situation, and find it unforgivingly belated, we assure the government that we will hold them to it.

In addition to the measures proposed by government, OccupyGhana® calls for the following immediate measures to be implemented in curbing the carnage on the Tetteh Quarshie-Adenta Highway (N4):

1. Specific speed limits should be imposed and enforced on that stretch of road;

2. Rumble strips should be constructed on the long stretch of road beginning from the University of Ghana to the Pantang end of the highway to reduce the unnecessary speeding of drivers;

3. Government should replace all faulty traffic lights with modern, solar-powered lights and provide extra traffic lights with toucan crossing system to allow free flow of traffic;

4. Public education must be extended to the public on safe crossing of the highways, by the National Road Safety Commission;

5. Officials of the MTTD of the Ghana Police must be on duty at all times to control the traffic situation till all works are completed on the repair and installation of the traffic lights and rumble streets;

6. Government must provide adequate road signs and markings along this stretch, fix reflectors on the kerbs and designate and mark crosswalks where pedestrians have priority over vehicular traffic;

7. Government should fix all streetlights along the corridor and ensure they are properly maintained; and

8. Enforce our traffic laws!

OccupyGhana® is concerned about road safety measures on other highways, most especially the N1 highway that is claiming a lot of lives. Government should apply these same measures on the N1 highway.

Yours in the service of occupying minds for God and Country

OccupyGhana®

Letter to Government In Relation to KNUST happenings

29th October 2018

The Minister of Education
Ministry of Education
Accra

The Executive Secretary
National Council for Tertiary Education
Accra

Gentlemen:

RE: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS CONCERNING KNUST

OccupyGhana® has been closely observing the recent developments at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (“KNUST”), and the issues arising from them. We have also just seen what purports to be a letter from the National Council for Tertiary Education (“NCTE”) that seeks to recognise a so-called “Interim Council” and further “direct” the Vice-Chancellor (“VC”) to step aside.

We register our strong opposition to any attempts to (i) replace the duly-constituted Council of KNUST with any other body in a manner that does not conform with the laws of the country, and then (ii) force the Vice-Chancellor to resign or step aside. It is our view that these acts by your two bodies, constitute an infringement of and affront to the law and the right to academic freedom recognized and protected under article 21 of the Constitution, and which is generally recognised to protect both university teachers and university administrators.

Our objections have three grounds.

First, it was the case that under the original formulation of the KNUST Act, 1961 (Act 80) and the amendments in PNDCL 240, the Government was the appointing authority of the KNUST Council, with the President as the Chancellor. However, as a result of the coming into force of article 68(1)(b) of the Constitution, and Parliament accepting and passing into law, the comprehensive review and consolidation of Ghana law by the Statute Law Revision Commissioner (the “Crabbe Reforms”) changes occurred in the KNUST Act, among several others.

Key among these changes, based on the Constitution and also meant to enhance the right to academic freedom, was that the President was no longer the Chancellor of that university or any other university in Ghana. As a result of this, now, the government appoints Chancellors but only where the relevant statute specifically vests this power in the President. It might also appoint Councils of universities where the relevant statute so provides. This does not include KNUST, the University of Cape Coast, the University of Development Studies and the University of Mines and Technology. And in the specific case of KNUST, the President appoints the Chancellor with the advice of the Council, and it is the Chancellor, not the Government, who appoints the chair of the Council. The Council is also made up of persons is directly “appointed or elected” by specifically named institutions and bodies as their “representatives.” And, it is the Council that appoints the VC, and may remove that person in the exercise of its implied power under article 297 of the Constitution. Neither the government nor any of its agencies including the NCTE may usurp any of those powers vested by law in those other persons.

The Crabbe Reforms have been upheld several times by our courts and most authoritatively by the Supreme Court in Kpebu v. Attorney-General (No. 3). In that case, although the Court expressed regret that Parliament’s deliberations leading to the adoption of those Crabbe Reforms were “hasty, superficial and lacked any commitment,” the Court stated that even if there had been mistakes it was Parliament’s duty to make the required changes, and not the Court’s. The Court was emphatic that “the Seven Volumes of the Laws of Ghana (Revised Edition) constitute the current state of the law contained therein.”

It does not appear that Parliament has accepted that the Crabbe Reforms contain any “mistakes.”  Further, Parliament has not taken any steps to revise the Crabbe Reforms to correct any perceived “mistakes.” Until that happens, the law is what is contained in the Laws of Ghana (Revised Edition.) The Government is bound by them, and certainly the Executive is not allowed to turn itself into a legislative authority to make up the law as it pleases, or to hunt and peck and pick and choose which provisions it would respect and which provisions it would disrespect.

Second, even if the Government is still the appointing authority of the KNUST Council and therefore may dissolve it (which position would fly in the face of the express amendment to the KNUST Act), the Government cannot purport to reconstitute the Council without affording the named institutions or bodies in the Act, the opportunity to “appoint or elect” their respective representatives to serve on any reconstituted Council. It appears to us to be an affront to democracy and the rule of law, that when the law gives to other institutions or bodies the right to “appoint or elect” persons to serve on the Council, the Government can arrogate to itself the right to do that on their behalf and select persons that the Government chooses, as representatives of the institutions or bodies. Thus the current “Interim Council” is an illegality that must not be countenanced or allowed to exist or operate. The purported ‘elevation’ of the Pro-VC to the Council, in a thinly-disguised attempt to remove the VC from his ex-officio seat on the Council, is also illegal.

Third, the “directive” by the NTCE for the VC to “temporarily handover the day to day running of the University to the pro-Vice Chancellor,” allegedly to allow the illegal Interim Council to operate is yet another illegal act in a stream of illegal acts by both the government and its agencies. The NCTE has no such power. This ultra vires and legally flawed directive has no basis in the NCTE Act, 1993 (Act 454), under which the NCTE is merely an advisory body to the Minister and tertiary institutions, and may also make recommendations and publish information on tertiary education. Surely this wrongly assumed power to issue such a directive cannot even fall under the omnibus clause that the NCTE may perform other functions “that are incidental” to its stated statutory functions.

Accordingly, the said directive by the NCTE should be withdrawn or be ignored and treated with the contempt it deserves.

We respectfully urge both the Ministry and the NCTE to respect the law and the right of academic freedom, and stop interfering in the administration of KNUST. The Government’s role, if any, would and should be to maintain law and order on the campus and to facilitate discussions leading to an amicable resolution of the problems on the campus, and not to jump into the arena of conflict, become a party to it and thereby compound the problems. The Government should allow the law to work and for the duly constituted bodies to decide on what happens on the campus. That is the law and we fully expect of the Government and its agencies that if they are unhappy with the law, they may appeal to Parliament to revise it. Until then the government must obey the rule of law, however unpalatable that may be to it.

We urge the two of you to forthwith retract all steps taken in furtherance of these clearly illegal pursuits. You do not have to compound the already volatile situation by inviting court actions and their attendant injunctions that will only adversely affect the students.

We also urge the persons named to serve on the purported “Interim Council” to do right by themselves, their conscience and the law. Just as History names and eulogises “the wise and brave and strong, who graced their generation, who helped the right, and fought the wrong, and made our folk a nation,” it also does not forget to mention, at least in inglorious footnotes, those who lent their names to support clear acts of illegality.

Yours in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana®

cc.
The Chief of Staff
Office of the President
Accra

The Attorney-General & Minister of Justice
Accra

The Press

REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE DISPOSAL OF GOVERNMENT VEHICLES

July 17, 2018

His Excellency the President
Office of the President
Jubilee House
Accra

Dear Sir,

REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE DISPOSAL OF GOVERNMENT VEHICLES

Upon your assumption of office as President, a lot of issues came up with regards to the sale of government assets, especially vehicles allocated at the seat of government. Based on these, OccupyGhana® decided to take the issue up and ascertain how these vehicles were disposed of, and whether they were done in accordance with laid down procurement laws.

We therefore wrote to the Chief of Staff and the Administrator-General on 28th March, 2017 with ref no. OG/2017/001. Our letter demanded answers to the following, under our constitutional right of information under Article 21(f):

1. Were any government assets, particularly vehicles, disposed of between the 7th December 2016 election and the handover to the new government?
2. If so, is there a list of those assets, showing the persons to whom the assets were sold and for how much?
3. Was a Board of Survey convened with respect to those assets, and if so, who were the members?
4. Was a Technical Report on the assets to be disposed of prepared for the Board of Survey, and if so, may we have a copy?
5. Did the Board of Survey prepare and submit a report on the assets and the best method of disposing of them, and if so may we have a copy?
6. Did your office complete a Board of Survey form, and if so may we have a copy?
7. Were the Board of Survey’s recommendations approved by your office, and if so may we have a copy of the written approval?
8. Were any of the assets deemed unserviceable for reasons other than fair wear and tear, such as through accident or expiry, and if so was a procedure established by the Board of Survey for handling losses, and was that followed before the assets were disposed of?
9. Were any assets classified as “obsolete and surplus”, and if so were they;
a. transferred to other government departments or public entities, with or without financial adjustment, or
b. sold by public tender to the highest tenderer or public auction subject to a reserve price; and if so, may we have evidence of those disposal processes?

When we did not receive a response from either office, we sent reminders on January 30, 2018, with ref. No. OG/2018/004.

This time we received a response from the Administrator-General on 7th February 2018 with reference number SCR/OAG/LSP/008/V.1/P.42 providing us with a schedule of vehicles sold, who they were sold to and how much they were sold for. He however stated that he could not provide information on whether the mandatory procedure for the Disposal of Stores, Vehicles, Plant and Equipment under Part 8 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) was followed, and asked us to seek answers to this from the Office of the Chief of Staff. We have not heard from that office.

We are concerned because with almost every political transition, vehicles belonging to the government have been sold rather cheaply to political office holders, without regard to the procedure laid down by law for the disposal of government assets. Prior to 2016, the claim was that “vehicles” were not specifically covered under the mandatory procedure under sections 83 and 84 of Act 663.

It was to address this apparent lacuna in the law that section 83 of the Act was specifically amended, and section 83A specifically introduced, by sections 44 and 45 respectively of the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914), so that the mandatory disposal procedure would without doubt apply to vehicles.

We would find it unbelievable that within months of this amendment, government vehicles would still be disposed of without regard to the law. We do not believe that persons working for the government would dispose of, and others would acquire, vehicles under circumstances that would make them liable to prosecution under section 92(1) of Act 663.

While expressing our disappointment that we have not received the information we require on whether the procedures were followed, we have cause to suspect that the non-responsiveness is because the procedures were breached.

To ascertain this, we respectfully request that a full scale investigation be launched into how these vehicles were disposed of, with explanations on whether our Procurement laws were followed, and that these findings should be made public.

Yours in the service of God and Country

Kwaku D. Segbefia,
For: OccupyGhana®

Cc:

1. Office of the Vice-President
Jubilee House
Accra

2. The Speaker
Parliament of Ghana
Accra

3. The Administrator-General
The Castle, Osu
Accra

4. The Special Prosecutor
Office of the Special Prosecutor
Accra

REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATIONS INTO REPORTED PETROLEUM PRODUCT SMUGGLING, RE-EXPORT AND PREMIX DUMPING, UNLAWFUL PROFITEERING, TAX EVASION AND FINANCIAL REPORTING INCONSISTENCY AT BOST.

July 13, 2018

The Chief of Staff,
Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana
Jubilee House,
Accra.

Dear Madam,

REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATIONS INTO REPORTED PETROLEUM PRODUCT SMUGGLING, RE-EXPORT AND PREMIX DUMPING, UNLAWFUL PROFITEERING, TAX EVASION AND FINANCIAL REPORTING INCONSISTENCY AT BOST.

OccupyGhana®️ has received and studied the 2017 industry report of the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD). The report, which we believe has been submitted to the Offices of the President and Vice-President as well as Parliament alleges over a dozen infractions and breaches of the law by, and indicts unnamed officials of National Security, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Office of the President.

We note with concern the alleged revenue losses amounting to GHS 1.4 billion in the loss of over 800-thousand metric tonnes of subsidized fuel. If true, this is completely unacceptable. Also worrying is the allegation that about GHS 5.2 million was lost to the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) from diversions of 230 illegitimately subsidized premix trucks.

The CBOD alleges losses due to increased smuggling activities along our coasts, under-invoicing, illegal tax and regulatory margins, ESLA under-reporting, Special Petroleum Tax (SPT) transfer pricing, deliberate inefficiencies and illegalities at BOST, unlawful profiteering, tax evasion and export dumping. But what we find even more troubling is the claim that these are happening with the connivance and complicity of officials in the Office of the President, in National Security, and in GRA.

In the interest of the principles of probity, accountability and transparency, we write to request that full scale criminal and highly forensic investigations are conducted into the alleged findings in the CBOD Report. If any persons are found to have engaged in these acts we would urge the prosecution of all criminally culpable elements within the petroleum value chain to the full extent permissible by law, no matter who these culpable elements may be.

Yours faithfully,

D. Kwaku Segbefia,
For: OccupyGhana®️

Cc:
1. Office of the Vice-President
Jubilee House
Accra

2. The Speaker
Parliament of Ghana
Accra

3. The Minister
Ministry of Energy
Accra

4. The Chief Executive Officer
National Petroleum Authority
Accra