Letter To National Security Minister

Letter To National Security Minister

6th February 2019

The Honourable Minister for National Security

Accra

Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah

Dear Sir:

DEPLOYMENT OF AN ARMED FORCE BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL.

During the 31st January 2019 parliamentary by-election held at the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region, your office deployed an armed force (not established by law) to ostensibly perform policing duties.

We have seen video footage of these men, attired and bearing arms, engaging in acts of violence that we have condemned in our Public Statement of 1st February 2019.

We have also seen that some of these men were being driven in vehicles bearing the name and insignia of the Ghana Police Service and were, in some instances, chauffeured or accompanied by persons who appeared to be regular police personnel.

Concerned about the legality or otherwise of that force, we have checked the Constitution (particularly articles 83 to 85, 200 and 210) and all statutes relevant to National Security and have found no law that backs the force that your office deployed.

Sir, Ghanaians have exercised our “natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government” for ourselves, which is required to secure for us and posterity the blessings of liberty among others. It is for this reason that our Constitution affirms that “all powers of Government spring from the Sovereign Will of the People,” in “whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in [the] Constitution.” Thus any act(s) and/or omission(s) that threaten these aspirations and legitimate expectations of Ghanaians ought to arouse the concern of all responsible and well-meaning Ghanaians.

Therefore, we write to demand that you kindly indicate to us:

  1. The legal bases upon which you assembled, maintained and deployed that force, of any;
  2. The circumstances under which the Ghana Police Service facilitated the acts of that force by supplying vehicles or other logistics for the operations of that day;
  3. The reason and necessity for maintaining the said force outside the legally and constitutionally recognised services established by law;
  4. The procedure for recruiting persons into the said force; and
  5. The financial provision made for maintaining this force.

We demand answers to these questions because the powers of government, as required by law, must be exercised, first, in the welfare of the people who were inexcusably violated by this force, and second, “in the manner and within the limits laid down in [the] Constitution.”

This letter is a formal request for information under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it constitutes statutory notice of our intention to take appropriate action against the Government should you fail to respond to and address the issues we have raised.

Thus if we do not hear from you we shall go to Court to seek reliefs including (but not limited to): (a) providing the information requested above, (b) declaring the said force illegal, (c) ordering that the force be disbanded, (d) ordering you to account for all of sums of money expended on maintaining this force, (e) and further ordering that all such sums be refunded to the State, the expenditure on the said force being contrary to law.

We are counting on your co-operation

OccupyGhana®

cc.

His Excellency the President

His Excellency the Vice-President

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Minister for Defence

Minister for the Interior

Minister for Finance

Chief of Defence Staff

Inspector General of Police

The Auditor-General

National Security Coordinator

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®

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

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

Notice of Court Action to Births and Deaths Registry

Notice of Court Action to Births and Deaths Registry

January 26, 2018

 

The Attorney-General & Minister for Justice

Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department

Accra

 

Dear Madam,

REFUSAL TO REGISTER NAMES AT THE BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGISTRY – NOTICE OF ACTION

Our attention has been drawn to the implementation of an alleged policy by the Registrars of the Birth and Death Registry that refuses to register the birth of children whose names include names such as “Maame,” “Pappa,” “Nana,” “Naa,” “Junior,” “Nene,” “Nii” and “Ohemaa” as well as determine the order in which names must be written, giving prominence to foreign names over indigeneous Ghanaian names. The Registrars claim that they are empowered to do this on the basis of the Registration of Birth and Death Act, 1965 (Act 301).

We have however checked that Act and all relevant laws including the Regulations passed under the Act. We have not seen any provision that either supports this policy or gives the Registrars of Births and Deaths any power to refuse to register any name. We believe that this stance is a gross violation of the rights of Ghanaians to choose names (particularly Ghanaian names) as they deem fit for their children, subject to the right to change one’s name at any time later in life.

We therefore write to put you on notice, in accordance with section 10 of the State Proceedings Act, 1998 (Act 555), that we intend to commence civil action against the Republic within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter if this illegality is not addressed forthwith.

We however believe that this cause of action will not be necessary if all Registrars of the Births and Deaths Registry will be directed to desist from these acts and stop refusing to register such names as they have no basis in law.

Yours faithfully,

OccupyGhana®

cc

The Honourable Minister

Ministry of Local Government

Accra.

 

The Registrar

Birth and Deaths Registry

Accra

OCCUPYGHANA® PETITIONS ATTORNEY-GENERAL OVER CHARGES LAID AGAINST 5 CHINESE GALAMSEY OPERATORS

OCCUPYGHANA® PETITIONS ATTORNEY-GENERAL OVER CHARGES LAID AGAINST 5 CHINESE GALAMSEY OPERATORS

16th May, 2017

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® PETITIONS ATTORNEY-GENERAL OVER CHARGES LAID AND FILED IN THE CASE OF REPUBLIC V. EN HUANG & 4 OTHERS (CASE NO. CR 344/2017)

OccupyGhana® has seen a copy of what purports to be the Charge Sheet in the case of Republic v. En Huang & 4 Others (Case No. CR 344/2017) and dated 8th May 2017, and a copy is attached for ease of reference.

We note that under the Statements of Offence, the accused persons are charged with the offences of (i) Illegal Employment of Foreign Nationals (in breach of section 24 of the Immigration Act and regulation 18 of the Immigration Regulations), and (ii) Disobedience of Directive Given (in breach of section 52 of the Immigration Act.)

However, under the Particulars of Offence, we are told that the First Accused Person had employed the other Accused Persons “to work illegally at a small-scale mining site,” and that all the accused persons, being holders of visitors’ visas had also disobeyed the condition that required them “not to engage in any employment in Ghana.”

We are deeply concerned that the immigration offences laid and filed against the Accused Persons do not match the severity of the act of employing or being employed “illegally at a small-scale mining site.” It is true that a person commits an offence if he/she “disobeys or disregards an obligation imposed or directive given by or under [the Immigration] Act.” But the punishment for this offence is a maximum fine of Twelve Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢12,000) and/or a maximum prison term of two (2) years, under section 52 of the Immigration Act. And, unless the law has been changed, regulation 18 of the Immigration Regulations provides that an individual who employs a foreigner in breach of section 24 of the Immigration Act attracts a penalty of only Five Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢500) payable to the Immigration Service. It is only upon failure to pay that measly penalty that the person may be taken to court, not for employing a foreigner illegally, but for failure to pay the measly 500 Cedi and upon conviction pay a fine of Four Thousand and Two Hundred Ghana (GH¢4,200) Cedis.

However, from our research, foreigners are absolutely prohibited from engaging in small-scale mining in Ghana. It is therefore an offence under section 99 of the Minerals and Mining Act for foreigners to engage in small scale-mining, and offenders attract a fine between GH¢360,000 and GH¢3.6M, and/or a maximum jail term of 20 years. Further, the equipment used in or associated with the offence and any product derived are to be seized, and are liable to forfeiture by a court order and then allocated to “the appropriate state institution” within 60 days by the Minister responsible for mining.

That is why we are concerned that if these Accused Persons employed others or were employed “to work illegally at a small-scale mining site,” then the immigration charges that have been laid and filed are really minor as compared to what the law provides for in the Minerals and Mining Act.

We therefore Petition your office to call for the docket on this matter, investigate the charges laid and filed, and if found necessary, for fresh, proper, weightier and more relevant charges to be filed or added.

The fight against illegal mining in Ghana is a fight to protect, not only the present, but the future of this country. It is therefore imperative that the law must be applied to all who fall foul of it, without fear or favour.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

Open Letter To Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa (HON. MP)

Open Letter To Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa (HON. MP)

The story is told of The Lord Christ heeding the plea of 10 lepers who asked him to “have pity on us.” He gave them a simple task: “go and show yourselves to the priest.” They were healed before they had made the full journey. One, only one of them, and a foreigner, returned to thank the Lord Christ. The Lord is said to have asked what happened to the other nine.

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