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CSOs drag gov’t to court over Domelevo’s leave directive

Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo

Some Civil Society groups in Ghana have sued the government over President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s directive asking the Auditor General to proceed on leave.

Daniel Domelevo has been on mandatory leave since July 1, 2020, following the president’s order.

“The undersigned Civil Society Organisations (‘CSOs’), represented by our lawyers, have, today, Monday, October 26, 2020, filed a writ at the Supreme Court, challenging the June 29, 2020 directive of the President that has sent the Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel Domelevo, on involuntary leave since Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

“The President has appointed Mr. Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, an officer of the Audit Service, to act as Auditor-General during the 167 working days that the Auditor-General is supposed to be away on forced leave,” the group said in a statement.

The group which had earlier petitioned the president to rescind his decision had their plea rejected by the presidency.

The CSOs insist the president’s leave directive to Mr. Domelevo was illegal and did not auger well for the fight against corruption.

In response to the CSOs petition, the presidency said “The president encourages people to be citizens and not spectators, and therefore, your petition is welcome, and its contents have been duly noted.

“However, the position of the president as contained in the letter dated July 3, 2020, from this office to the Auditor General remains the same.”

The letter which was signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Asante Bediatuo noted that “The arguments made in your petition were considered prior to the President taking the decision to request Mr. Daniel Domelevo to take his accumulated leave. Please accept the President’s best wishes”.

Nana Asante Bediatuo

But the group of CSOs said they had no option than to resort to legal action to “defend the Constitution and the independence of the Auditor-General”.

“We had hoped that the President would reconsider his decision in light of the deleterious effect of his action on public accountability and the fight against waste and corruption in the management of public finances. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Instead, certain developments since the Auditor-General was forced to leave his office have only gone to worsen the situation, leaving us with no option but to seek the intervention of the courts.”

The list of CSOs involved in the court action includes the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Citizen Ghana Movement, and the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP).

The rest are Parliamentary Network Africa, Penplusbytes, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), SEND Ghana, and One Ghana Movement.

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Meanwhile, a US-based Ghanaian law lecturer, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare, has sued the Attorney General over the same matter.

Reliefs

Prof Kwaku Asare wants the Supreme Court to declare that except for stated grounds in Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution, the Auditor-General’s tenure cannot be disturbed by Presidential directives, whether couched as accumulated leave, involuntary leave, suspension, interdiction, temporary removal, disciplinary control, or however styled, and he may remain in office until he attains the compulsory retirement age of 60.

Prof Kwaku Asare
Prof Kwaku Asare

He also wants the court to declare that the president’s directive to the Auditor-General to hand over all matters relating to his office to Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu is inconsistent with or is in contravention with the letter and spirit of Articles 187(1) and 187(7)(a) of the Constitution, 1992.

A declaration that the President’s appointment of Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu to act as the Auditor-General is inconsistent with or is in contravention of the letter and spirit of Articles 187(1), 187(7)(a).

An order directing the President, his agents, assigns, privies, servants, and whomsoever of whatever description to cease and desist from issuing directives to the Auditor-General.

An order directing the President, his agents, assigns, privies, servants, and whomsoever of whatever description to cease and desist from exercising disciplinary control over the Auditor-General.

An order directing the President, his agents, assigns, privies, servants, and whomsoever of whatever description to cease and desist from assessing the work, including the financial administration, of the Auditor-General.

An order directing the Auditor-General to resume performing his constitutional functions.

An order directing Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu to cease and desist from performing the role of an Acting Auditor-General.

An order invalidating any decisions taken by Mr Akuamoah Asiedu subject to ratification by the Auditor-General.

An order of interlocutory injunction to restrain Mr. Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu from performing the functions of Acting Auditor-General, pending the final determination of the substantive suit.

An expedited hearing of the motion for injunction and the substantive cause given the important financial watchdog role played by the Auditor-General and the irreparable harm that any delay will cause to the financial systems and the integrity of the Constitution.

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