Domelevo is like any public officer under Akufo-Addo’s control – Dep. Attorney General
The Deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, has said that President Akufo-Addo did not violate any law by asking the Auditor-General to proceed on leave.
He argued that Mr Akufo-Addo did not interfere with the day-to-day functions of the Auditor-General by determining entities to be audited or not.
Hence the independence of the Auditor-General was not violated by asking him to take an accumulated leave of 167 days.
Mr Akufo-Addo directed Mr Domelevo to take a break after it emerged that he had taken only nine days as leave since his appointment in 2016.
Mr Domelevo has announced that although he is taking his 2020 annual leave, the president’s directive to a man tasked with investigating government expenses, is questionable.
“I consider it an honour to be of service to the State and urge that you reconsider the directive in order to protect the sanctity of the labour law, the Constitution and the independence of the Auditor-General which is of utmost importance in so far as ensuring that the constitutional principles of probity, transparency and accountability are concerned,” Dr. Domelevo stated.
But the deputy Attorney-General, Mr Dame, has explained, “all regular public service officeholders” were under the leadership of the President.
Hence the President “can direct because he is the appointing authority”.
“The impression that is being carried that the Auditor-General is different from all classes of public service holders and that he occupies a position whose independence is even higher than Parliament cannot be correct at all”.
Speaking in an interview on Joy FM, he said, “it is the functional independence of the Auditor-General that the Constitution anticipates and the functional independence is in regards to how the Auditor-General conducts the process of auditing”.
In that regard, no one can dictate to the Auditor-General whom he should audit or who not to but “when it comes to the nature of his office, he is a regular public service holder who retires at the age of 60 years, in spite of the fact that he is removed only in accordance with the procedure reserved for Judges of a superior court of adjudicature”.
The letter which carried the directive was signed by the President’s Executive Secretary, Asante Bediatuo.
It explained that the directive was based on the 1992 Constitution, the Labour Act, Audit Service Act and the A-G’s Conditions of Service.
The presidency further cited a case of Samuel M.K Adrah v. Electricity Company of Ghana, where the Supreme Court maintained that the employee takes his leave.
With suggestions that the Auditor-General’s office was equivalent to the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal judges who are not directed by the President in similar cases, Mr Dame indicated that it was “not sufficient to make the Auditor General subject to the same terms and conditions as the justices of a superior court of adjudicature.”
He pointed out that justices of a superior court of adjudicature do not retire at age 60 and other provisions in the Constitution specific to the judges do not apply to the Auditor-General.
On the oversight of the Board of the Audit Service not being applicable to the Auditor-General as suggested by Law Professor, Stephen Asare, Mr Dame stressed “it is also a fallacy” and “most misleading” that the AG can make appointments without recourse to the Board.
He backed his argument with Article 188 of the Constitution which he said give power to the Board to make an appointment and supervise the Auditor-General’s work.
He said the Auditor-General was the custodian of accountability and wondered how such a person would “also refuse to take his leave” while insisting that others abide by taking annual leave.
How can the governing Board not have control of the Auditor-General? He questioned.
His position is in variance with that of Professor Asare who maintained that Ghana’s Constitution does not give to the President to exert control over the Auditor-General.
“Can the President direct the Auditor General? No. Can the President exercise any control, including disciplinary control on the Auditor- General? No. Can the Board direct the Auditor General? No, ” he explained.
Labour expert, Austin Gamey, also indicated that an employee could not be forced to take an accumulated leave.
“It is expressly provided for, that we are to take annual leave for the purpose of the people taking good rest, health reason wise and then you the employer or government as the case may be you are saying that you are giving me accumulated leave.
“What is related to me under my conditions of service is that I must take annual leave, not accumulated leave,” he maintained.
He concluded, “It is a wrong thing that they are doing, I am not dealing with personalities, it is an error that is being perpetrated and then if we allow it to stand it is wrong”.