No public comments – Domelovo resumes work amid controversy
Auditor-General Daniel Domelevo has returned to post despite Audit Service Board calling him a retiree.
Mr Domelovo, who was compelled to go on compulsory leave last June, reported for work today, March 3, 2021.
He walked into the Audit Service building in the morning, wearing a grey African shirt over a pair of trousers.
However, he declined to make public comments concerning the controversy surrounding his office.
“I will not comment on any issues,” he told the press gathered at the Audit Service office in Accra.
President Akufo-Addo, in June 2020, asked Mr Domelevo to take an accumulated leave of 123 days, which was later extended to 167 days, effective July 1.
Before the leave ended, the Audit Service Board ruled that he should have retired on June 1, 2020, due to his age.
Mr Domelevo has challenged the claims of the Board of the Audit Service.
What are the concerns of the Board?
The Board arrived at a conclusion based on what it said were documents obtained from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) on Mr Domevelo’s official age.
“Records made available to the Board indicate that your date of retirement was 1st June 2020, and as far as the Audit Service is concerned, you are deemed to have retired,” Board Chair of the Audit Service Prof. Edward Dua Agyeman stated in a letter dated March 2.
It was after the Board had asked Mr Domelevo to provide explanations to differences in his age and nationality in SSNIT documents.
The Audit Service Board stated in an earlier letter dated February 26, 2021, that records at (SSNIT) completed and signed by Mr Domelevo indicated his “date of birth as 1st June 1960 when you joined the scheme on 1st October 1978. The records show that you stated your tribe as Togolese and a non-Ghanaian. That your home town is Agbatofe.”
It added that on October 25, 1992, Mr Domelevo completed and signed a SSNIT Change of Beneficiary Nomination form, stating his nationality as a Ghanaian and his hometown as Ada in the Greater Accra Region.
“The date of birth on your Ghanaian passport number A45800, issued on 28th February 1996, is 1st June 1961. That place of birth is stated as Kumasi, Ashanti Region,” the letter added.
In his response dated February 27, 2021, Mr Domelevo explained that his grandfather, Martin Demelevo Tetteh, was a Ghanaian from Boye-Doe Wem, which is part of the Gandgmebiawe clan of the Greater Accra Region, who migrated to Togo and stayed at Agbatofe.
His father, Augustine Domelevo, who was born in Agbatofe, migrated from Togo to the then Gold Coast and settled in Kwaku Adeemra.
“Either my father wrongly mentioned Agbatofe in Togo as his hometown to me, or I misconstrued it at the time… My mother is also a Ghanaian,” he explained.
“According to your letter, I stated my tribe as Togolese. If so, then it is certainly a mistake because Togolese is not and never been the name of a tribe”.
Date of birth claims
Mr Domelevo further explained that he got to know his true birth date “when I checked my information in the baptismal register of the Catholic Church in Adeemmra.”
According to Mr Domelevo, the Catholic register captured his native name ‘Yaw’, which included his birth date as June 1, 1961.
This, he said, conforms to the Thursday day name (Yaw). He further provided details of a Parish Priest named Rev Fr Dion for any verification.
This prompted the change at SNNIT on October 25, 1992, to reflect his date of birth as June 1, 1961, and the hometown to Ada in the Greater Accra Region.
He added that he was sure he provided legal backing otherwise SSNIT would not have affected the change.
However, the Audit Service Board insisted that his statement further casts doubt on his nationality.
The Board stated that he should provide the legal documents to back his claims on the changes because “information in the baptismal register of the Catholic Church in Adeemmra is not a valid document to authenticate your date of birth”.
The Board subsequently referred the matter to the President, who is the appointing authority for the Auditor-General, to take action.
President Akufo-Addo, in 2020, asked Mr Domelevo to take an accumulated leave but the directive was highly criticised by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), who further called for the reinstatement of Mr Domelevo.
According to the CSOs, President Akufo-Addo cannot ask the Auditor-General to proceed on leave when he had been assigned a special duty to investigate the payment of $1million to Kroll and Associates Limited by Senior Minister Yaw Osafo for some consultancy services.
The move was also criticised by some members of the NDC who said it was a strategy employed by the government to shield the Senior Minister from being investigated on the matter.
Despite these accusations, President Akufo-Addo refused to heed the calls of these groups on the basis that the Constitution makes provision for any public office holder to take leave.
The bad blood between the Board chair and Daniel Domelevo
Mr Domelevo and his Board Chair, Prof. Dua Agyeman, have been at loggerheads since 2017.
Mr Domelevo, appointed by former President John Mahama, had accused Prof. Dua Agyeman, appointed by President Akufo-Addo, of interfering in his work and violating his mandate.
The Auditor-General, in a May 2018 letter to President Akufo-Addo, asked for intervention in the matter.
Professor Dua Agyeman, a former Auditor-General, denied the allegations and accused Domelevo of disrespecting the Board.
“[Domelevo] is insisting that he is not answerable to the Board and that whatever instructions we give he will not take.”
President backs Board, CSOs back Domelevo
Things took a further nosedive after the Board directed Mr Domelevo, who had been fighting to make Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo refund some 4m cedis, to proceed on leave. He flatly refused.
The Board sought the president’s intervention and President Akufo-Addo directed Mr Daniel Domelevo to go on leave.
It was a saga that played out in the media as the presidency and the Auditor-General published their widely reported responses.
Some saw the directive as part of a plan to force out the anti-corruption campaigner. A coalition of civil society organisations backed the Auditor-General.
“We find the entire episode and the justification for the President’s action regrettable and inconsistent with both the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution.
The President has stood his ground, insisting the directive was grounded in law.
The appointment that irked the Akufo-Addo government
He was appointed in the dying days of the Mahama administration in December 2016. Since then, he has been viewed by figures within the NPP government with scepticism about his neutrality.
The Auditor-General had been at loggerheads with the president’s Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo, who has been asked to refund $1million for unlawfully contracting a UK-based consultancy on behalf of the government.
After proceeding on leave, the High Court reversed the Auditor-General’s decision to surcharge Yaw Osafo Maafo.
On October 30, 2020, the court ruled that Mr Domelevo breached natural justice by not giving Mr Osafo-Maafo a fair hearing to resolve the matter.
Daniel Domelevo has been praised for his anti-corruption fight. Diplomats have also applauded his work.
Daniel Domelevo’s viral comment, ‘if you fight corruption, corruption will fight you back,’ earned him praise from the Danish Ambassador.
Named the 2019 Integrity Personality of the Year, he has injected some bite in the Audit Service work formerly seen as toothless.
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