The fight against corruption was one of the key campaign promises the then candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo used to win the presidency in December 2016.
It was therefore no surprise that the new president in his first State Of The Nation Address, SoNA; in February 2017, made strong and categorical statements about corruption. He used the word “corruption” four times.
February 2017: What Akufo-Addo said about corruption during SoNA
The rule of law should remain our guiding and unbending principle. Those of us in public service should acknowledge that corruption is one of the biggest concerns to the people of Ghana.
It is the one subject on which a surprising number of people are willing to tolerate a waiver of due process. This is because, unfortunately, public officials are in danger of losing the confidence of the people in the fight against corruption.
There is a perception that all public officials are part of a great scam to defraud the public and that they protect each other. It is in everybody’s interest that the fight against corruption is transparent and has the support of the public.
We will put in place policies that will deliver sustainable growth and cut out corruption.
SoNA 2021: no mention of the word “corruption”
Five years later in March 2021, AkufoAddo delivered his fifth SoNA and the word corruption was absent at a time government was being bashed over handling of the retirement of immediate past Auditor – General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo.
“Mr. Speaker, my Government found the resources to cushion the impact of the pandemic because we are good managers of the economy, and we are good protectors of the public purse,” this was the closest Akufo-Addo came to the issue of corruption.
In this piece, GhanaWeb looks back at anti-corruption crusaders – public and private, who have been muscled out or had their activities disrupted by the Akufo-Addo government despite repeated commitments to the fight against corruption.
The case of Daniel Yaw Domelevo
The most recent victim of the ‘corruption fightback’ for want of a better word, is the immediate past Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo who was recently retired by the presidency.
Domelevo was returning from accumulated leave ordered by the president since June last year. The order was issued at a time his office was conducting a probe against the then Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo.
The Senior Minister and four other officials from the Ministry of Finance had sued Domelevo to clear their names in relation to what was said to be breaches of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) that resulted in their payment of US$1 million to a private UK firm, Kroll and Associates.
Some civil organizations and individuals at the time cautioned that the Auditor-General’s resolve to surcharge alleged corrupt officials, including top appointees like the Senior Minister could lead to his removal.
His forced resignation – for want of a better word – has triggered a backlash on government over claims that instead of supporting him to fight corruption, government was shielding its own.
Martin Amidu kicks dust, quits
The January 2018 appointment of Martin Amidu as the inaugural Special Prosecutor was hailed by anti-corruption crusaders. The government got even more plaudits for appointing someone with pedigree from outside of it to lead the charge.
Over that time till November 2020 when he resigned, the former Attorney General complained among others of lack of cooperation by other state institutions and lack of funding for his office.
But it took a damning corruption risk assessment report on the infamous Agyapa Royalties deal and its impact to force him to resign from his position.
Amidu’s report had concluded that there were breaches of the Public Procurement Act and the Public Financial Management Act with regards to how the advisors of the gold royalty fund agreement were procured.
Martin Amidu disclosed that the process involving the transaction raised reasonable suspicion of bid-rigging and corruption. The report also indicated that the procurement of service providers for the transaction showed possible cronyism and nepotism which could result in illicit financial activities and money laundering.
His resignation was widely seen as yet another case of corruption fighting back with the enablement of the government because its members were neck deep in the issues.
Mannaseh Azure Awuni
Mannaseh Azure Awuni, prior to January 2017 was an ardent critic of the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama government. He publicly supported the election of Akufo-Addo with an eye on anti-corruption combat. Years on; he is fighting the government over corruption – publicly.
Under the Akufo-Addo government, he exposed a procurement fraud case by the head of Public Procurement Authority, PPA. The president eventually sacked the CEO of the PPA, citing the content of the report.
Till date, the former Multimedia journalist continues to publicly call out the president and his government in areas of economic mismanagement and corruption.
Mannaseh, is on record to have sought refuge outside Ghana after he received death threats following the airing of an investigative piece which highlighted the activities of De Eye Group; a private firm which operated at the former seat of government; Osu Castle.
Following the investigation, Manasseh also became a source of incessant attacks from a section of the ruling NPP.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Candidate Akufo-Addo said years ago that he was going to employ ‘The Anas Principle’ in his fight against corruption. The principle is in respect of naming, shaming and jailing corrupt officials.
Anas’ last investigative piece christened ‘galamsey fraud’ uncovered massive scale of fraud perpetrated by some members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee against Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
The secret filming captured presidential staffer and secretary to the committee, Mr. Charles Cromwell Bissue taking cash amounting to GH¢35,000 in three meetings through one Andy Owusu who is an aide to Ashanti Regional Chairman of the governing NPP, Bernard Antwi-Boasiako.
The amounts were said to be to help circumvent the process to renew operational license for a mining firm. The documentary aired on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 led to a probe of Bissue and other indicted persons.
Anas subsequently came under attack from some key members and activists of the ruling New Patriotic Party, key amongst them, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong and Chairman Wontumi, who repeatedly threatened to expose the journalist for working against the government.
Where next from here?
The Domelevo saga continues to gain big traction from anti-corruption crusaders and civil society organizations, CSOs. The most recent being a damning verdict by Prof Emmanuel Gyimah Boadi, co-founder of the Afrobarometer think-tank.
“As for the president’s credibility in terms of anti-corruption, I am afraid to say it is in tatters. It has been in tatters for a while but this puts a nail in the coffin.
“I see Domelevo as a victim of well-orchestrated actions by individuals who are [government] officials and by state institutions,” Prof Gyimah-Boadi told Citi TV in a report monitored by GhanaWeb on Wednesday.
The issue of corruption has also dominated discussions in parliament as lawmakers debate the SoNA which was delivered early this week. Some CSOs are considering going to court or appealing to Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, CHRAJ, to challenge the forced resignation.