The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations Against Corruption have expressed disdain at what they described as a ‘Constructive Dismissal’ of Auditor General Daniel Domelevo.
According to the CSOs moves like these drag the social and economic growth of a country as it does not only send negative signals to investors and businesses but also affect the social fabric of the nation.
Speaking at a press conference organized to express their resentment about President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo’s decision to push Mr. Domelevo into retirement even though according to Mr. Domelevo his retirement age was due next year, Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Centre for Democratic Development CDD-Ghana, Dr. Kojo Asante said events preceding the forced retirement did not make the directive a surprising one.
“The antecedents of the Domelevo matter has left a sour taste in all our mouths and lead us to question the commitment of our leaders to accountable governance. It is a wakeup call to all well-meaning Ghanaians to be citizens and not spectators.
To speak up and not stay silent when such manifestly unfair treatment is meted to individuals who are trying to do their job and do it with integrity. If we want social and economic transformation, silence is not an option. After 64 years of independence, we owe it to this generation to chart a true democratic path that is inclusive and meritocratic,” Mr. Asante said.
The CSOs have also urged Auditor General Domelevo to take action against the Audit Service Board and the Presidency for administrative injustice.
On March 3, 2021, a letter issued by the Office of the President retired Mr. Domelevo as Auditor-General, on grounds that he had attained the age of retirement based on his alleged date of birth being June 1, 1960.
This came after a long tango the Auditor General had had with the Chairman of the Audit Service Board, Prof Dua-Agyemang and the Presidency which resulted in him being asked to proceed on a compulsory leave of 123 working days which was later extended to 167 working days.
Upon his return from leave, the Office of the President, issued another letter asking Mr. Domelovo to proceed on retirement.
The CSOs said at their Press Conference that: “The manner in which the questions regarding Mr. Domelevo’s date of birth, which formed the basis of the President’s letter, were not handled in accordance with the constitutional directive in Article 23 that administrative actions should be handled fairly, reasonably and in compliance with the due process of law. The coordinated actions of the Office of the President and the Audit Service Board Chair on this matter further confirms our belief that Mr. Domelevo has been unfairly targeted.”
The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations Against Corruption and many Ghanaians believe that a conflict-of-interest allegation against Audit Service Board Chair Prof Dua-Agyemang is what sparked the animosity to get him out of office.
Mr. Domelevo questioned why Prof Dua-Agyemang was acting as Secretary to a Cabinet Committee conducting investigations (or ‘forensic audits’) into key transactions undertaken by the previous John Mahama Administration. The said Cabinet Committee, in carrying out its investigations contracted some private firms to assist it with the investigations. Amongst these firms was Kroll Associates.
According to the CSOs: “it is curious how the Board Chairman of the Audit Service, a state agency responsible for independently auditing all public accounts would act as Secretary to a Cabinet Committee which conducted ‘forensic audits’ into transactions initiated and entered into by a previous administration without being engaged in a conflict of interest and or conflict of duties. It was clear that the prolonged unprofessional entanglement that the Board Chair, Prof Dua-Agyemang, had placed himself in with the Executive was going to lead to a clash.”
In the same year (2018), the Office of the Auditor General in its report of December 2018 on Ministries, Departments and Agencies indicated that “during our review of the contract with Kroll Associates, we noted that though there was no evidence of work done, the Finance Ministry in 2018 paid US$1million to the company’.
Auditor General Domelevo, therefore, surcharged the Former Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo and four other officials of the Finance Ministry over the payment of about US$1million to Kroll Associates, allegedly, for consultancy services. It was after these that the rift between the Auditor General, the Audit Service Board Chairman and the Presidency intensified leading to his forced retirement.
CSOs praise Domelevo
The CSOs said, since his appointment, Auditor-General Domelevo has discharged the responsibilities of his office with exceptional dedication. The powers of Surcharge and Disallowance, which are attached to the Office of the Auditor General but had never before been exercised in the history of the 4th Republic, was activated during his tenure, thanks to the decision of the Supreme Court in OccupyGhana v Attorney-General (2017) and has been applied vigorously.
They added that, through his diligence and commitment to protecting the public purse, Auditor-General Domelevo successfully recovered for the State tens of millions of Cedis in unauthorized spending or misappropriated funds. For instance, in 2018, the Office of the Auditor General, leveraging its surcharge and disallowance powers, successfully recovered a total of GH¢67.32milion (about US $11.7million) into government coffers.
Improvement in asset declaration administration
They said under his leadership, the Office of the Auditor General implemented an electronic data system to handle declarations made by public officers with respect to their assets and liabilities, as is required of them by Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution and the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550).
Through this initiative as well, the Office of the Auditor-General is able to generate and maintain an up-to date database of eligible public officers and to prompt them to make a declaration. It has additionally simplified the process for declaring assets and liabilities. They noted that, while the legal regulatory framework for asset declaration of public officers still requires significant reform, Auditor-General Domelevo deserves commendation for this initiative.