OccupyGhana notes that Mr Daniel Domelevo, the Auditor-General, resumes office today after his leave. We welcome him back.
A lot has happened since he was controversially ordered to go on leave, an action with which we vehemently disagreed, as expressed in our Press Statement dated 9th July 2020.
The purpose of this release is to set out some of these developments that have happened in his absence, and to show how much work is cut out for him, for the remainder of his term of office.
First, we note with much concern, that the exercise of the Auditor-General’s power to disallow and surcharge appears to have gone on leave with Mr Domelevo.
The most recent Report of the Auditor-General on MDAs for 2019, which was published in his absence, barely mentioned disallowances and surcharges.
Yet it contained the usual retinue of infractions that should have attracted disallowances and surcharges in accordance with article 187(7) of the Constitution and in compliance with the 2017 Supreme Court decision in OCCUPYGHANA V ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
There appeared to be a clear nosedive or volte face, an attempt to return to the dark days before the Supreme Court decision when Auditor-General Reports were an exercise of empowered impotence, and successive Auditors-General had meekly abandoned their disallowance and surcharge powers by merely making recommendations in the face of blatant thievery, and to which recommendations were paid slight attention and scant regard.
Second, we note that in the Auditor-General’s absence, there have been at least 2 cases filed and pending at the Supreme Court, challenging the power of the President to direct an Auditor-General to go on leave. We await the decisions.
Third, and on our part, we were granted leave by the Supreme Court to file an Amicus Brief in another pending action that seeks the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the constitutional delineation of the functions and powers between the Auditor-General and the Audit Service Board. We await that decision too.
Fourth, we note that some appeals against disallowances and surcharges, filed under the provisions of CI 102 (the enactment of which we prompted by writing, and then submitting an first draft, to the Rules of Court Committee) have advanced to the Supreme Court.
In one such case, the apex court has clarified and distilled further, the circumstances under which the disallowance and surcharge powers may be exercised. We welcome that decision.
Fifth, there were comments by the minister-designate for National Security, Mr Albert Kan Dapaah on the exercise of these powers, claiming that they were subject to Parliamentary control. In our press release dated 16th February 2021, we strongly disagreed with him, pointing out how his position runs counter to the Constitution.
We have since had a direct and very constructive engagement with him and we are probably convinced that he may no longer hold that view.
Sixth, we have also noted that the simmering friction with the Audit Service Board has reared its head even before Mr Domelevo re-enters his office. We do not shy away from constitutional friction, because that is how the law gets developed.
That is why we hope that, first, the members of Board appointed by the President, including the Board Chair, have ascertained that their continued stay in office after 6 January 2021 complies with the 2012 Presidential (Transition) Act as clarified by the 2019 Supreme Court in DONKOR V ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
We hope that they have also ascertained that notwithstanding any alleged or purported extension of their respective terms of office in the latter part of 2020, they have not been subsequently and effectively removed from office by the Chief of Staff’s letter on the matter, dated 12 January 2021, ref: SCR/DAB9/314/01.
We hope the affected Board members have advised themselves that although the Board is established by the Constitution, their tenure was set down by statute (the Audit Service Act), and that that tenure was then effectively amended by Presidential (Transition) Act. And, the Chief of Staff’s letter under reference does not contain any exceptions with respect to the Board.
We further hope that the Audit Service Board, to the extent that it has capacity to still act, if it has any valid grounds for challenging Mr Domelevo being in office, will comply with the constitutional procedure for such challenges, and not seek to take the law into its own hands.
It is against this background that we welcome Mr Domelevo back. He has just a few months to retire and we are confident that he will discharge his functions and exercise his powers over this period in a way that will reinforce the magnitude and critical relevance of that office.
Under our constitutional dispensation, the Office of the Auditor-General is a key independent office that the Constitution has created (along with others such as the Electoral Commission) to essentially provide checks and balances to the otherwise awesome power of the executive under the same Constitution. Long may it remain so.
Yours in the service of God and Country