Our front page banner headline of yesterday “Parliament, Judiciary deadlocked…. Over right to prosecute public officials for financial malfeasance” has elicited some interesting responses from the public.
The story which only threw light on the struggle between Parliament and the Judiciary, over which court should be responsible for the prosecution of public officers found culpable of financial malfeasance by the Auditor General’s Report on the public accounts of Ghana, for us, has set the tone for public debate with the view of settling the impasse.
As a matter of fact, the law is unambiguous over the establishment of the Financial Administration Courts (FAC), to enforce the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for the recovery of monies, assets and other property due the state, from those found culpable by the Report.
Under Act 645 which provides for the said Courts, the Chief Justice is mandated to set them up, in consultation with the Judicial Council and the approval of the President.
Even though the Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood, has exercised her powers by establishing the Courts in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi/Takoradi and Tamale among other places, Parliament is questioning their composition and membership.
According to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, the composition of the court is not as stated in the Financial Administration Act, 2003.
He says that Parliament had written to the judiciary, through the Speaker, to enquire about the composition of the FAC but, then “the response was not clear”.
The feedback we are getting from the story is a picture of frustrated people whose hopes that the FAC had come to ensure that the fight against corruption is carried to another level, seem shattered, if not dashed.
The Times is equally frustrated that our letter to the Judicial Service for clarification of the issue, has gone unanswered over a fortnight.
The fight against corruption is the duty of all Ghanaians and, therefore, it is unhealthy that institutions mandated to fight it, cannot agree on the composition of the courts to deal with the canker.
We consequently urge Parliament and the Judiciary to resolve their differences on the issue as quickly as possible, to ensure that the courts are duly constituted to tackle the malfeasance of public officials.
It is strange that two important and critical arms of government, cannot agree on such an issue as the establishment of courts to check corrupt practices in the public arena.
We all agree that corruption in the public arena is too high and the only way to curb it, is the prosecution of officials involved to serve as a deterrent for others.