The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has commenced investigating 428 public office holders for failing to declare their assets.
However, it did not give further details on the cases as that can prejudice the outcome of the investigations which extended to officials who failed to declare their assets in 2020.
According to CHRAJ, “284 of them are also cases that were brought to the attention of the Commission in August this year”.
Stephen Azantilow, Director, Anti-Corruption at CHRAJ, revealed at a public forum on ‘Declaration of Assets by Public Office Holders and the Fight against Corruption in Ghana’, in Accra organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
The law requires the President, Vice-President, Speaker of Parliament, Deputy Speakers of Parliament, Members of Parliament, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State, Ambassadors, Chief Justice, Judges of Superior Court, Judges of Inferior Court and managers of public institutions in which the state has interest to submit to Auditor-General written declarations of all assets owned by them.
The Constitution also requires the declaration to be done before the public officer takes office however, Section 1(4)(c) of the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act directs public office holders to meet this requirement not later than six months after taking office, at the end of every four years and not later than six months at the end of their term.
Reacting to criticisms that the Commission had failed to hold public officials who did not comply with the Act to account, Mr Azantilow said the absence of explicit punishment in the law had rendered it helpless because the law did not critically give information some public office holders had not declared their assets before assuming or leaving office.
“We are hoping that the law will come into force so that we know exactly what to do, as a Commission, decisions are not always final since people are aware some of our decisions have been challenged in court, if you make decision that does not stand the test of time, it will be challenged in court and we have faced those embarrassments and we are also careful the way we handle our issues,” Mr Azantilow lamented.
Linda Ofori-Kwafo, Executive Director, Ghana Integrity Initiative, emphasised the need for strong leadership to ensure enforcement of asset declaration regime.