Yesterday, hundreds of members of anti-corruption groups and civil society organisations marched within the Ministries enclave in Accra to remind the Auditor-General (A-G) of his constitutional mandate to disallow illegal expenditures and surcharge public officials found to have engaged in financial irregularities.
The protesters’ reason was that every year, the Auditor General’s Report unearthed massive corruption in the public sector but the A-G had failed to enforce a constitutional provision mandating him to apply sanctions, including retrieving the moneys stolen.
To them, the situation was likely to encourage others to engage in financial irregularities and so their action was meant to help protect the public purse.
It is good that some Ghanaians have started acting in the full glare of the public regarding their hatred for the rising rate of corruption in the public sector.
The Ghanaian Times has never minced words in condemning corruption cases that come to its notice and so supports the protest held yesterday.
It gives that support gleefully because the whole world has seen or heard of it, especially the reason necessitating it.
The protest gives some sort of credence to the paper’s recent editorial comments condemning corruption among politicians and other public officials.
The paper is happy that the day it envisaged has come sooner than it expected and so encourages Ghanaians who want to see the country progress to keep the fire alive.
If such caring Ghanaians would continue the protest unabated, public officials would be forced to abandon their evil ways or live to regret their nefarious acts.
It is time to use the law to make life uncomfortable for public officials who have engaged in financial irregularities and think their acts have escaped detection and sanctions.
It should be possible to have a law to set a period as a reference point for hauling such corrupt public officials before the courts.
The Fourth Republic can be that reference point because it can hardly be beaten as the period in which the most heinous corrupt cases have taken place.
As an issue the protesters raised, it is critical that all citizens support the fight against corruption in the public sector.
This calls for individuals, groups, agencies and state organisations determining what roles to play to meet public expectations.
Currently, some of the expectations are the scrapping of Article 71 and amendment of Article 57(6) of the 1992 Constitution to make it possible to even prosecute former presidents for corruption and other crimes clearly found to have been planned and executed.
As it is now, if civil or criminal proceedings are not instituted against a person within three years after his ceasing to be President, to a large extent, he is free forever.
Elsewhere that is not the case and this where the public should sustain the call for such constitutional reforms or amendments and Parliament must begin to prepare to make the process move unhindered when the time comes.
All other processes that appear to be hindering the fight against corruption in the public sector must be eliminated.
It must be noted that corruption is now about the nation’s conscience than ever before.