MP questions PAC’s mandate to arrest 2 assembly officials

The Member of Parliament for Effutu in the Central Region, Alex Afenyo Markin, has questioned the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) order for the arrest of two district assembly officials accused of lying to the committee.

The two persons who appeared before the committee on Monday were cited for irregularities at the Sefwi Akontombra Assembly in the Western North Region and picked up by Parliament’s police following an order by the committee’s chairman, Dr. James Klutse Avedzi.

Mr. Afenyo Markin was of the view that Dr. Avedzi may be setting a bad precedent with his action.

“We should not set a bad precedent. Under criminal jurisprudence, due process is essential, therefore, to me, as a matter of law, if there were issues regarding the testimonies, the chairman should have filed a complaint or gone to the police to file a complaint,” Mr. Afenyo Markin said in an interview.

The Effutu MP insisted that, in the bid to fight corruption, “procedure is as important as substance.”

He argued that Dr. Avedzi could even compromise the committee’s mandate by “overzealously acting in a manner that will abuse people’s rights” because certain conclusions “require proper investigative evaluation.”

“Are we documentation examiners? Are we fraud examiners? On what basis did we say the document is compromised,” he asked.

The two persons who were arrested; Isaac Akowaah, a former District Finance Officer of the assembly and James Esilfie, the current District Finance Officer, were accused of conniving to lie to the committee over irregularities cited in the report when they appeared before the committee on Monday.

After first meeting last week by officials from the assembly, PAC raised questions about some 62 payment vouchers that could not be accounted for.

After further enquiries, PAC could only trace nine of the payment vouchers.

During that meeting, the assembly was asked to recall the former District Finance Officer, who had been transferred outside the district, to appear on Monday and explain the absence of the vouchers.

After checks with the auditors, following Isaac Akowaah’s testimony, the committee felt that the accounts being given did not add up.

This therefore compelled the PAC Chairman to order the arrests.

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