The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) Ghana, a public accountability organisation has filed documents at the Supreme Court of Ghana against the Attorney General over what the group says is Ghana’s weak Asset Declaration regime.
Asset declaration is a multifunctional anti-corruption tool aimed at detecting the acquisition of illegal and unjust enrichment and for recovery of same to the state and building broader integrity of public service.
Led by its Executive Director, Mensah Thompson, the suit by ASEPA Ghana among other things is seeking to get the Supreme Court to make a declaration that the Public Office Holders Declaration of Asset and Liabilities Act, Act 550 violates the letter and spirit of Article 286(1) of the 1992 and therefore to the extent of the inconsistency be declared null and void.
Mr Thompson said this in a statement signed and issued in Accra on Tuesday.
He stressed that Article 286 of the 1992 constitution required public office holders listed under clause 5 to declare their assets and liabilities before taking office.
“A person who holds a public office mentioned in clause (5) of this article shall submit to the Auditor-General a written declaration of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by, him whether directly or indirectly; within three months after the coming into force of this Constitution or before taking office, as the case may be; at the end of every four years; and at the end of his term of office,” he added.
On the contrary, Mr Thompson said the Public Office Holders Declaration of Assets and Disqualifications Act (1998) Act 550 was giving the public office holders a six-month grace period to declare their assets and liabilities after taking office, which they believed was an error and inconsistent with the letter and spirit of Article 286 of the Constitution of Ghana 1992.
“This error we believe defeats the purpose of asset declarations in the first place because six(6) months it’s a long time for a public office holder to see a significant shift in their asset and liabilities position,” he added.
Furthermore, Mr Thompson said the suit also seeks to get the Supreme Court to make an order requiring all public office holders who declared their assets and liabilities under the defective provision of Act 550 to resubmit their declarations to the Auditor General and finally to get a declaration that on the face of Article 286, any declaration of assets by a public office holder must be their asset position before taking office and not at the time of declaration.