President John Mahama’s trackrecord in the fight against corruption is the poorest of all three predecessors in the 4th Republic, legal practitioner, Egbert Faibille has assessed.
He pointed out that in comparison to presidents John Atta Mills, John Kuffour and Jerry Rawlings, President Mahama has failed to send a “clear signal” that his government abhors corruption.
“He will be remembered as the only president in the 4th Republic who did very little to fight corruption”, the Accra-based lawyer said on Multi TV’s Saturday news analysis program, Newsfile.
President Mahama and government have been celebrating Ghana’s position in the latest corruption perception. Government communicator, Sam George referred to investigations by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) into National Service Scheme, unearthing a scandal that has cost the jobs of top officials.
Over GHC 7.9 million was paid to over 22,000 non-existent national service personnel in July 2014. The Executive Director of the NSS, Alhaji Alhassan Imoro and 23 others who were implicated in the case were asked to step aside for further investigations to take place. Some 163 staff of the Scheme have been dismissed.
But Egbert Faibille Jnr who is counsel for six directors suing the BNI is not impressed about government’s committment. He said a perception report is not needed to conclude that government is not serious in tackling corruption.
For the lawyer, the scandal within the NSS is enough to ‘bring the government down’ he said but refrained from giving any details.
He pointed out that there is an Attorney-General’s report recommending the prosecution of certain public officials who failed to ensure value for money after a bus re-branding contract was inflated.
“Shouldn’t people be facing prosecution in a serious government?” Egbert Faibille questioned, adding his voice to calls by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) for prosecutions.
But government has only asked the bus-rebranding company, Smarttys to refund excess payment of Ȼ1.9million out of the GH Ȼ3.6 million of oil funds used to brand 116 buses. The company is expected to pay back without interest by March after the scandal broke last December.
Egebert Faillble noted that there are several examples of companies defrauding the state only to be asked to pay back without interest and without any attempt to prosecute actors involved.
He stressed this proves government has not sent a ‘clear signal’ yet in the fight against corruption.
A presidential staffer Sam George had pointed out, government has saved the tax payer some GH₵500million after fighting off huge claims against government in court.
But Egbert Faibille Jnr laughed this off as ‘preposterous’. He said going to court to fight off a claim is a basic function of every government and therefore cannot be in itself an achievement.
“What is government supposed to do when it is taken to court? You are supposed to contest so you contest”, Egbert said.
Fighting off the claim of a legally registered company in court cannot amount to fighting corruption, the lawyer stressed.
Unless government can prove that there were collusions with these companies to defraud the state, then winning a case in court cannot be fighting corruption.
Building his case further, Egbert Faibille Jnr noted that if winning a case against a company was fighting corruption then the other judgment debt cases the government lost showed it failed to fight the canker.
“Holy Moses.This is the level we have reduced the fight against corruption to?” he expressed disappointment.
According to Egbert, government is suffering from a ‘fixation’ with judgment debts because it was severely castigated in the 2011 Woyome scandal where a businessman acting in collusion with top government officials including a minister defrauded the state by more than 51million cedis.
Government failed to contest the claim in court and it took a private citizen to get a Supreme Court ruling to order the repayment of these monies.
Since then, going to court to fight a judgment debt claim is considered by government as a thumbs-up, Egbert Faibille suggested. This is ‘paranoid’ ‘myopic’ and ‘short-sighted’, the lawyer said.