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Court to rule on Domelevo, EOCO’s legal tussle on December 15

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo
Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo

The Accra High Court will on December 15, this year, give a ruling on a suit that has put two anti-graft agencies on a collision course.

The suit, filed by the Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, is challenging the capacity of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate him and his outfit over certain alleged procurement breaches.

Mr Domelevo and the Audit Service have been accused of not adhering to procurement laws in the purchase of some vehicles worth almost GH¢6.2 million.

The Auditor-General has consistently denied all the allegations and described the investigations by EOCO as a “storm in a teacup”.

Mr Domelevo’s case

In an application filed at the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court l, the Auditor-General contended that EOCO had no legal mandate to investigate alleged procurement breaches against him, any official of the Audit Service, the service itself or any public official or public institution.

Rather, the application, which seeks to enforce what Mr Domelevo described as his fundamental human rights, averred that only the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) had the mandate to investigate corruption-related offences under the procurement laws of the country or any form of suspected corruption-related offences.

It is the argument of Mr Domelevo that EOCO used to have the power to investigate all forms of offences relating to financial loss to the state, but that changed with the promulgation of the OSP Act, 2017 (Act 959).

“Offences relating to suspected corruption and corruption-related offences under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and general corruption under the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) involving public officials must now be statutorily investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor and no other institution”, the affidavit in support of the application deposed to by Mr Domelevo said.

Based on his contention, the Auditor-General has described the investigation by EOCO as “wrongful, illegal, capricious and null and void”.

Reliefs

Mr Domelevo is seeking a declaration from the court that EOCO has no statutory mandate to investigate the Audit Service for any alleged breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and also for the court to declare the investigations by EOCO as illegal, null and void.

He is further seeking an order of injunction directed at EOCO, its agents or officials from investigating any alleged procurement breaches against the Audit Service.

The applicant also wants an order of injunction to stop EOCO or any of its officials from arresting him or any official of the Audit Service in connection with EOCO’s investigations into the alleged procurement breaches.

Letter and EOCO’s response

On November 18, 2019, the Auditor-General wrote to EOCO to stop probing him and his outfit, with the argument that the investigative body had no power to do so.

He, consequently, demanded an unqualified apology from the anti-graft state agency within five working days from the date of the receipt of the letter.

In his response, the Executive Director of EOCO, Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Frank Adu-Poku (retd), told the Daily Graphic that he had received a copy of the letter from the Auditor-General and expressed disgust at the contents.

“Yes, I just received a copy of the letter. But if he [Auditor General] has any difficulty with our mandate, he cannot sit in the comfort of his office and proffer his own interpretation to suit his whims and caprices”, Mr Adu-Poku said.

The EOCO boss questioned the interpretation put on the law by Mr Domelevo.

“That interpretation, if any, should be done by the courts”, he said.