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Why has case on independence of Auditor-General stalled at Supreme Court - OccupyGhana

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
OccupyGhana on why case on independence of Auditor-General has stalled at Supreme Court
OccupyGhana on why case on independence of Auditor-General has stalled at Supreme Court

The pressure group, OccupyGhana has written to the Supreme Court asking why the suit seeking an interpretation on the independence of Auditor-General has stalled at Supreme Court.

There is a pending case "Isaac Wilberforce Mensah V. Auditor-General & Others" in which an interpretation is being sought on the independence of the Auditor-General in relation to Article 187(7)(a) of the 1992 Constitution.

It has to do with the independence of the Auditor-General in relation to the performance of his duty same as the Constitution uses the same words - "SHALL" - to grant independence to the Judiciary itself (article 127), the Electoral Commission (article 46), the National Media Commission (article 172), the Public Services Commission (article 198), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (article 225), the National Commission on Civic Education (article 234) and the Lands Commission (article 265).

On September 25, 2020, OccupyGhana applied to the Supreme Court for leave to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in that case.

On October 20, 2020, the Supreme Court heard the application and kindly granted it; and on October 26, 2020, OccupyGhana duly filed the Brief.

In a press statement issued Monday, May 23, 2022, OccupyGhana said: "We filed the Brief, believing that we could contribute and hopefully assist the Court in resolving the issue surrounding the interpretation of article 187(7)(a) of the Constitution, specifically, whether words ‘in the performance of his functions under this Constitution or any other law the Auditor-General… shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority,’ are in any way circumscribed."

OccupyGhana said the implications of that interpretation are critical to Ghana’s constitutional development because the Constitution uses the same words to grant independence to the Judiciary itself (article 127), the Electoral Commission (article 46), the National Media Commission (article 172), the Public Services Commission (article 198), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (article 225), the National Commission on Civic Education (article 234) and the Lands Commission (article 265).

"We believe that Ghana needs these institutions to be sufficiently empower and independent as a check on the vast and immense executive power.

"Specifically, the Auditor-General needs that independence to perform the functions of the office, particularly to issue, enforce and defend required Disallowances and Surcharges, something the Supreme Court described in OCCUPYGHANA V ATTORNEY-GENERAL as ‘the way forward.’ We hoped that through the Brief, we could contribute to the search and fight for a truly independent Auditor-General who can do this without fear, favour or interference.

"However, the progress of the case appears to have stalled and there is precious little that we can do to move it forward, because we are not parties to the action. That is why we have been compelled to write to the Registrar of the Court seeking clarification on why the matter is not being heard.

"We urge Ghanaians not to forget about this case but continue to be interested in the constitutional issues that it raises, and for the Court to speak on and resolve this matter once and for all," it added

Below is a copy of OccupyGhana's Statement

OCCUPYGHANA LBG PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA LBG GHANA SEEKS CLARIFICATION FROM SUPREME COURT REGISTRAR ON THE STATUS OF ISAAC WILBERFORCE MENSAH V AUDITOR-GENERAL & OTHERS

On 23 May 2022, our lawyers delivered a letter dated 20 May 2022 to the Registrar of the Supreme Court (attached) to ask why the case titled ISAAC WILBERFORCE MENSAH V AUDITOR-GENERAL & OTHERS appears to have stalled, after we filed our Amicus Brief on the matter.

It might be recalled that on 25 September 2020, we applied to the Supreme Court for leave to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in that case. On 20 October 2020, the Supreme Court heard the application and kindly granted it; and on 26 October 2020, we duly filed the Brief.

We filed the Brief, believing that we could contribute and hopefully assist the Court in resolving the issue surrounding the interpretation of article 187(7)(a) of the Constitution, specifically, whether words ‘in the performance of his functions under this Constitution or any other law the Auditor-General… shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority,’ are in any way circumscribed.

The implications of that interpretation are critical to Ghana’s constitutional development because the Constitution uses the same words to grant independence to the Judiciary itself (article 127), the Electoral Commission (article 46), the National Media Commission (article 172), the Public Services Commission (article 198), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (article 225), the National Commission on Civic Education (article 234) and the Lands Commission (article 265).

We believe that Ghana needs these institutions to be sufficiently empowered and independent as a check on the vast and immense executive power.

Specifically, the Auditor-General needs that independence to perform the functions of the office, particularly to issue, enforce and defend required Disallowances and Surcharges, something the Supreme Court described in OCCUPYGHANA V ATTORNEY-GENERAL as ‘the way forward.’ We hoped that through the Brief, we could contribute to the search and fight for a truly independent Auditor-General who can do this without fear, favour or interference.

However, the progress of the case appears to have stalled and there is precious little that we can do to move it forward, because we are not parties to the action. That is why we have been compelled to write to the Registrar of the Court seeking clarification on why the matter is not being heard.

We urge Ghanaians not to forget about this case but continue to be interested in the constitutional issues that it raises, and for the Court to speak on and resolve this matter once and for all.

Still in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana LBG

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