Legal experts and researchers have called for a review of the legal framework of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in order to make it an independent agency to deal effectively with organised crime.
They stated that a relook at the legal framework should disallow the appointment of the executive director, board members and staff of the state anti-corruption agency by the President but must be based on merit, along the lines of how the Public Services Commission appointed its officers to the Public Service.
They expressed the belief that such an arrangement would strongly empower EOCO to investigate and prosecute current public officers, as well as political party officials, who engaged in corrupt practices.
“Per EOCO’s legal framework, all the appointments of EOCO, including the executive director, are made by the President, who can terminate his appointment, in accordance with his letter of appointment, and this does not make the executive director independent,” they stated.
They are a law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Mrs Clara Kasser-Tee; a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Professor Atsu Aryee, and a private legal practitioner, Mr William Nyarko.
They were among panellists who discussed ways to make EOCO a more efficient and effective public anti-corruption agency in Accra yesterday.
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The event, on the theme: “Combating organised crime in Ghana — A shared responsibility”, brought together legal and security experts, as well as civil society organisations, to assess the operations of EOCO since its formation nine years ago.
Mrs Kasser-Tee, who was the lead discussant on the panel, said the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) argument for the department’s inability to deal with corruption among public officers was the difficulty to prosecute political party members of a government.
She said it was the challenge that faced the executives of EOCO, mainly the executive director, who was appointed by the President, who also wielded the power to terminate his appointment, in accordance with his letter of appointment.
She, therefore, stressed the need for the legal framework of EOCO to be reconsidered to allow the executives to go through the normal appointment procedures.
“We should put in place the relevant legal framework and office framework for every person to apply by going through interviews and this will help EOCO become independent,” she said.
Dealing with sitting public officials
Mrs Kasser-Tee said for the effective prevention of corruption, EOCO must begin investigations with current public officials who had the opportunity to commit corruption, saying that “if you wait for them to leave office before you go after them, the money would have been lost