Renowned Lawyer and Professor of Accounting, Stephen Kwaku Asare ( Kwaku Azar), has reacted to the directive from the president asking the Auditor-General to proceed on his accumulated leave saying it would be in the interest of the president to protect the independence of the Auditor-General.
He was of the view that ”any attempts to remove him from office, no matter how clever, will be seen as interference with his work and will irreparably tarnish the President’s record.”
A statement signed and issued by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin on Monday, June 29, 2020, stated that the directive from the president is in accordance with sections 20 (1) and 31 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) which apply to all workers, including public office holders such as the Auditor-General.
He has been also asked to hand over all matters relating to his office to Mr Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, the Deputy Auditor-General, to act as Auditor-General, “until his return from his well-deserved leave.”
However, the lawyer says what the president did was unlawful because ”the law is abundantly clear that the AG’s right to leave of absence cannot be varied to his disadvantage. It is equally clear that the AG is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”, he added.
Read his full post below
It is in the interest of the President to protect the independence of the Auditor-General. Any attempts to remove him from office, no matter how clever, will be seen as interference with his work and will irreparably tarnish the President’s record.
Once appointed the Auditor General must be allowed to hold office until the age of sixty years subject to an Article 199(4) extension for a 2+2+1 post-retirement tenure.
On the record, I also urge the President to grant the Auditor General this Article 199(4) dispensation.
The law is abundantly clear that the AG’s right to leave of absence cannot be varied to his disadvantage. It is equally clear that the AG is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
The reason for the law is to protect his independence. The constitutional amendment of 1964 that brought the AG under the control of the ministry of finance and the ensuing political interference in the work of the PAC all informed the 1992 constitution framers in making him report directly to Parliament’s PAC, designed to be chaired by a ranking member from the opposition party.
Thus, the AG cannot be forced to take his leave or to forfeit his leave by the President. Not can the President issue other controls or directions to him.
There must be a compelling reason to force the AG to take his leave. His leave conditions must be determined by the more specific Audit Service Act not the general Labour Act (generalia specializes non-derogant).
I do not find the Mills’ precedent persuasive. Actually, I find it amusing.
Nor do I find sections 20(1) or 31 of the Labour Act as a reasonable basis for forcing the AG to take his leave. Section 20(1) merely provides for a leave entitlement and section 31 merely voids any agreement to relinquish the entitlement.
There are several ongoing audits, including KROLL, MP backpay, etc. where one can reasonably say the AG is clashing with the executive.
Under those circumstances, any attempts to remove the AG will offend the separation of powers, constitutionalism and the growing of our institutions.
The President must reconsider and the AG must stand his grounds.
Civil society groups too have a role here. They should, as in Malawi, protest this move to interfere with the functions of the AG, culminating in lawsuits and an injunction preventing the removal of the Chief Justice for the same accumulated leave “offence.”
128/1820 is a bona fide scam and sham.