We need to relook at how asset declaration is done in this country – Prof Agyeman Duah

We need to relook at how asset declaration is done in this country – Prof Agyeman Duah

Professor Baffour Agyeman Duah, a governance expert has indicated that if the purported will of the former Chief Executive Officer of the forestry commission is true, then it raises questions about how asset declarations of public office holders are carried out in the country.

Prof Agyemang-Duah noted that the law mandates public officer holders to declare their assets before taking office, but it is not precise on what should be done after the declaration.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on Monday, May 23, indicated that it had taken a serious exception to some documents making rounds on social media and purportedly said to be the will of Sir John.

The said documents in question list some individual relatives of Mr Owusu Afriyie’s to have been allocated some portions of the Achimota Forest, which has become a topical issue in the past days as a result of an Executive Instrument signed by President Akufo-Addo to declassify portions of it.

“I give my portion of land that I jointly own at the Achimota Forest in the name of DML Limited to Elizabeth Asare Boateng who at the time of making this will is domiciled in the USA forever,” point g. of the will of the late public official, popularly known as Sir John, stated.

The Ministry says it will investigate the issue.

“The Ministry takes a very serious view of the allegations, and has requested for all documents relating to the lands in question, as part of an initial inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the claims,” a statement issued on Sunday, May 22 by the Ministry said.

“Considering that the issues that form the basis of the allegations predate the tenure of the current Minister, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, MP, it is important that he is seized with the full facts to enable him to take appropriate action, if, indeed, there is any merit in the claims.

“The Ministry assures the general public and the good people of Ghana that it will ensure that the national interest is protected at all times, especially in matters about the Achimota Forest.”

Asked whether the contents of the will smack of conflict of interest if proven to be true, Prof Agyemang-Duah said “Yes of course, because the person in question chaired the Forestry Commission, he was the CEO of the Forestry Commission, and part of his responsibilities had been to take care of public lands. So, if it is proven to be true that while in office he acquired pieces of land, of course, it is a serious case of interest.

“I think this whole issue raises more critical issues that we need to confront as a nation as we try to combat corruption in our country. We have the Public Officers Declaration of Assets Act, which requires all public officials to submit their assets to the Auditor General.

“The law requires them to submit before taking office and then at the end of every four years or the end of their term they are supposed to go back again.

“What the law is not precise about is, after you have submitted the assets to the Auditor General, what happens next?”

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