Auditor-General’s Report: I don’t blame judges for unlawful purchase of vehicles – Political Science lecturer

auditor generals report i dont blame judges for unlawful purchase of vehicles political science lecturer
Asah Asante Utag

A political science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr Kwame Asah-Asante, says judges who were implicated for unlawfully buying vehicles in the latest Auditor-General’s report should not be blamed.

According to him, the said judges are not at fault because, there is a a defective system which encourages such practices.

Speaking on the AM Show on Wednesday, he explained that, the judges only played according to the existing practice whereby uncleared port vehicles are auctioned by the state, and therefore they did no wrong.

He, therefore, called for a review of the country’s policies on uncleared vehicles at the port.

“I am also surprised that we still have a policy which is not only insulting, but distasteful in the mouth of every rational human being. People will go outside, work and get cars bring them to this country, and then [because] they’re not able to pay taxes on them, the state finds a way of giving them out without proper value for money”, he told host, Benjamin Akakpo.

Dr Asah-Asante continued, “I don’t blame the judges because they’ll apply, and [because] they want the right things to be done, once you say it’s okay you can buy, they can.

But we have to look at the policy itself; whether it’s worth maintaining. I think this policy is moribund. It must be jettisoned and thrown into the lake of fire. We don’t need this”.

His comments were in connection with the recent Auditor-General’s report which indicated that at least 16 past and current judges of the Superior Courts were fingered for the purchase of state owned vehicles contrary to Regulation 158 of Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2378).

The regulation provides that the Principal Spending Officer of a covered entity shall obtain the prior written approval of the Minister for the transfer, exchange, sale, donation, contribution-in-kind, trust and any other disposal of any vehicles of the covered entity.

Regulation 158 also states that, any such disposal, lease and other action referred to in Sub-regulation 1 that is made without the written approval of the Minister, is void.

However, the report revealed that some judges, including recently retired Supreme Court judges, Yaw Appau and Julius Ansah as having acquired state-owned vehicles contrary to the provisions of this law.

The Auditor-General therefore wants the vehicles recovered.

Meanwhile, former President of the Association of Magistrates and Judges, Justice Victor Ofoe has jumped to the defence of his 16 colleagues fingered by the Auditor-General for unlawfully purchasing their official vehicles.

Justice Ofoe rather questions the work done by the Auditor-General saying he does not understand why the Auditor-General believes their actions are unlawful.

“I don’t know under what law he is talking about”, Justice Ofoe told JoyNews.

Justice Ofoe argued that the Auditor-General should have sought answers from the Chief of Staff; adding that the purchase of vehicles in such a manner is not new.

“Purchase of vehicles has been there for a long time not today. We applied, and they said sell, and we buy. If there is any wrong at all, we applied and they said sell to him. It is valued by the transport office and we pay”, Justice Ofoe stated.

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