A Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, is asking President Akufo-Addo to ensure the passage of the Right to Information Bill if he is indeed committed to fight corruption.
Ahmed Ibrahim says although the President has set up the Special Prosecutor Office, the institution will be ineffective without the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law.
Speaking to Citi News, the Banda legislator said without the Bill, the Special Prosecutor would find it difficult to access information for effective work to be done.
“Corruption is an activity which takes place in secrecy, and governance is such that everybody is asking for transparency and accountability. People do not just ask for accountability. Whoever is asking for accountability will first of all have to ask for transparency. If there is no transparency there can be no accountability. The 1992 constitution says that all Ghanaians must have Right to Information such as must be established by the laws of the country. From 1992, we have struggled and have not been able to do it. Even though we have not done that, we have certain structures or certain constitutional bodies that are created to fight corruption, but the inability to pass the Right to Information bill into law has always made certain corrupt activities to be hidden in secrecy.”
“ If you say you have passed the Special Prosecutor Bill, the Special Prosecutor is going to fight corruption based on the information and what if the information does not exist, who will give him that information? Is it not government? So if government passes the RTI, then every individual will use the RTI law to knock on every door when public money is being spent.”
Calls for RTI bill passage
There has been a rise in the number of calls for the RTI Bill to be passed after former Attorney General, Martin Amidu’s nomination as Special Prosecutor.
Some individuals including the General Secretary of National Democratic Congress (NDC), Asiedu Nketia, have argued that the Office of the Special Prosecutor will struggle to carry out its mandate without the RTI Bill.
According to Mr. Nketia, without the Bill, the Special Prosecutor will find it difficult to retrieve information, especially from government establishments.
“The most important Bill, even more important than the Special Prosecutor’s Office is the freedom to information Act. If someone comes with a complaint on a bloated price of a project, it will be difficult to crosscheck because if you request for it from government offices, they will tell you they can’t because of official secrecy. If you don’t bring the freedom of information Act, and ask the special prosecutor to do its job, you are going to complicate things for him,” he had earlier suggested.
About RTI bill
The RTI is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution, and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The Bill, as it has been drafted, is to also give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that, “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.”
Successive governments have however failed to ensure its passage despite several assurances.
Although the New Patriotic Party government has promised that the Bill will be passed under its tenure, it is unclear how soon that would be.
The Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, recently stated that Cabinet is yet to hold talks on the Bill before it can be brought back to Parliament for approval.
By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana