The Jirapa directorate of National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has cautioned that Ghana’s democracy would be under threat if comprehensive action is not taken to empower citizens to deal with acts of corruption.
Despite many laws and anti-graft institutions created to fight the menace, NCCE also warned that failure to create an enabling platform for citizens to understand issues of corruption and frown upon it as a social evil could affect Ghana’s image badly. Mr Ambaahikpiengu Norbert, Jirapa Municipal Director of NCCE told the people of Konzokalla at a durbar in the municipality that: “Ghana’s democracy would continue to suffer if corruption is not properly tackled through accountability, participation and rule of law,”
The NCCE organised the durbar in collaboration with the European Union (EU) to educate Konzokalla community members on the country’s Whistle-Blowers Act (Act 720 of 2006).
The meeting formed part of EU’s sponsored “Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Project” which is aimed at tackling corruption and its related concerns. It tried to create a platform for people to understand issues about corruption, its effects and the role of citizens in fighting it.
Mr Norbert wondered why the country had many laws and ant-graft institutions mandated to tackle corruption, but citizens failed to apply the laws or join the fight for the good of society.
He encouraged community members to report acts of corruption to Economic and Organised Crime Office, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and the Police among other established anti-corruption bodies, for redress. He told the chiefs and landlords not to take “pittance from galamsey operators and allow them” to degrade the lands and natural resources.
The Municipal Director of CHRAJ, Mr Yakubu Sabutu, explained basic aspects of the whistle Blowers Act to participants, stressing: “The introduction of the Act is one of the ways to encourage reports on wrong behaviors”.
He added, “It is a key to ending corruption and improving lives”.
The Whistle Blowers Act was enacted to help fight corruption mostly in state institutions.
It provides protection for victimisation of people who report acts of corruption, both internally and externally.
Mr Sabutu, therefore, assured the people not to fear to report, “True corrupt acts as their identities will not be disclosed”.
He said there were some benefits that persons who made disclosures could get, but did not make mention of any specific benefit.
He urged community members to use the Act and other avenues to report issues of fraud, bribery, award of contracts to friends and relatives through unfair means. The Municipal Police Commander, DSP David A. Mensah, said “the police are citizen’s friends” who are always there to protect life and property but not to exploit them.
He urged citizens to cooperate with the police for solutions to crime including corruption.
He justified why police were perceived as corrupt, saying: “It is the perception of the public that the police are corrupt, this is not the case”.
“It is rather the public that forces money on the police, especially drivers because they think they will always waste time”.
He also disclosed that there were middlemen (civilians, “Gobetweeners”) in the system who claimed they were friends of the police and demanded money from unsuspecting people with cases at the police station to “see” and “solve” them.
The public was advised to contact the police directly for solution to their cases and report any police officer or person (civilian) that engaged in corrupt acts.