Wednesday, 26 October 2016
EOCO Directive Over Campaign Funds Investigation
The Economic and Organised Crime Office, otherwise known as EOCO has received mixed reactions from a section of the public following its invitation to some political party leaders to disclose their sources of funds for their political activities. According to a Daily Graphic publication, EOCO wants Hassan Ayariga of the All People`s Congress [APC] to explain where he got the $6 million he claimed to have expended on his campaign. Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party [PPP], on the other hand, is being asked to explain the source of the GH¢1,000,750 that he paid for himself and the parliamentary candidates of the PPP as filing fees. This is no doubt a move in the right direction. It is important that relevant state agencies are allowed to investigate the sources of funds of everybody who flaunts wealth especially if they are not known to be engaged in any serious business that can give them that kind of wealth. We are in a country where we worship the wealthy without questioning their sources of wealth. Politics is not a business neither is it supposed to be a money making enterprise yet people are so eager and willing to expend so much money on it. The troubling reality is that some of the candidates are well known and their income levels are also known, yet they spend so much on election activities. It is true that candidates and political parties are at liberty to raise funds to finance their activities, except to say that foreigners are precluded from financing political parties in Ghana.
The political parties law require parties to furnish the EC with their audited accounts, proceeds from party dues and other incomes as well as their expenditure regularly but the parties hardly comply with it. Unfortunately, the EC has over the years failed to crack the whip on defaulting parties. The declaration of assets is another law which is flouted by candidates and public officers with pompous impunity. The decision by EOCO to intervene in ascertaining the sources of funds for some of these political parties and their leaders is therefore welcoming. Under the EOCO Act, Act 804 of 2010, it is authorised to monitor and investigate economic and organised crime and on the authority of the Attorney - General prosecute these offences to recover the proceeds of crime and provide for related matters. Some of the offences to be investigated by EOCO are money laundering, tax fraud, and other serious offences. The office is also mandated to recover the proceeds of crime and take reasonable measures necessary to prevent the commission of such crimes and their correlative offences.
The current EOCO investigation will therefore not only unravel the sources of funds for the two candidates but also determine whether they have discharged their tax obligations to the state. Many people, especially politicians in opposition are quick to accuse government of corruption, financial malfeasance and wanton dissipation of tax payers’ money, yet they do not pay tax. The good saying has it that, he who calls for equity must come with clean hands. It is sad that some people are accusing the government of the day of using EOCO and other state agencies to harass its opponents. The situation where every state institution is politicised is not the best. It is retarding and must not be encouraged. We must allow state institutions to work and work effectively.
A case can however be made that, the EOCO should not and ought not limit its investigations to only the PPP and APC. The office must do well to invite all the other political parties and their leaders, especially the two leading ones. These are parties that suffocate for cash in opposition but become opulent and flamboyant overnight when they win power. The question is how do they make their money when they are in government and are not able to do so in opposition? Let this move by EOCO be the beginning of a new dawn of unravelling the mystery surrounding the wealth of the rich in our society.
BY BUBU KLINOGO, A JOURNALIST.