Former Executive Director of anti corruption organisation, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Vitus Azeem wants the government to stay off the operations of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to enable it fight corruption in the country effectively.
The anti-graft campaigner believes the posture of EOCO in recent times indicate the government interferes in its activities and has resulted in the suppression of its staff.
His comments follow the suspension of the Eastern Regional Director of EOCO, Fred Dzeny for his comment that urged the President to show commitment towards fighting corruption by prosecuting corrupt officials within his government.
On the side-lines of a roundtable discussion held in Koforidua on the theme: “The Youth in the Fight Against Corruption in Ghana”, Mr. Dzeny opined that “the ruling government should be ready first and foremost to prosecute their own when the slightest incident of corruption is raised against the ruling government then they can also get the guts to prosecute the opposition.”
The comments, which sparked series of public debates on various social media patforms, did not go well with his bosses and resulted in his suspension.
Reacting to his comments, EOCO in a statement signed by its Executive Director, ACP K.K Amoah (Rtd) dissociated the organisation from the comment on grounds that “his personal view has nothing to do with the office”.
But Speaking on ‘Ete Sen?’ on Radio XYZ 93.1 on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Mr. Azeem questioned the moral justification for dismissing the Eastern Regional EOCO boss.
“He thinks that, that’s the way to go and that has warranted a suspension. That shows that there is no commitment. He is telling us what he in the field is experiencing so what is the basis for suspending him”? He quizzed.
Losing Corruption Fight
Mr Azeem further observed that, “For him (Mr Dzeny) and his colleagues, it means that they are being suppressed, it also shows that they are not independent; they cannot investigate cases the way they want. There is a clear indication of their being subjected to the government of the day.”
He indicated that the latest happenings at EOCO only means the government has lost the fight against corruption and bribery in the country, when host of the programme, Kwame Minkah, quizzed if he thought the government was doing well in the fight against corruption.
Although he acknowledged the setting up the office of the Special Prosecutor to tackle corruption, Mr Azeem said “there is still some hope but at least with the current happenings in this government, we can say all is lost with regards to this government’s commitment to fight against corruption because if this can happen to EOCO, what is the guarantee that it wouldn’t happen to the Special Prosecutor?”
He contends that perhaps this is a wake up call to all stakeholder bodies, civil society groups (CSOs) and the media to be loud in articulating their views on corruption and to “demonstrate” if need be to send a clear signal to government on the need to show commitment to fighting the social canker.