The suit is the latest twist in the brouhaha at the Audit Service where the Auditor-General has been accused of sidelining members of the Audit Service Board based on his interpretation of Article 187 of the 1992 Constitution.
The plaintiff, Isaac Wilberforce Mensah, a journalist and private legal practitioner, in the writ, stressed the need for constitutional interpretation to clearly establish the lines of authority and the degree of independence of the Auditor-General, who has promised not to abide by any decision taken by the Audit Service Board.
He wants a declaration by the apex court that the independence of the Auditor-General as guaranteed by the constitution, as well as, his duties do not include the appointment and transfer of staff at the Audit Service.
There is a seeming bad blood between Mr. Domelevo and the Audit Service Board, and both sides have written several petitions to the president calling for intervention.
The parties are making counter allegations against each other which clearly indicates that all is not well at the Audit Service.
Mr. Domelovo has been accused of usurping the powers of the Audit Service Board by appointing and transferring staff of the Audit Service without consulting it.
The private citizen is seeking an interpretation that will settle the matter and restore confidence in the Audit Service, which plays a very crucial role in the fight against corruption.
In his writ, the plaintiff averred that the Auditor General had vowed to continue the appointment and transfer of staff at the Audit Service in contravention of Articles 189 and 297 of the Constitution and the Audit Service Act 2000 (Act 584).
This, the plaintiff revealed, is contained in an email Mr. Domelevo sent to the Chairman of the Audit Service Board, Prof. Edward Dua Agyeman, in which he states that “I am unable to obey the decision [of the Board] that posting of staff within the Audit Service is the Board’s mandate. In consultation with the Deputy Auditors-General, I will continue posting staff without reference to the board.”
This declaration by the Auditor-General, according to the plaintiff, is unconstitutional, as Article 187 does not give him the power to appoint or transfer staff of the Audit Service but rather that responsibility is vested in the board.
The plaintiff, therefore, wants a declaration that “upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 189(2) and (3) and Article 297 of the Constitution and section 3(1) and (2) and section 4 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), the appointment of officers and other employees in the Audit Service, other than the Auditor-General, shall be made by the Audit Service Board, acting in consultation with the Public Services Commission and is to that extent, the sole and exclusive preserve of the Audit Service Board.”
He also wants a declaration that “upon a true and proper interpretation of the relevant clauses of Article 187, particularly clauses 2, 3, 4 and 8 of the 1992 Constitution and the relevant sections of the Audit Service Act of 2000 (Act 584, particularly sections 10 and 11 thereof, the functions of the Auditor-General, the performance of which he shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority as provided for in Article 187(7), do not include the appointment of employees.”
Again, Mr. Wilberforce Mensah wants a declaration that “the decision by the Auditor-General and his subsequent postings of officers and other employees in senior management positions in the Audit Service without reference or recourse to the approval of the Audit Service Board is a breach of Article 189(2) and (3) and Article 297 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 4(1) (c) and (d) of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584).”
Apart from the appointment and transfer of staff, the plaintiff, in his writ, prayed the court to determine whether the absence of the Auditor-General at board meeting- deliberate or genuine- renders such meetings null and invalidates decisions taken at such meetings as being championed by Mr. Domelevo.
“A declaration that the deliberate refusal of the Auditor-General to attend Board meetings with the view to rendering decisions taken at such meetings invalid is wrongful; and that his deliberate absence from board meetings without justifiable excuse does not invalidate decisions taken at such board meetings.”
The plaintiff is also seeking a consequential declaration that in the absence of the Auditor-General for any just cause, the person acting as the Auditor-General for the time being is clothed with the authority to attend such meetings with full powers of the Auditor-General.”
The interpretation, the plaintiff averred, is very necessary and crucial at this time to draw the lines of authority of the board and the Auditor-General’s independence for the future guidance of the Audit Service and the country.
Attached to the writ are Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the Audit Service Board and Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Afua Akuffo.