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11.03.2009 General News

Acting DPP to head SFO -but senior management pledge to resist move

By The Statesman

Reliable information gathered by The Statesman indicates that Gertrude Aikins, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions at the Attorney-General's Office, has been appointed as the new Acting Executive Director of the Serious Fraud Office.

According to our source at the A-G"s Department, her appointment is in response to a letter written to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice by management of the SFO in relation to the departure of the former Acting Executive Director, Edward Agyemang Duodu.

However, our checks at the SFO reveal that almost all senior management of the SFO are up in arms and have sworn to resist this move or frustrate her.

Our source said until such a time as President John Evans Atta Mills appoints a substantive Executive Director to the SFO, Ms Aikins will have full responsibility for the day to day management of the office, and under the circumstances, senior management staff operating under the administrative arrangement prior to September 19, 2008, are to report to Ms Aikins.

Confirming the new appointment, a source at the SFO told The Statesman that they received a letter dated March 3 from the A-G's office to that effect. He however stated emphatically that they [staff of the SFO] will resist this move.

He said they will not cooperate with her.
To him, the issue of an authority vacuum at the SFO referred to by the A-G's Department as the basis for appointing a new head for the SFO was a non starter.

He queried whether the absence of the Chief Justice means there is an authority vacuum in the judiciary, indicating "that by the Public Service rule, the most senior member of an organisation takes charge in the absence of the head'.

He pointed out that the SFO is not an extension of the A-G's Department and therefore cannot continue to be treated as superior by sending its staff to head the SFO.

He said: 'If Ms Gertrude Aikins wants to work at the SFO she must resign at the A-G's Department before taking over, so that if things do not work out she would not run back to the A-G's office to take up her former post leaving us dry'.

He further pointed out that 'The SFO has the power to investigate staff of the A-G's Department and even the Minister and therefore should be treated seriously and not as an extension of the A-G's Department'.

He added, 'When the IGP resigns, the Minister of Interior does not appoint someone from his Ministry to head the police, but the second in command takes charge until a substantive IGP is appointed by the appropriate bodies'.

Another source from the SFO suspected that Ms Aikins appointment to the SFO was to enable her implement a directive from the A-G's Department that Theophilus Codjoe, who was transferred from the SFO to the A-G's Department as a policy advisor on corruption in August last year, be placed on the SFO's salary roll with all conditions of service due him.

According to him, since the issuance of that directive by the A-G's Department, management of the SFO has continued to resisted its implementation.