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24.08.2004 General News

Government would curb institutional corruption - Jake

By GNA

Ho, Aug 24, GNA - Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and the Modernisation of the Capital City, on Monday declared the government's commitment to curb institutional corruption in the country.

He said the expunging of the Criminal Libel Laws to allow for an enquiring press, the increase in resources to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) within the past three and half years were tangible proof of the government's attitude towards corruption.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was addressing the opening of the week long 10th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Episcopal Conference of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA) of the Catholic Church, in Ho. About 70 Bishops are attending the Conference under the theme "Good Governance in West Africa, The Role of the Church" from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Liberia.

Mr Obestsebi-Lamptey who represented President John Agyekum Kufuor said it was expected that the new procurement laws and a more efficient Audit Service would help stem the canker of corruption.

He said with these policies, government had put the weapon for fighting corruption in the hands of the people and repeated President Kufuor's pledge not to ignore any proven act of corruption. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey observed that while historical circumstances of the country made the notion of "believing the worst of public officials not surprising, it was not right".

He said the due process of investigation must be allowed to prove corruption allegations and urged the people to refrain from condemning in public what they do in private.

Mr Obetsebi-Lampey described democracy as the foundation of accountability in government, and observed that illegality in government could bring distress onto a nation.

He expressed the hope that the deliberations of the conference would increase the functional role of the Church as a body and as individual members, to ensure good governance in Africa.

The Most Reverend Dr John Olurunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja and President of AECAWA, expressed joy at the peaceful transition from one government to another in Ghana and Senegal, at the time the political scene in other parts of the sub-region was not the best. He said there was the need to increase cooperation between the French and English speaking Conference of Bishops of countries in the sub-region to speak with one voice on important issues affecting the area.

Most Rev. Dr Onaiyekan said the Catholic Church was studying the possibility of "stretching our hands not only to other Christian groups around us but also to the followers of Islam.

"The hope is that it would then be possible to allow religion to offer its own positive impact on the affairs of our sub-region", he added.

He said the Catholic Church was to increase participation in tertiary education since it was at that level that "the elite and leaders are formed and launched unto the society".

The Most Reverend Francis Lodonu, Bishop of Ho, urged intellectuals in Africa to strive to search for ways of ensuring good governance within an African context.

Mr Kwasi Owusu-Yeboa, Volta Regional Minister, said the timing of the Conference only four months to elections in Ghana was most welcome. He observed that the proverbial core teaching of Christianity, which was Christian love for one another, embodied all the standard values and principles of good governance.

Archbishop George Kochery, Papal Nuncio to Ghana, in a message from Pope John Paul II, called on the participants to work towards an end to all forms of injustice in the society.

Togbe Afede, XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli, urged the Churches to impress on the people to tolerate the views of others since it was inevitable that opinions would differ on issues. He said that tribalism, greed and selfishness remained the bane of African countries in their attempt to ensure good governance.

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