A seven-member panel of justices of the Supreme Court, yesterday, ordered the Auditor General, to, as a matter of urgency, begin the process of surcharging persons found to have misappropriated state funds.
This follows a suit filed by Occupy Ghana in June 2016, seeking an order to direct the Auditor-General to issue disallowances and surcharges to, and in respect of, all persons and entities found in relevant, successive reports to have engaged in misappropriation of state funds.
The seven-member panel of justices, presided over by incoming Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, however, did not give reasons for their judgment, but indicated that they will make available the full details of the decision later in the day.
Even though at the time of writing this piece the full details of the SC's decision had not been made public, The Chronicle believes that the decision is in the right direction, and all right-thinking Ghanaians must support it.
It appears in recent times that the embezzlement or misappropriation of state funds has become endemic among public and civil servants, who have been placed in positions of trust.
Perhaps, because those who are found to have embezzled state funds are allowed to go scot free, with excuses such as 'to err is human' and 'I'm sorry', among others, many people find it prudent to dip their hands into state coffers with impunity.
Reports of public and civil servants stealing state funds on the airwaves across the length and breadth of the country have become a daily occurrence, which has infuriated some public-spirited individuals and groups, who are determined to do whatever it takes to retrieve the monies.
It is estimated that monies public and civil servants have stolen, from the era of former President Jerry John Rawlings to John Dramani Mahama, amounts to about GHȼ112 billion, close to the total amount of GHȼ127 billion which Ghana owes as a sovereign state.
It is against this backdrop that Occupy Ghana; a local-based pressure group, filed a suit at the Supreme Court in 2016, seeking an order to direct the Auditor-General to issue disallowances and surcharges to, and in respect of, all persons and entities who have been implicated in its successive reports to have misappropriation state funds.
According to the Occupy Ghana, it sued the Auditor General because he refused to surcharge persons who are said to have misappropriated state funds to the tune of over GHȼ40 billion.
To this end, the pressure group, in 2014, wrote a letter to the Auditor General's office, reminding it to surcharge such persons or face them (Occupy Ghana ) in court.
A statement issued by the pressure group said it filed a case against the Auditor General at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, because several efforts to ensure that the Auditor General makes such surcharges had proved futile.
Less than a month ago, a team from the Multi-Media Group, led by Captain Smart, host of the flagship programme of the Adom FM morning show, Edwaso Nsem, organised a mammoth demonstration dubbed 'Yeregye Ye Sika'.
The intention of the demonstrators was to make public their intent to retrieve monies believed to have been embezzled by some public and civil servants over the years.
The Chronicle believes the order of the Supreme Court has come at an opportune time, especially, at a time when all Ghanaians are calling on the government to recover all state funds found to have been misappropriated by egocentric individuals.
The Auditor General must be given the teeth to bite hard enough, to deter other people from developing the necessary appetite for the consumption of state funds at any level.
This, to The Chronicle, is the only way greedy and self-centered individuals could be made to stay away from touching state funds, or better still, make it a no-go-zone for such people.