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05.04.2006 General News

Eva Lokko Fights Back

By Chronicle

After a cursory study of a request for the withdrawal of the audit report on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), dated December 30th 2005 by Mrs. Eva Lokko, the stepped-aside Director-General of the GBC, the Auditor-General, Edward Dua Agyemang, has come to her rescue.

Accordingly, he has noted, "It will be improper and premature therefore to use any part of the Auditor-General's report on the investigations into the operations of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation for the period January 2001 to October 2005 for any purpose whatsoever without the responses in respect of the phase two (second interim report)".

In the Auditor-General's report, he noted among other things that "the management submitted responses to our observations in the first interim report but could not provide any responses to the observations raised in the second interim report because the Director-General has been denied access to the office where the necessary documents were kept" hence the decision on the second interim report was inconclusive.

The Auditor-General also stated that "whenever management is able to submit responses to our phase two observations, we shall issue a supplementary report to cover the issues raised and make the appropriate recommendations".

On February 2, 2006, Mrs. Lokko wrote to the Auditor-General, registering her strong protest against the release of the said report, stressing that the decision to request for the withdrawal of that report was purely based on the fact that "the report violates due process, natural justice and normal audit procedure" since according to her, "it contained allegations and findings that were never presented to me even as queries and makes observations and recommendations that are highly prejudicial to my professional and public standing without having given me a chance to response before publication".

This, she said, would allow her to respond to relevant audit queries and observations as per the original terms of reference in order to ensure the completion of what she called, 'professional, objective, transparent and fair audit of GBC'.

The report recommended that "although the theft of the ¢1,142,432,200 is still under investigation, both the Director-General and the OIC-Finance should be held negligent for not taking proper care and custody of the GBC chequebooks".

On the recommendation that both the DG and the OIC-Finance should be held responsible for being negligent in the handling of cheque books, Mrs. Lokko said that it was "highly prejudicial and should not occur in an impartial audit process that draws conclusions only after establishing all the facts" since "the report confirms this prejudice by omitting relevant facts, including the most important-the fact that the Director-General does not keep chequebooks".

Also, the report recommended that management of GBC should be held responsible for the ¢26.45million paid for the purchase of election software in 2004 that was not used, but according to the stepped-aside Director-General, "the software and service was rented and not purchased" as alleged, indicating that it was used for news and discussion programmes that were broadcast nationwide during the election period.

According to Mrs. Lokko, this gives an impression of a possible wrongdoing. She said the account has been and continues to be used successfully to ensure that staff salaries are paid on time, pending the release to GBC of the government subvention each month.

In this regard, Mrs. Lokko claims that since she assumed office in September 2002, she has repeatedly requested a forensic audit as an integral part of establishing transparency, accountability and efficiency in GBC.

She goes on to say that in 2002/3 commencement of an audit was prevented only by a disagreement between the GBC board and the national media commission.