It was Friday, December 30, 2016, when former President John Dramani Mahama sworn in Daniel Yao Domelevo as Auditor-General, making it Mahama’s last appointment and swearing-in of a public servant before he exited office.
Mr Domelevo had given up his lucrative job as a Senior Financial Management Specialist at the World Bank to serve his beloved country as a public servant; a country which has now paid him with among other things, the currency of forced accumulated leave, questioned citizenship and forced retirement.
Having worked at the Accountant-General’s Department for well over two decades, Mr Domelevo was very much aware of the leakages and the massive corruption plaguing the public sector and the public purse.
His mandate as he indicated in his acceptance speech was simple and unambiguous:
“I want to create a system that prevents the misappropriation of public funds”, he said.
Mr Domelevo would execute this to perfection even in the face of stern opposition, intimidation and vilification. He went to work immediately after his swearing-in and would soon earn the anger of those prospering on the spoils of the state. By going after corrupt officials and stinking deals, he was dancing on the heads of serpents. Serpents, the former special prosecutor said are being led and supervised by a “mother serpent of corruption.”
The kick-out plot
After the details of shady deals such as the PDS fracas, Agyapa Royalties rip off, Kroll Associates etc. were made public, the heat for the melt out of Mr Domelevo commenced with intensed passion and each passing day was a time fine enough to kick him out of office. He was the last man standing in the fight against corruption after the Office of the Special Prosecutor was deliberately or so it seemed rendered dormant and ineffective and SP, Martin Alamisi Burnes Kaiser Amidu could no longer burn.
In protecting and treating the national purse back to health, Mr Domelevo in 2018 in one of his many attempts to recover funds for the state, surcharged then Senior Minister Osafo Maafo for superintending over the payment of some US$1 million (the equivalent of GHS 4,890,000.00) to Kroll Associates by the Ministry of Finance for no work done. This would be the very magic stone to kick the Auditor-General out real quick.
Through the Public Procurement Authority, under the leadership of its former disgraced boss, AB Adjei, who sold contracts for cash, the Senior Minister used a single-source procurement process to acquired the services of Kroll in 2017 to “recover assets from identified wrongdoers, investigate allegations of wrongdoing, provide evidence for assets recoveries, build capacity for the transfer of skills, give advice on preventative techniques and structures to detect and forestall future corruption.” This sweet terms of the contract would turn only to be one of the many ways of signing off cheques for personal keep and share. The terms of the contract are sweet and smart, except they were nothing than a fanfare contained in a book.
By surcharging the then Senior Minister and four others meant touching one of the untouchables.
Implementation of the plot
The day of reckoning and victory for corruption and the corrupt came in a letter issued by Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the Office of the President directing Mr Domelevo to proceed on leave effective July 1, 2020, a leave the letter stated had accumulated to 123 days. This came at a time the public purse seemed to be recuperating perfectly fine due to the unfriendly conditions Mr Domelevo treated corruption with. He had commissioned investigations into the misappropriation of funds perpetuated by a substantial number of high ranked politicians and government appointees.
Mr Domelevo replied to the president’s letter cautioning him of breaching the constitution. A week after his reply, the accumulated leave days were miraculously extended to 167 days.
Mr Johnson Akuamah Aseidu, the Deputy Auditor-General was therefore put in an acting AG position until the return of Mr Domelevo which would never come. The forced leave was only but a tactic to say goodbye to a selfless anti-corruption crusader and a staunch keeper of the country’s purse, and a welcome for corruption fanatics willing to milk every pint of milk left in the lean cow.
In a twist of many faces, colours and names, the acting Auditor-General, Mr Johnson Akuamah Aseidu, in a letter dated July 2, 2020, barely a day after Mr Domelevo went on leave, to the Senior Minister stated he was satisfied with documents tendered in for prove of work done by Kroll Associates. Obviously, the power of forced leave. Same documents it had taken more than two years for the Senior Minister to prove, took less than twenty-four hours for satisfaction of quiry after the forced ejection of due diligence.
While Mr Domelevo was on his push out leave, efforts were still being made to dent him and to ensure he does not spend even a day at the Service after his leave has ended.
Prof Edward Dua Agyemang, Board Chair of the Audit Service, alleged that Mr Domelevo had taken monies and wrote to him to return an amount of $4,020.00 that was released to him as accountable imprest during his foreign travel in March and April 2018.
Mr Domelevo replied in writing to Prof Edward Dua Agyemang, pointing it out to him to stop usurping the mandate of other legally constituted bodies.
“Read Sections 2(3) and 7 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016 and you will realise that the mandate you and the board purport to have under the Audit Service Regulations 2011 (CI 70) is that of the Principal Spending Officer- hence I am not accountable to you…that said, not even a pesewa is outstanding against me for any advance or imprest that I took for any of my travels,” he added.
When that did not wash, the Audit Service Board took a decision to change the lock to Mr Domelevo’s office two weeks into his leave without informing him. No one on the Board gave him any answers as to the reason for the change.
The forever plot
The plot to finally kick Mr Domelevo out came in a letter dated February 27, 2021 from the chairman of the Audit Service Board, Prof. Edward Dua Agyeman.
The Audit Service Board in the letter challenged the nationality and retirement age of Mr Domelevo.
The board said Mr. Domelevo is a Togolese and was born in 1960 and not the June 1, 1961 date he filed in his 1978 SSNIT registration form and was therefore due for retirement on June 1 last year.
The letter alleged that, “Records at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) completed and signed by you indicate your date of birth as 1st June 1960 when you joined the scheme on 1st October 1978. The records show that you stated your tribe as Togolese and a non-Ghanaian. That your home town is Agbatofe.” It further requested an explanation for the alleged inconsistencies.
So, in his written response to the letter, Mr Domelevo said his grandfather, Martin Domelevo Tettey was a native of Ada in the Greater Accra region who migrated to Togo at a point in his life and stayed at Agbatofe.
He responded saying, his father Augustine Domelevo, migrated from Togo to the then Gold Coast after living there for a while.
“Either my father wrongly mentioned Agbatofe in Togo as his home town to me, or I misconstrued it at the time.” Unable to recollect exactly what he filled in those forms, said if he so stated Togolese, then, “it is certainly a mistake because Togolese is not and has never been the name of my tribe,” he explained.
On his true date of birth, Mr. Domelevo said he noticed that the 1960 date of birth was a mistake “when I checked my information in the baptismal register of the Catholic Church in Adeemmra.”
He fielded in the telephone number of Rev. Fr Dion, the Parish Priest at the Catholic Church in Adeemmra for any member of the public to call for verification.
But as a Board that is bent on achieving a non-negotiable aim of kicking Mr Domelevo out by any means necessary, in a letter dated March 2, 2021, said Mr. Domelevo’s explanation of his nationality and narration of his grandfather’s migration is irrelevant.
“Observation of your responses and explanations contained in your above reference letter make your date of birth and Ghanaian nationality even more doubtful and clearly establishes that you have made false statements contrary to law.”
The 167-day leave came to an end on March 2, 2021, and Mr Domelevo returned to his post as the Auditor-General on March 3, 2021. But this was not without further controversy.
Barely 16 hours after Mr Domelevo’s return, the president in a statement directed him to proceed on retirement citing the Audit Service Board allegations of he being a Togolese and altering his date of birth.
The statement reads in part, “The attention of the President of the Republic has been drawn to records and documents made available to this Office by the Audit Service, that indicate that your date of birth is 1st June, 1960, and that in accordance with article 199 (1) of the Constitution, your date of retirement as Auditor-General was 1st June, 2020.”
The statement explained that “based on this information, the President is of the view that you have formally left office.”
The big push has finally happened. It is left on Mr Domelevo on how to leap and land safely.
The man who cleared the Senior Minister of any wrongdoing in the Kroll Associates thievery, Mr Johnson Akuamah Aseidu, has once again been asked to act in the absence of Mr Domelevo.
The clearing house agent is once again in charge to continue the clearing curve.
By Kaba Atawoge|Contributor
The author is a graduate of Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). Views expressed in this article are entirely the author’s and do not in any way reflect those of the Media General Group or any of its affiliates.