Refund The Money...Police Told

Eighty-six policemen who, out of the ignorance of a judge, received a total of ¢3.1 billion as compensation from a circuit court, have been ordered to refund the money.

The directive from the Public Accounts Com¬mittee (PAC) of Parliament at its sitting in Accra Friday to consider the Auditor-General's Report, said the practice of paying such compen¬sation from fines imposed by the courts was improper.

The PAC further directed that should any portion of the amount become irrevocable, the judge and the registrar of the court concerned should be called upon to make good the shortfall.At the sitting, officials of the Judicial Service were queried over missing transcripts; cash shortage and the payment of compensation to policemen.According to the Chairman of the PAC, Mr. Sallas-Mensah, an audit of fines imposed by the Circuit Court B3 in Accra between August 2002 and August 2004 found that the court presided over by Justice Emmanuel Ankamah, had imposed a fine of ¢5.2 billion on motor traffic offenders.

He said out of the total amount of fines imposed on offenders, ¢3.1 billion or 59% was paid as compensation to 86 policemen who prosecuted the cases in the court.“Payments to individual policemen ranged between ¢200,000 and ¢1.4 million, while the Judicial Service legitimately retained 15% of the total fines for administrative expenses and the remaining 26% paid into the Consolidated Fund as revenue,” he said.

The report, the Chairman pointed out, attributed the irregularity to the ignorance of the judge of the repeal of the previous legislation which sanctioned such payments.He said the report further noted that the number of traffic offences referred to the court for prosecution was an average 668 per month from August 2002 to August 2004.Mr.

Sallas-Mensah explained that when the Auditor-General’s Department started the audit in 2004, it directed that the payment of compensation be discontinued, since it was improper.“The number of motor traffic offences sent to the Circuit Court B3 reduced from 668 per month to 84 cases per month from September 2004.This suggests that the policemen could be adjudicating the traffic offences themselves. We are liaising with the Police Administration to resolve this issue,” he said.He said the report also uncovered that at the Agona Swedru High Court in the Central Region, between April and October 2005, unearned salaries totaling ¢5 million were paid to two members of staff, namely Miss Emelia Forson and Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, because of the inability of management and the Controller and Accountant General’s (CAG’s) Office to promptly delete the names of the officers from the payroll.“We drew their bankers’ attention to the irregularity but noted that only ¢1.4 million was in Miss Forson’s bank account at the Awutu Beraku Rural Bank, while the unearned salary of ¢1.7 million had been withdrawn by Mr. Iddrisu,” he said.

The PAC Chairman said the report advised the Judicial Service to ensure that the remaining amount of ¢1.4 million in Miss Forson’s account was transferred into the CAG’s Suspense Account, while steps were taken to retrieve the ¢1.7 million withdrawn by Mr. Iddrisu.Responding to some of the queries, Judicial Secretary, Madam Regina Abotsi, said the service had taken notice of the development and had, therefore, put in place a number of interventions to forestall its recurrence.

Members of the committee expressed their displeasure over the delay in the establishment of the Financial Administration Tribunal as provided for in the Financial Administration Act, 2003, and questioned why the Judiciary had not made it a priority. In response, Madam Abotsi said efforts were being made to establish the tribunal, adding that at the moment, the issue was in the domain of the Attorney General. Source: Daily Graphic

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