- Dr Awoonor-Williams was the Upper East Regional Director of the GHS from 2008 to 2015 and he was accused by the group of taking away five vehicles when he was reassigned to Accra.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has condemned a former Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, for usurping the powers of public institutions when he reversed the appointment of some regional health service directors in February 2015.
The condemnation was contained in a 71-page decision by CHRAJ after it had conducted investigations into allegations of corruption made by the Bolgatanga, Bongo, Nabdam and Talensi citizens (BONABOTO) against a former Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams.
Dr Awoonor-Williams was the Upper East Regional Director of the GHS from 2008 to 2015 and he was accused by the group of taking away five vehicles when he was reassigned to Accra.
While the commission exonerated Dr Awoonor-Williams of the allegation of corruption or the abuse of power in appropriating five official vehicles, it said the circumvention of laid down procedures on transfers and the transport policy of the GHS partly accounted for the furore over the missing vehicles.
In press releases between September and October 2016, BONABOTO accused Dr Awoonor-Williams of taking away five vehicles — a VW Passat, a Toyota Landcruiser, a Mitsubishi Pajero and two Toyota Hilux pick-ups — belonging to the Upper East Regional Health Directorate when he was re-assigned to Accra.
It also claimed that the then Director-General of the GHS, Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, had connived with Dr Awoonor-Williams for the vehicles to be appropriated.
The group’s concerns were carried on Ghanaweb, a Ghanaian Internet news portal, and attributed to a local FM station, Starrfmonline.
In its decision, CHRAJ found that the vehicles belonging to the regional health directorate could, indeed, not be accounted for when Dr Awoonor-Williams was transferred.
However, the vehicles had been re-assigned to him at the Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PPME) Unit at the GHS Head Office.
CHRAJ also found that the transport policy of the GHS was not fully followed before the vehicles were moved.
Dr Awoonor-Williams and Dr Appiah-Denkyira’s conduct was, however, found not to constitute an abuse of power or corruption.
However, the conduct of Dr Agyeman-Mensah and the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Limuna Mohammed Muniru, who bowed to pressure from a group in the Northern Region to appoint its prefered candidate as the Northern Regional Director of the GHS, was found to be the cause of the fallout.
CHRAJ found that when the position of Northern Regional Director of the GHS became vacant, some applicants were interviewed and one Dr Kofi Issah came tops and was appointed to the position.
Agitation came from a pressure group in Tamale in support of Dr Jacob Mahama, who was not successful at the interview, and Dr Issah could not take up the position in Tamale.
Dr Agyeman-Mensah issued a directive reversing Dr Issah’s appointment, moved Dr Awoonor-Williams to Accra for Dr Issah to take his place in Bolgatanga in order to retain Dr Mahama in the Northern Region.
For CHRAJ, it was unfortunate that the minister circumvented those who came tops in the interviews conducted by the Public Services Commission (PSC) for vacant positions and appointed those who did not make the mark, while shuffling out Dr Awonoor-Williams to make way for Dr Mahama, who was also interviewed but did not perform creditably.
“The commission, therefore, states in the strongest terms that interference with the public service should not be countenanced under any circumstance under this constitutional dispensation,” it said.
It said public office holders, particularly political appointees, were under obligation to continue to hold the public service with integrity.
It also charged all vigilante pressure groups, political, ethnic or religious, who were not part of the public service to desist from interfering with any activity to do with the public service.