The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, CHRAJ, has been petitioned to investigate the payment of allowances to current and former First and Second Ladies at the time their spouses were in power.
The petitioners also want the allowances paid to the sitting and former first ladies to be refunded.
“Specific reference is made to 2009 to 2016, since the practice of paying sitting First and Second Ladies started after the 4th Parliament of the 4th Republic,” the petition said.
The petitioners, who identify themselves as individuals with an interest in governance, politics, constitutionalism, and rule of law, are Keskine Owusu Poku, Victor Osei-Poku, and Michael Essel-Mills.
They have been moved by controversies emanating from the Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu Presidential Emolument Committee’s report, which recommended emoluments for First and Second Ladies.
Currently, the sitting First and Second Ladies have committed to refunding all monies given to them as allowances from 2017 to date, and also decline the Committee’s proposals, although it had been approved by Parliament. The First Lady has since announced paying her allowances.
In line with this, the petitioners feel allowances given to previous First and Second Ladies, especially under the National Democratic Congress government from 2009, ought to be retrieved and paid to the Consolidated Fund.
The First and Second Ladies between 2009 and 2016 were Ernestina Naadu Mills, Lordina Mahama, and Matilda Amissah-Arthur.
Ernestina Naadu Mills served as First Lady from January 7, 2009, to July 24, 2012, when she lost her husband, the Late J.E.A. Mills.
Lordina Mahama was the Second Lady from January 7, 2009, to July 24, 2012.
She assumed the First Lady portfolio with the swearing-in of her husband, John Mahama, and continued in this capacity till the eve of January 6, 2017.
Matilda Amissah-Arthur became the Second Lady on July 24, 2012, and served in this position till the eve of January 6, 2017.
Because Matilda Amissah-Arthur and Ernestina Naadu Mills have been widowed, the petitioners concede that they “are safely covered by the humanitarian principle.”
“The only odd one out is Mrs. Lordina Mahama who served through the 8 years of the Mills-Mahama-Amissa-Arthur administration from 2009 to 2016,” they added.
The petitioners noted that former President Mahama has already admitted that allowances of First and Second Ladies are already covered under the budget of the Office of the President.
“We contend that there is no legal basis for including them and any related activity of theirs in the budget of the Office of the President,” the petitioners said in response to this.
“Secondly, the Office of the President is a public office and at no time has the First and Second Lady portfolios been a department of the Office of the President. It is therefore untenable to advance taxpayers’ money meant for the Office of the President to a First or Second Lady,” they added.
Thus, the petitioners want CHRAJ to:
a. Investigate the legal propriety of the payment of allowances to wives of incumbent Presidents and Vice Presidents, and demand a refund if found inappropriate;
b. Investigate a possible case of conflict of interest in the determination of the amount paid as allowances to incumbent First and Second Ladies at the time of payment;
c. A disclosure of the entire amount paid to all sitting First and Second Ladies (on an individual basis) from 2009 to 2021; and
d. Make consequential orders and recommendations for the consideration of the State. – CNR