The immediate-past Chief Justice (CJ) of Ghana, Sophia Akuffo, has been making headlines after she joined retirees picketing at the Ministry of Finance in Accra over the government’s plan to involve their bonds in its Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).
Not only was her presence resounding, but the comments she made were even more outstanding, which have left many Ghanaians questioning the motivation behind her participation in the picketing.
Sophia Akuffo, who was appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, among other things, said that she is not willing to sacrifice to help get the country out of the current economic challenges unless she sees the government sacrificing too.
She even went on to threaten to sue the government if she is included in the DDEP.
Her strong words have left many asking why a former Chief Justice, who retired on her salary in addition to a huge ex-gratia, will take such actions against the government of the president who gave her the honour of leading the judiciary, the third arm of government.
Maybe, she is angered by the government’s lack of consideration for the elderly, as she said, but some Ghanaians on social media are saying that Sophia Akuffo is ‘pissed off’ by the quantum of infractions cited in the audit of the government’s COVID-19 expenditure by the Auditor General’s Department.
Aside from her appointment as CJ, President Akufo-Addo appointed Sophia Akuffo as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the COVID-19 Response Public Trust Fund, which the president set-up to help raise funds to complement the government’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
“We undertake to bear the charge you have placed on us with full integrity and efficiency so as to make sure that all our outcomes are transparent, they are quality and they fulfil the purpose for which the Trust is being set up,” Justice Rtd. Akuffo said after she took over her rule as chairperson.
But an audit report on Ghana’s COVID-19 expenditure showed that nearly 50 per cent of the money the state mobilised to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country was used for budget support, and not for issues related to the outbreak.
The report, which was prepared by the Auditor General Department, indicated that the government raised nearly GH¢22 billion, as of June 2022, to fight COVID-19 in Ghana through the Contingency Fund, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Union (EU).
However, out of the total amount raised to fight COVID-19, only about GH¢12 billion (a little over 50 per cent of the total funds raised) was used for activities geared toward fighting the spread of the virus and its impact in Ghana.
Aside from the fact that a huge amount of the monies raised to fight COVID-19 was not used for its intended purpose, the A-G’s report showed a lot of infractions in the monies used for COVID-19 by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).
The A-G’s report, for instance, disclosed that the Ministry of Health leased a building for 25 years for over GH¢15 million.
The report also stated that the ministry used over GH¢20 million to refurbish the building which was to serve as a COVID-19 isolation centre but was never used.
It also uncovered that the government paid, from March 2020 to June 2022, an amount of $80 million for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines. However, the vaccines have since not been delivered to the country.
The report said the Management of the Information Ministry and its support staff who are not health workers paid themselves an amount of GH¢151,500 as risk allowance for going to work in the wake of COVID-19.
In all of these, a number of social media users have flooded the internet to infer that one of the inspirations for Sophia Akuffo‘s participation in the picket was because of the above fallouts from the AG report.
Read some of the social media reactions below:
This is former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, picketing at the Finance Ministry. She is the Chair, Board of Trustees, for the Covid-19 National Trust Fund.
On what grounds is she picketing? How accountable was her Board on covid expenses? pic.twitter.com/MXrDaFJlXR
— The Journalist ?? ♊ (@Seddywills) February 10, 2023
Due to the uselessness of this @NAkufoAddo government with Bawumia as head of EMT, We have a former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo,an article 71 holder who retired on her salary protesting on this DDEP.@AnnanPerry @_kwekujay pic.twitter.com/eVwmBmkJll
— Yaw Eduful (@yaw_eduful_) February 10, 2023
Do you know that even on retirement, Former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo receives 40,000 cedis a month, A V8, and Police escort. All under Article 71 ?
You see why Ghana need new constitution to correct these wrongs ? pic.twitter.com/fVUduZ3x8G
— Isaac J.K Bediako (@ike_official1) February 10, 2023
21-gun salute for former CJ Sophia Akuffo & her courageous fellow senior citizens.
The Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/Ofori-Atta govt must now retrieve looted public funds from Cary Summers (GHS28.2million); David Adjaye (GHS152million); Frontiers (GHS1.5billion) & leave the aged alone. pic.twitter.com/WL0BaVKZc7
— Sam Okudzeto Ablakwa (@S_OkudzetoAblak) February 10, 2023