The Deputy Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has declared his assets after The Fourth Estate’s report on defaulting leaders of parliament.
Official receipts from the Ghana Audit Service reveal that Afenyo Markin declared his assets on September 13, 2022, a day after it came to light that 10 out of the 13 leaders of parliament have failed to declare their assets.
The MP explained that his failure to declare was not deliberate but his initial misunderstanding of the law.
Hours before his declaration, the Deputy Majority Leader called the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Estate to expunge his side of the story, claiming he has already declared his assets and should not have his name there.
He further challenged the steps taken by The Fourth Estate to confirm from him whether he declared his assets before publishing the report.
When The Fourth Estate showed evidence of several attempts to get him to confirm or otherwise, the MP denied receiving any phone call, WhatsApp or text message on from the reporter. He said one of the three numbers were not his but he had stopped using the other two numbers to which The Fourth Estate sent him the SMS messages.
However, one of the numbers, which he claimed he had stopped using since June 2022 was the same number listed on the receipt issued by the Ghana Audit Service after he declared his assets in September 2022.
Mr Afenyo-Markin had declared his assets in 2017 but failed to declare in 2020 at end of his tenure as a member of the 7th Parliament. He also failed to declare his assets after assuming office as a member of the 8thparliament, when he became a leader of the majority side of the house.
He said he understood the law to mean that after declaring in 2017, he didn’t have to declare until he finally left parliament.
In a conference call with the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni, however, the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, explained to Mr. Afenyo-Markin that a member of parliament had to declare at the beginning and the end of the four years when parliament was dissolved. If one is re-elected, one is supposed to declare again.
Mr. Afenyo Markin then took steps to declare his assets and liabilities that same day.
None of the 10 other leaders of parliament have reached out since the report. It is also unclear whether they are taking steps to declare or not.
According to Act 550, Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification), public officers (including the members of parliament) are expected to declare their assets within six months in office and latest by six months after Parliament is dissolved.
The Fourth Estate wrote to the Audit Service on March 4, 2022, under the right to information (RTI) law, to request information on public office holders who had declared their assets from January 2013 up to 2022.
The Audit Service responded with the data on May 17, 2022. The information showed that a number of MPs, including a majority of their leaders, had not complied with the Asset Declaration Act.
Out of the 13 leaders, only three had declared their assets as mandated by the asset declaration law. The three are the Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin; the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu; and Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak.
All the three are members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).