ATTORNEY GENERAL PAYS WORKING VISIT TO AGENCIES
In order to bring all hands on deck and appreciate at first hand, the core challenges plaguing the efficiency of agencies under her purview, the Attorney-General and Minister of justice Gloria Akuffo has interacted with the staffs of Legal Aid scheme; Council for Law Reporting, Registrar General’s Department and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO)in Accra.
In the face of budgetary constraints and inadequate staff, vehicles, office space and delays in the release of allowances, the sector minister commended efforts of these agencies and urged them to give priority to pressing needs with the resources available to them.
At the council for law reporting, the council’s Editor Joyce Oku mentioned difficulty in securing clearance from the Ministry of Finance – although the PSC had given its approval to recruit especially a store keeper and an information technology officer to build and manage a website for the council.
The Editor lamented over the only two vehicles the council have had to rely on for the past 20 years; the sorry state of garage; the unsightly exterior of office building – which had given the council cause to take pictures of the compound to the Ministry of Finance for help but to no avail and thus appealed to the sector minister for support.
Miss Akuffo, in her response to recruitment difficulty charged the council to send a reminder to the Ministry of Finance since the Public Services Commission (PSC) had already given clearance.
On inadequate lawyers, the A-G assured the situation might improve soon because she had requested the National Service Scheme (NSS) to post all lawyers who were yet to do their service to her office.
On the need for new vehicles, the A-G disclosed as per the President’s directive that, special procurement must be obtained.
On the payment of allowances, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department, Mr. Suleiman Ahmed said, he had written to Fair Wages and Salaries Commission explaining why the council must be paid those allowances.
The A-G consequently directed a reminder be sent to the Fair Wages Commission as soon as practicable, adding that, concerns of other staff members such as the need for a library and librarian should be duly captured in a work plan for the next financial year.
At the Legal Aid scheme, Mr. A.Y Seini the Executive Director of the scheme mentioned under staffing, inadequate office space and freeze of allowances as the main impediments in the way of justice delivery and implored the minister to help the Agency get the financial clearance for recruitment.
The A-G admitted she had foreknowledge of the challenges – having been a former Deputy Minister of the sector, adding “…before my appointment as the minister on the 27th February, 2017 I was the President’s representative in charge of governance and legal affairs…I’ve attended meetings in transition and have also had the privilege of leading a team in the sector to budget hearings..Hence not oblivious of challenges bedeviling provision of legal aid to especially the poor.”
Miss Akuffo pledged to do all she could – together with the Solicitor General and Chief Director – to map out strategies to minimize the woes of the sector.
When requested to get non-lawyers in addition to lawyers who would be rendering paralegal services to the Legal Aid Scheme however, the A-G said the non-availability of allowances for that category could be a hindrance.
The sector minister’s entourage included the deputy A-G and minister of Justice, lawyer Godfred Damie, Mrs. Pennina Dankwa – special assistant to the Minister – the Chief Director, Mr. Suleiman Ahmed, the Solicitor General Ziwu and Messrs. Joe Addo Tuffour and Faisal Haruna Abdul-Rahman of the Public Relations Unit.