Three private Ghanaian citizens have petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to look into the payment of allowances to past and present presidential spouses between 2009 and 2016 during the tenure of their husbands.
They are demanding all such money be refunded by the beneficiaries, especially Mrs Lordina Mahama.
According to them, Mrs Ernestina Naadu Mills and Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur should be excused because they are widows.
Mr Keskine Owusu Poku, Mr Victor Osei-Poku and Mr Michael Essel-Mills, who say they are people with an interest in governance, politics, constitutionalism and rule of law, are particularly interested in payments made specifically from 2009 to 2016, since, according to the petition, “the practice of paying” the sitting first lady and wife of the Vice-president, “started after the 4th Parliament of the 4th Republic”.
The petitioners, thus, feel the presidential spouses (Ernestina Naadu Mills, Lordina Mahama and Matilda Amissah-Arthur) that fall within 2009 and 2016, must also refund their allowances.
They, however, said since Ernestina Naadu Mills and Matilda Amissah-Arthur are widowed, the two are “safely covered by the humanitarian principle” instituted and continued by successive governments.
They, however, do not make that concession for Mrs Lordina Mahama, whose husband is still alive.
“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”.
“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.
“Secondly, the Office of the President is a public office and at no time has the First and Second Ladies 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.
They 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 individual basis) from 2009 to 2021; and
d. Make consequential orders and recommendations for the consideration of the State.