Sir John Failed To Declare His Assets While In Office
According to the Fourth Estate, the late Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie popularly known as Sir John, whose will has shocked some Ghanaians and fueled calls for government accountability, did not register his assets while in office.
Mr. Afriyie, sometimes known as Sir John, was a former general secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
On July 1, 2020, he died of Covid-19-related complications while still serving as the head of the Forestry Commission.
Since the contents of his will leaked into the public domain, many Ghanaians have been shocked by the massive wealth he bequeathed to his family and loved ones.
The large parcels of land he owned in the Achimota Forest and the Ramsar site, a protected area where he had warned people against acquiring land while he was in office, have piqued interest.
Others have questioned when he bought the houses.
The Audit Service report obtained by the Fourth Estate reveals that Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie did not declare his assets before joining office and did not declare them during his term as the Forestry Commission’s CEO.
Mr Afriyie should have reported assets related to the following under Ghana’s asset declaration laws: Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution and the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act.
(a) lands, houses and buildings;
(d) trust or family property in respect of which the officer has beneficial interest;
(e) vehicles, plant and machinery, fishing boats, trawlers, generating plants;
(f) business interests;
(g) securities and bank balances;
(h) bonds and treasury bills;
(i) jewellery of the value of ¢5 million [now ¢500] or above; objects of art of the value of ¢5 million or above;
(j) life and other insurance policies;
(k) such other properties as are specified on the declaration form.
Sir John had a long list of properties including 13 houses at various locations in Accra and Kumasi and his hometown, Sakora Wonoo, in the Ashanti Region. These houses are:
- House on plot number GA54480 located in Ogbojo, East Legon, and dated February 12, 2018
- House on plot number GA 55329 located at Oyarifa No. 2, dated May 11, 2018
- House on plot number GA 55475 located at Oyarifa No.1, dated September 27, 2017
- House on plot number GA 5881 located at Adjiringanor, Accra, (white House), dated August 7, 2019.
- A 6-bedroom house located at Patangbe, Ogbojo, near East Legon.
- A 4-bedroom house located in Mempeheusem, East Legon
- A 3-bedroom house on plot number TDA 4140 located in Mempehuesem, East Legon
- Another 3-bedroom house on plot number TDA 4140 located in Mempehuesem, East Legon
- A 4-bedroom house on plot number GA56838 located in East Legon and dated October 25, 2018
- A 5-bedroom house located in Sakora Wonoo
- A 4-storey building located in East Legon, with 10 apartments, each apartment consisting of 3-bedrooms; and five apartments, each consisting of two bedrooms
- A house at East Legon Hills
- A house in Kumasi, Ashanti region
Assets Sir John dated while in office
In March 2017, Sir John was named CEO of the Forestry Commission.
His will is silent on when he obtained most of the landed properties, money in bank accounts, and investments, or established the enterprises he owned.
He did, however, include dates and registration information for five of the houses in his will.
All five dates happened to be while he was the CEO of the Forestry Commission.
His residence in Oyarifa No. 1 was purchased on September 27, 2017 with the registration when he was only six months in office.
The will also mentions a second house in Ogbojo, Accra, which is dated February 12, 2018.
The will mentions a third residence in Sir John’s collection on May 11, 2018, and a fourth on October 25, 2018.
Sir John, the NPP’s general secretary from 2010 to 2014, had five houses registered in his name by his 30th month in service.
On August 7, 2019, the fifth one arrived.
The dates of acquisition for eight more residences in his bequest are unknown.
His net worth additionally includes 12 land holdings.
Sir John’s will also have 15 foreign and local bank and investment accounts (both individual and corporate), with one of the local institutions holding GH 2 million in deposits.
A fuel station in the Ashanti Region; ten fuel tankers (worth about $780,000, according to The Fourth Estate’s checks); one teak plantation in the Ashanti Region; a rubber plantation in the Eastern Region; three stalls at the new Kejetia market in Kumasi, also in the Ashanti Region; and Farms in the Ashanti Region are among his businesses.
But that’s not all.
He drove a Lexus LX570, Lexus V6, Mercedes Benz E68 Sport AMG, Honda Pilot V6, Honda Accord Sport, Toyota Landcruiser V8, Ford 150, and Lexus Saloon Car, 2019 model.
The Fourth Estate has discovered that the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, the country’s forestry sector regulator for almost four years, neglected to declare his assets and liabilities as required by law, thanks to a right to information request to the Audit Service.
This is clearly in violation of Article 286(1) of the 1992 Constitution, which requires public officials to declare all assets they own directly or indirectly before taking office, every four years, and at the conclusion of their tenure.
The President, Vice-President, Speaker, Deputy Speakers of Parliament, ministers and deputy ministers of state, ambassadors, the Chief Justice, and managers of public institutions in which the state has an interest are all required by law to submit written declarations to the Auditor-General of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by them, whether directly or indirectly.
Sir John, however, did not.