Exclusive details of Auditor-General’s suit against EOCO

Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, is challenging the legality of an ongoing investigation by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) into alleged procurement breaches at the Audit Service.

Mr Domelevo filed the suit at the Human Rights Division of the High Court, challenging the action by EOCO as not founded in law.

“…Respondent [EOCO] has no statutory mandate to investigate any offences relating to suspected corruption and corruption-related offences under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and generally corruption and corruption-related offences under the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) involving public officers, which offences by virtue of the Office of Special Prosecutor Act 2017 (Act 959) have now been placed squarely within the province of the Office of Special Prosecutor to investigate…” the suit read, among other things.

Auditor General had previously written a strongly worded letter to EOCO for investigating the alleged procurement breaches at the Audit Service. EOCO hit back, reminding the Auditor General that he had no power to interpret the law.

The Auditior General, through his legal counsel, Messrs Sory @Law, said EOCO acted ultra vires when it purportedly commenced investigations into the procurement of vehicles purchased by the Service sometime in the year 2018, pleading the court to enforce his fundamental human rights.

“Respondent’s [EOCO] decision to investigate and purported investigation of the Audit £iervice and myself for breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) allegedly committed in connection with the purchase of vehicles for the Service is wrongful and illegal for want of compliance with Respondent’s enabling statute,” the suit stated.

He also said EOCO’s purported investigation of the Audit Service for breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) allegedly committed in connection with the purchase of vehicles for the Service in 2018 was initiated capriciously, arbitrarily and in bad faith.

Depositions

The Auditor General holds the view that EOCO is a specialised agency tasked with the responsibility, specifically of monitoring and investigating economic and organised crime for which reason its statutory objects and functions as particularised by its enabling statute are stated as; the prevention and detection of organised crime, the investigation of money laundering, human trafficking, prohibited cyber activity, tax fraud and other serious offences as well as monitor activities connected with the said offences.

“9. That at all times material to the instant application, Respondent’s statutory functions initially included the investigation of offences that involve financial or economic loss to the Republic or any State entity or institution in which the State has financial interest, but that this object and/or function was specifically taken away by the Office of Special Prosecutor Act 2017 (Act 959) by virtue of which statute, offences relating to suspected corruption and corruption-related offences under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and generally corruption and corruption-related offences under the Criminal Offences Act, 1900 (Act 29) involving public officers must now be statutorily investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor and no other institution,” the suit read.

He states further that from the beginning of November 2019, EOCO has invited officials of the Audit Service and himself to its offices “consequent upon investigations Respondent has purportedly commenced into procurement breaches by the Service allegedly committed during the purchase of some vehicles by the Service sometime in the year 2018 and that my present deposition is evidenced by a letter dated the 7th day of November 2019…”

“That having attended Respondent’s office, listened to and interacted with Respondent, I reached the conclusion especially after Respondent purportedly cautioned me that Respondent exceeded its statutory mandate and acted plainly illegally when it [Respondent} invited officials of the Service and myself to assist in Respondent’s investigations into procurement breaches by the Service allegedly committed during the purchase of some vehicles by the Service sometime in the year 2018,” the Auditor General states.

Reliefs

The Auditor-General is seeking the following reliefs from the Human Rights Court:

i. A declaration that Respondent has no statutory mandate to investigate the Audit Service for any breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

ii. A declaration that Respondent’s decision to investigate and purported investigation of the Audit Service and myself for breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) allegedly committed in connection with the purchase of vehicles for the Service is wrongful, illegal, null and void.

iii. A declaration that the caution administered to me, in the course of Respondent’s purported investigation of the Audit Service for breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) allegedly committed in connection with the purchase of vehicles for the Service in the year 2018 is wrongful, illegal, null and void.

iv. An order of injunction directed at Respondent, ite officers, agents and all such persons, however, called from continuing with any investigations of the Audit Service and myself for breaches under the Public Procurement Act of 2003 (Act 663).

An order of injunction directed at Respondent, its officers, agents and all such persons however called from purporting to and/or exercising any power(s) of arrest against myself and /‹9r any official of the Audit Service in connection with Respondent’s investigations of the Service for alleged breaches under the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

Mr Kelly Brown

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