Martin Amidu Punches Holes Into Special Prosecutor Bill 2017

One of Ghana’s most respected legal luminaries, Martin Amidu, has exposed some lapses in the Special Prosecutor Bill 2017, which seeks to set up a separate office to bring corrupt persons to book.

Mr. Amidu, an anti-corruption campaigner and a former Attorney-General, in a 25-page paper critiquing aspects of the Bill which deals with the provision establishing the Office of the Special Prosecutor itself and the administrative provisions, questioned why there’s a clause that seeks to limit the Special Prosecutor to specific crimes.

“The attempt to distinguish types of corruption offences that may be investigated and prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor sends the clear message to Ghanaians that the President and his Government now accept that certain types of corruption offences are not serious for prosecution or at least to be prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor.

Fourth, the question may be asked, who will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting categories of corruption offences by the same public officers and politically exposed persons not meeting the standards in Clause 3 (4), or are they then immune from prosecution for such corruption offences?” The man, nicknamed Citizen Vigilante, wants President Akufo-Addo, to ensure that such questionable clauses are corrected if the office is to be useful to his fight against corruption.

“Will somebody call the President’s attention to read Clause 3 of the Bill before Parliament and confirm whether or not he endorsed the exception in sub-clause 4 for submission to Parliament? The retention of sub-clause 4 of Clause 3 of the Bill will make it unnecessary to enact any Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill into law.”

“I have no doubt that the insertion of Clause 3 (4) that negates the whole Bill before Parliament was done by a strong and powerful cabal which wishes to harvest its share of the proceeds of corruption that comes with public officers who find their way into public office through the deception of the appointing authority of rendering service with integrity to the Republic. The insertion of Clause 3 (4) in the Bill is therefore a wake-up call for the President to watch his so-called incorruptible appointees because as the saying goes, it is not all that glitters which is gold.”

“I am fortified in the belief that the attempt to pull a fast one on Ghanaians by the insertion of Clause 3 (4) of the Bill to negate the fight against corruption is the work of a strong and powerful cabal within the government because they succeeded in ensuring that the Memorandum to the Bill was silent on this important matter so that it will not catch the eye of the casual Ghanaian reading public.”

Mr. Amidu is generally unhappy with the consultative processes leading up to the laying of the Bill among other things.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, was laid in Parliament on 18th July 2017, but was later withdrawn and laid again for the second time on 2nd August 2017, before Parliament went on recess.

Mr. Amidu says although the setting up of the office is not in breach of the constitution due to the existence of AG’s office, a lot more is needed to fight corruption than merely creating other offices which may also eventually be challenged in their quest to deliver on their mandate.

He says the success of the office would be largely dependent on the integrity of the President to ensure the office works without any interference and gets the necessary resources to deliver on its mandate without fear or favour.

“My personal belief in the feasibility of establishing a permanent Office of the Special Prosecutor to deal specifically with corruption and related offences by law is premised on the exemplary moral compass and integrity of the Executive Authority personified by the elected President and his determination to give law enforcement authorities, including the Attorney General, the expected constitutional support to operate strictly in accordance with their oaths of office to be fair, transparent and impartial in the execution of their duties without fear or favour, affection or ill will. Absent such a President and public officers, no number of enactments can achieve the objective of fighting systemic corruption in Ghana” he said.